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Apex Construct builds a whole new VR world
Apex Construct takes VR players to a world that’s been torn apart and put back together, and where everything is not quite as it seems. With the debut of Apex Construct on Viveport, we tracked down Erik Odeldahl of Fast Travel Games to find out more.
Hello! Tell us who you are, and your job on Apex Construct.
Hi! My name is Erik Odeldahl. I’m the Creative Director and one of the co-founders of Fast Travel Games, a VR game developer in Stockholm, Sweden. As a Creative Director, my responsibility is to set the direction for gameplay, storytelling and mood in our games, of which Apex Construct is the first. Since we’re a relatively small studio, everybody has to do quite a lot. This means I’ve also been designing levels, writing the script and directing the actors, and even pitched in with some code. To learn more about the game and the studio, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Give us your pitch on Apex Construct. What kind of VR gamer do you think will enjoy it?
Apex Construct is an action-adventure game built from the ground up for VR, where you get to wield an upgradable high tech bow and fire several types of arrows. It features a full narrative with twelve missions and combat that takes full advantage of the physical potential of a VR setup. We think everybody interested in exploring and solving puzzles in a strange future world, while combating its robot inhabitants will really like it. It’s designed to be around 50% exploration and puzzle solving and 50% combat.
Tell us a bit more, without spoilers of course, about the two AI constructs ‘Fathr’ and ‘Mothr’?
When the game starts, the player is taken from a dimensional void back to a future earth where almost all organic life seems to have vanished in the blink of an eye. The world has been torn apart by a strange event and then reassembled, but the pieces ended up all over the places. Buildings, furniture and strange machinery intersect the environment, creating a weird and compelling world to explore. The two AIs, Mothr and Fathr, were the two first “living” beings who returned to this strange new Earth. It is soon made clear to the player that these two beings existed before the apocalypse and that the conflict between them is old. Maybe they had something to do with why the world is the way it is?
What games (or indeed, other media) inspired you when creating Apex Construct?
I personally re-read a lot of older science fiction novels, looking for inspiration into how to create mysterious worlds. The Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic is one, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke is another. Both are heavily recommended reads! From a games point of view, I think titles such as the Bioshock and Half-Life series have inspired us the most for Apex Construct.
Apex Construct was built exclusively for VR. Was there anything specifically you felt that was only possible to achieve in VR?
The bow and arrow mechanic we built is impossible to do outside VR! I also think the level of immersion you achieve in VR isn’t attainable on a standard 2d screen. When starting the development of the game, we worked from two angles: 1) The core bow and arrow mechanic and 2) the world we wanted the player to explore. Basically: We wanted the player to fully immerse themselves in a world we created and we wanted them to wield the most awesome bow and arrow ever in a VR title.
Okay then, tell us about the bow/shield combination!
The bow is a highly technological tool developed in the time before the apocalypse. It has the ability to fire arrows of different types and also to generate an energy shield that helps the player block incoming enemy projectiles. When the player returns to the world, their left hand has been mysteriously replaced with a mechanical one. This hand gives the player the ability to use a certain kind of energy, which we call Radiance, to upgrade their bow, shield and arrows. It is up to the player to choose how they want to spend these Radiance Points.
You’ve included more than one movement method; did you have to make any adjustments to gameplay to make both modes work?
The game was initially built to support teleportation movement. This was a choice we made because we wanted everybody to be able to play the game without risk of nausea. Free locomotion was something we planned to add post-release, but after feedback from VR players around the world we decided to implement it already at launch, selectable from the Settings menu. Supporting more than one mode of locomotion of course takes more effort, but we didn’t have to make any big changes to the gameplay.
We’ve seen quite a lot of bow/shield combo games in VR. What do you feel makes Apex Construct unique?
I think that when you play the game, you’ll find that the bow in Apex Construct is truly special. We’ve put a lot of work into and are really proud of how it came out, from the way it requires precision aiming using the motion controllers, to the way it gives feedback to the player using positional audio and finely tweaked rumble. It is worth noting too, that having a great bow doesn’t mean much if the surrounding gameplay and AI doesn’t support that mode of combat, so a lot of work has gone into balancing these features together.
Finally, do you have future plans for Apex Construct? Will you be expanding it going forward?
We love the world of Apex Construct and will definitely keep supporting it! First of all, we will listen closely to what players think and and want, and fix bugs that might pop up. Secondly, there might be new content coming out … I can’t say anything yet, but make sure to follow Fast Travel Games onFacebook or Twitter to get news when it’s available!
Thanks for talking with us!
Apex Construct is available on Viveport.