Gunner is a go! The dev team speaks
The Gunner demo was released earlier this year and many of you have had the chance to try it out. To commemorate the release of the full game, we took an afternoon to chat with the development team about the making of Gunner.
Prepare yourself, these guys don’t mess around…
How would you describe Gunner?
Pete: An easy to play, tough to master, instantly fun VR game.
Andreas: Space invaders in VR. Quick to pick up, awesome to get into, too.
Martin: Yeah, it’s a fun arcade mobile shoot-‘em-up.
Where did the idea for Gunner come from?
Andreas: That’s a good question! I think the key thing really was to make something that worked great in VR, as well as showing the amazing visuals that VR can offer. So we wanted to create something that just let the player experience looking around in a beautiful VR environment, and then work with that as a core gameplay mechanic. That’s kind of how Gunner was born.
Martin: I think the design team did a really good job of coming up with the design, as VR really changes how you make games.
Andreas: Gunner is essentially a very simple game, but – because it’s in VR – there is a lot of complexity to it.
Where did the art style come from?
Martin: There are technical limitations to adhere to and work with. One of the bigger problems was the challenge of real-time lighting of objects on the platform. So we had to come up with an art style that fits the action and ideas behind the game, but also overcomes the technical challenges of the platform – with VR you have to render everything twice, essentially doubling the amount of processing the device needs to do.
So we started to look at an art style that worked with not being lit in real time, so each object had all of their lighting baked in. A lot of people may be familiar with an art style that’s known as a painterly or cel-shaded effect. There are a number of games that have used this kind of technique in the past, very famously by Borderlands, as well as games such as World of Warcraft. It just fit Gunner like a glove so we went in that direction.
What was the most challenging part of developing Gunner?
Pete: Initially not having the consumer headset to work with was a fairly big challenge! The headset was under development during the game’s creation, so what we were working on changed throughout. Luckily Oculus were really great at getting us updates and new hardware as we were going along. So as we were making the game, the tech went on by leaps and bounds.
Martin: During the early stages when we didn’t have hardware to test the games on, we had to rely on the guys at Unity, Oculus and Samsung for support. They were really helpful – we could send them information and they’d help us see what was going on. The toolset that we received from Unity was helpful too.
Gunner has been described as an “easy-to-swallow first taste of VR.” Why do you think this is so?
Pete: Great- That’s what we wanted it to be!
Martin: Yeah, great! The main thing we wanted was for everyone to pick it up easily and enjoy playing it.
Andreas: It all comes back down to what Pete and Martin said about the development process. We were given a brand new device, so we set out to create something we felt would make people enjoy VR as much as we have enjoyed it.
One of the key problems with VR is that you can tell someone how awesome it is, but they are not going to fully believe you until they put a headset on. So once someone puts on Gunner and sees the big planet in the distance and ships exploding and shooting, they will think “okay, this is VR, I get it.” So for Gunner, we wanted to make something where if it was their first experience, the player would feel comfortable and would not have to learn much to get into the action.
Now we know what the device is capable of and what it can do, we will build on that for the next game. Likewise, the experience we give consumers will build their confidence levels and they will be more like, “okay, I understand what VR is going to be about and I can’t wait to see what is next!”
Anything else you would like to add about Gunner?
Pete: Buy it. Just buy it already!
Andreas: It’s been great fun making our first proper VR game and I can’t wait for people to let us know their thoughts, once they buy it and play the full game.
Martin: I would quite enjoy just knowing that there is a possibility that someone will find the Easter egg that I snuck in. The one that no one else knows about…
Martin: Enjoy that one, forum posters!