Blasting back to old-school arcades, with Operation Warcade

For a period in the 1980s mounted guns on arcade cabinets were hugely popular, with the feel of those guns and the rapid-fire feedback giving players a real sense of immersion through the machine’s CRT monitor. Today, Ivanovich Games is bringing back the arcade experience inside your HTC Vive – literally. We spoke with Ivan Cascales, CEO of Ivanovich Games, on the creation of Operation Warcade. 

Can you tell us what Operation Warcade was mainly inspired by?

Taito's Operation Wolf arcade cabinet

Taito’s Operation Wolf arcade cabinet

In Operation Warcade we wanted to pay tribute to the golden era of arcades that I was lucky enough to experience in the 80s and 90s. (I’m now 41 years old.) If I must choose a single game, it would certainly be Taito’s Operation Wolf as the title that most marked the inspiration.

What made you decide to create a virtual arcade inside the game, so that you stand in front of an arcade cabinet as you would have ‘back in the day’? Most developers would probably have put players ‘in the action’ immediately.

I was convinced I didn’t want to do “another wave shooter.” I also wanted to get away from the classic use of teleport and unfortunately free movement tends to make many people dizzy.

In Operation Warcade we tried to mix up a lot of gameplay mechanics that don’t get people dizzy, and that all of them can be played sitting as well as in room scale.

The best way we found to offer this repertoire of different mechanics materialized in an abbreviated time was to emulate the arcade from outside with the so called “immersion points”.

As well as that way of playing it, you can also go ‘inside the machine’ in Operation Warcade. What’s different between the two modes?

Operation Warcade offers 2 totally different game modes:

  1. CLASSIC MODE: For those particularly nostalgic. We try to recreate the original gaming experience of the classic arcade machines: You play on a flat screen, with limited lives and limited ammunition and 6 screens to overcome. Of course, there are no coins.
  2. IMMERSIVE EDITION: It’s hard to explain, the screen is not flat here. It’s huge and in real 3D. The feeling is totally different. Here you have endless ammunition and infinite lives, but you cannot relax because you must overcome a total of 108 missions divided into 36 levels that also allow you to improve your arsenal.

The original arcade games often limited you to one gun, but within VR you’re not so limited, obviously. So what will you be using in Operation Warcade?

The aim of Operation Warcade is to surprise the player with different game mechanics in very short periods of time. To do this we make many changes of contexts and take advantage of most of them to make changes in weapons that bring freshness to the game.

We have many weapons: the usual ones: shotguns, missile launchers, snipers, explosive arrows like Rambo, etc. But we also have very funny experimental weapons like the antigravity grenades or grenades that cause tornadoes of fire.

One of the unique weapons in Operation Warcade is the gravity gun… tell us what kind of crazy stuff you can pull off with that!

Yes! The gravity gun is a piece of work! It is clearly inspired by one of my favorite games: Half Life and allows you to attract anything from the stage and throw it freely. The feeling of freedom and madness it offers was fun and surprising.

Tell us about your physics. A soldier gets crushed by flying debris in your trailer! What have you implemented here?

Operation Warcade offer a strange mix between seemingly realistic graphics and absurdly exaggerated physics with the aim that everything is very spectacular and fun. The result is that when you play, fun things like the one you mention happen.

You’ve also got vehicles which is a big change from the arcades… what can you pilot?

Yes! The game not only offers several types of “immersion points”. Some are static, others travel inside a vehicle by sea, air or land that you don’t drive. But you’re also driving in many immersion points.

You can drive several military land vehicles with one hand while shooting with the other.

You can also fly both airplanes and helicopters and do it by taking the controls with your hands. The helicopter flying spots are my favorite. You can fire missiles and take advantage of the height. It’s cool : -)

What’s next for Operation Warcade?

The most immediate future is to release the PSVR version and a very special surprise: The augmented reality version of the game using ARKit for iPhone. It’s a blast!

In the medium term we plan to launch something that many people are asking us to do: Cooperative multiplayer!

Thanks for talking to us, Ivan!

Operation Warcade is available on Viveport.