Adding VR to the city-wrecking and beast-slaying Man vs Monster taught designer Diederik Groesbeek a few lessons about his design.
“After the unboxing of the first Oculus Rift, excitement levels at our office went through the roof. This was the thing we’d been waiting for since… well, forever. A couple of days later, we had implemented initial VR support for our web game Man Or Monster, inside Unity. The level of immersion really grabbed us by the throat. Even looking around in the main menu screen was awesome! We were literally inside a 3D version of our game.
Of course we wanted to show it to the world, and the earliest opportunity was the Indigo Showcase game expo in the Netherlands. To get this thing ready and playable for the public though, was going to take more than just slapping ‘SUPER’ in front of the title. Which we totally did as well by the way.
Can you handle it?
Our main concern was this: We’re not making an ‘experience’ game. It’s shooting and flying with a jetpack while a gigantic monster is wreaking havoc. Players might not be able to handle it. However, the game leaves some room to explore and try out stuff at your own pace. There’s no strict competitive element either. Through testing we found out that the franticness of the game is within acceptable levels for most players.
We also asked testers what they thought about the UI. Most of them mentioned that they would prefer as little UI as possible, which will pose a challenge in the future since our game’s functionality is pretty complex. Most important is that they wanted to get a clear visual cue on where they are shooting and moving compared to where they are looking. We had ‘disconnected’ the two to be more intuitive and realistic for players, and to avoid people having to use their neck for the core game mechanic.
Getting some distance
Initially, we had some worries about the responsive camera movement and controls we were using. It turned out that adding smoothing to this actually made the experience feel worse. Furthermore, getting some distance between the player and the action also provided a more relaxing experience. When shown the difference, most players preferred the third person mode to the first person one.
With people actually lining up to play this game, we needed to make it an instant-fun experience. We decided to just throw players into the game without too much instruction, which surprisingly made people less anxious than when we eased them in. Lastly we added some cheats and adjustments to help players win a bit quicker, giving more people a chance to try the game.
It was incredibly rewarding to see all the positive reactions at the game expo. We even won a Dutch Game Award for the original Man Or Monster that year. Now, we’re hoping to get Super Man Or Monster on Steam, ready in time for all to enjoy in glorious stereoscopic 3D!”