The VDA award winning action shooter Regenesis Arcade – currently on sale 50% off during the Viveport holiday sale – is an electric experience. Blending immersive, fast paced gun combat with skill customization options, Regenesis gives players plenty of ways to change up their tactics as they wage war against an army of malevolent machines bent on our destruction. We talked to the developers at Hyperbook Studio to find out how the digital sausage was made for this essential Viveport experience.
Interview by Nathan Ortega, Viveport
For those unfamiliar, tell us a bit about yourself and Hyperbook Studio
Hi, it’s Adrian Szymański – Project Manager and Maciek Karbownik – Game Designer from Hyperbook Studio. Our development story had begun in 2016, when Hyperbook Studio has been created to bring innovative software to gamers and industry professionals around the world using VR technology. Our team members are passionate Unreal Engine developers with high ambitions to create stunning and interesting VR experiences.
Where did the idea behind Regenesis Arcade come from?
At the beginning, Regenesis was supposed to be a simple game that we used to promote VR technology at many Hyperbook events. Watching how people react, new ideas started flooding our heads like what we should to add or improve to deliver much more fun. We even had an extensive script with a long adventure story which would probably take some years and funds to make our dreams come true. Of course we chose the best elements and created the pure explosive VR shooter experience which you can play now.
What would you say were your biggest inspirations when developing the game (world/art style/gameplay etc)?
Each of us tried to add our personal favorites to the mix, but we certainly were all ultimately inspired by the most critically acclaimed first person games of the era – namely the Portal series, Half-Life 2 (hence the gravity gun in our game) and Doom 2016. When it came to art, we focused on working effectively and not over scoping with something that might break the convention of futuristic wave-based combat. The concept of evil AI-controlled drone came as an easy way to create a versatile archetype of an antagonist, which can have many visual and functional variations.
Was Regenesis Arcade always intended to be a fast-paced and exciting arcade style experience, or did that direction evolve over the course of development?
We went through the typical road of limiting the scope throughout the way, in our case from a story-driven puzzle shooter to the frantic trigger-happy madness we have right now. It wasn’t redundant to start with this different, narrative approach, since the background we created this way allowed us to capture a big picture of what can be possible in the future and put small details hidden beyond the obvious layer of a typical shooter experience. Why are levels arranged this way? What is the beam of red light on a Wasteland map? Why do we come back to the first location in the last episode? Where are all the other people? We know answers to those questions, and you may find out in the future.
Were there any weapons/enemies/etc that you wanted to incorporate into Regenesis Arcade but for whatever reason just couldn’t find a place for?
Our weapon we really wanted to work into Regenesis was a flame thrower. However, adding fire elements to the game creates a challenge in consistency – you should be able to set grass and trees on fire, which we’d prefer to avoid, since it will be a tough one to balance and optimize. The massive weapons pack came with one of the most recent updates, so we already had our maps and general environmental design in place. Also, we’d have to take some time to make sure it looks good and also doesn’t kill your PC. Another argument against it was the fact that we already have three general weapon categories and one for the gravity gun, each with a special set of perks. So if we add flamethrower, which doesn’t really fit into the current weapon types, we’d have to create a new one, with a bunch of new perks, which means lots of work for the whole team. It’s certainly possible, but wasn’t the best thing to do when you have lots of other critical development tasks at hand.
What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered when developing Regenesis Arcade?
Definitively the typical VR oriented development challenges. Not necessarily the technical obstacles and performance issues, but designing to optimize being on VR can be tough. Most of the similar games on the market are really safe – you don’t move around, don’t progress your character, there’s a very limited amount of enemies on the screen. But we went crazy with Regenesis: you can teleport or run around, there’s a shop where you can buy ammo, switch weapons and unlock perk upgrades, there’s 10-20 enemies on the screen all the time, behind you, above and under your feet. This game gets really tough because we made it looking for a level of challenge we would want to see in the genre. It’s absolutely merciless and I consider it one of the most hardcore VR titles on the market, which we are very proud of.
Were there any surprises revealed through observing player behavior and getting fan feedback upon release? Any elements that people particularly responded to that you didn’t predict?
We underestimated some of the elements in terms of their importance to players. For example, there are many VR games where you don’t move at all or just teleport. The movement wasn’t a focus in the early stage, so we thought this should be enough and players will focus on the shooting, treating this just as a way to dodge bullets, which we considered a must-have in this type of game. But most of people said it felt like a ‘cheat-y’ way to play a shooter – just to teleport around, they wanted the free movement. Our thought was there’s no way they could get too far with ‘cheat-y’ teleporting, ironically, because the game is even harder later on and you want to use every way you can to make it more managable for yourself, and jumping around is surely one of those ways. So then we added the free movement and tweaked it a bit, just for those few hardcore players who wanted to have the freedom that was already present in most popular VR games on the market at the moment: Fallout 4 VR and Doom VFR. Suddenly it opened a completely different way to play a game – right now we have two completely different experiences because of that. You might say that playing in one of those modes is ‘cheat-y’, but the thing is – which one? Each has it’s pros and cons and it’s up to you to pick your preference. Also, some people might have motion sickness issues, so for the teleportation will be the best option to play. We wanted our game to be hard, but also inclusive and accessible. So this movement mode selection was the most unexpected but also most exciting change we’ve made so far.
How many people were on the team during the development, and how long did it take to make?
Our core team was 6 persons but in peak time there was involved around 15 people. Development time took about 12 months of hard work.
What do you ultimately want players to take away from their time with Regenesis Arcade?
We want them to escape from reality for some time and play one of the most engaging shooter experiences there is. Most of our team are avid FPS gamers, so we tweaked and balanced the game thinking about having a really good time killing drones and figuring out new strategies to do it more effectively. Just don’t get too serious about it, it’s all about having fun.
What’s next on the horizon for Hyperbook Studio?
We’re working on our next project called Hyper Arena VR is under development since 2017 and it’s in working alpha phase now. In HAVR we aim at creating the world’s first fully immersive active multiplayer PvP game with full body reproduction inside Virtual Reality playground. H.A.VR incorporates variety of different types of discs and power-ups available at player’s disposal. It could be also great workout for the body. You can watch promo trailers from HAVR on our website and YouTube channel.
Awesome to hear! We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it as you and the team continue development. Thank you for chatting with us!