Want to fly? Of course you do. Want to shoot some people while you do it? Well, why not, you’re up there, and you have the guns. We should warn you though; there are a lot of people who will shoot back at you. This is Skyfront VR from Levity Play. We spoke to Ivar Jaanus at the studio about their vision for ‘nausea free zero-G shooting’.
Give us your pitch for Skyfront VR. What sort of game do you envision it to be, when it’s out of Early Access?
If I were to pitch Skyfront to my nan, I’d say it’s like zero-gravity dodgeball, but instead of balls you’ve got weapons!
But to anybody but my nan I’d say – Skyfront is a zero-gravity FPS for VR with fast-paced gameplay, a great weapons arsenal and awesome abilities to use to your advantage. We’ve got gorgeous maps, tons of challenges and events, and a great community to boot!
What games and/or sci-fi inspired Skyfront? Or did VR inspire you to make the game?
The primary inspiration for Skyfront comes from our favourite sci-fi books, like Ender’s Game and Dune. We’re also huge fans of the fast-paced FPS genre. Overwatch and Bioshock are definitely among the games that continue to amaze and inspire us. And, of course, VR with its freedom of movement that lets us live out our childhood dreams of floating in zero gravity.
One of your biggest claims is that the game has eliminated VR induced motion sickness. Without giving away too much of your secret sauce, what did you do during development to make this possible?
It’s magic! But in all seriousness, people have very different reactions to VR and what we have done is merely take into account the most common causes of motion sickness in VR and done our best to avoid these.
We have made moving within our game as intuitive and natural for the player as possible. We call it the point-and-move approach to locomotion. Basically you move where you point your hand. Since Skyfront is an FPS, the player is intuitively inclined to look in the direction they’re pointing when they aim. We merely made use of that natural inclination.
Another aspect that helps us minimize motion sickness is never forcing the player to move very close to any level elements as part of the core game mechanic. Of course players can and will collide with the elements from time to time, but it’s never required to play the game – this allows for newcomers or people more prone to motion sickness feel comfortable in Skyfront.
Leading on from that, what do you feel was the toughest challenge you had in development?
Probably creating a roadmap of all the factors that cause motion sickness, and then designing our levels and gameplay with these in mind. Everything from our weapon design to our HUD choices are motivated by these considerations.
Also, as a studio that transitioned into VR from the casual games market, the whole journey has been full of surprises and discoveries.
You’ve started with two in-game maps. Are you planning to add more or do you see a lower number of maps as being better for a competitive game?
Before releasing the full version of Skyfront, we plan to add two additional maps and Steam Workshop support for our community. We’re really excited to see how our players make use of the zero-G environment.
Our next upcoming map will be centred around a medieval castle that draws inspiration from Gothic architecture. We’ll be keeping the fourth map secret for a little while longer.
What are your plans to keep the community interested in and playing Skyfront?
We are going to continue with the Skyfront Skirmish challenge series that we organise every couple of weeks. We’re also looking into introducing a similar challenge series for our arcade players.
Steam Workshop integration will be another cool way for the community to put their own creativity into the game.
We will also be adding customisation options and different game modes.
And a couple other cool ideas that we won’t disclose quite yet. 😉
What multiplayer modes are available? Are you planning on adding any more?
Skyfront currently has Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch game modes. We will be adding Domination mode before full launch and are also considering adding Elimination mode Capture The Flag and a few other.
You’ve got jetpacks, you’ve got grappling hooks… any plans to add other modes of movement, or would they unbalance the game?
There are no plans to add any other modes of movement. The point-and-move approach to locomotion is at the heart of Skyfront and we’re pretty damn happy with how it’s turned out!
Speaking of balance… how do you manage to balance a game like this? Is it easier or harder given the environment?
Balancing the game does take quite a bit of tweaking. We have introduced new weapons only to have the community tell us to nerf it. But that’s what it’s all about – community feedback is priceless to balancing our weapons and abilities.
The environment hasn’t affected our choices too much. Only to the degree that some weapons bounce off level elements and some abilities penetrate walls.
What’s next for your studio – more Skyfront development or do you have other projects on the horizon?
At the moment, we’re putting all of our energy into launching the full version of Skyfront. But yes, there are other really cool VR games on the horizon that we want to keep under wraps for now but we hope to get to work on those later this year.
Thanks for talking to us, Ivar!