Reload Studios was founded last year it was created with a purpose, the founding members saw the nascent VR industry, and knew it was the future and wanted to build for it. Reload founder James Chung also knew one other thing, “traditional big game makers can’t change their directions quickly to jump into unknown markets.” So James and four others, three former Call of Duty vets and a highly experienced Disney artist set out “to be on the forefront of the new platform launch.”
Since the studio was formed, the team, currently consisting of 18 people, has been focused on creating an online multiplayer FPS for VR. So far, according to Chung, the results have been very promising, but the journey hasn’t been easy saying when building a game for VR, “you pretty much have to throw away how you’ve been doing things and really build the game from the ground up.”
This is true, as we have seen with a number of ported titles to VR, its not as simple as enabling vorpX support and popping on a Rift, games need to be developed specifically for VR to work well. That is exactly what Reload is looking to accomplish with “every aspect of [their] game [being] built to accommodate the performance issues with the VR platform.”
While a number of the technical approaches may have to be rethought for VR, Chung was clear that the philosophy they embodied on the Call of Duty team remained consistent at Reload. “[The] Call of Duty team’s mantra was performance and gameplay,” says Chung, “we inherited that philosophy and that’s probably one of the biggest contributions that has crossed over from our previous experience to where we are.” Those two qualities are extremely important when developing for VR, and have worked to shape the project.
For example, one of the restrictions Chung acknowledges about the current generation of VR is that for many older people the experience needs to take place in short bursts, in order to combat nausea and eye strain. Because of this, some elements of the gameplay have been designed to help accommodate this. Says Chung, “we are building our game so the size of the map and gameplay duration as well as gameplay mode will maximize fun in short [bursts].” This problem is, however, not consistent with younger players, for whom Reload “has had to be the ones to tell them to stop playing.”
Another gameplay mechanic that the team has had to work on is finding a way to slow down the pace enough that it doesn’t create nausea for the player, but at the same time feels like a modern fast paced online FPS. “[This] is one of the things we designed from the ground up,” says Chung, “our visual design direction will have a lot to do with [reducing nausea in fast paced situations].” Chung further added that these design choices haven’t affected the user experience, “no one who has tested our game complained about [it being too slow].”
Control schemes and input devices are among the other issues that remain to be solved. According to Chung, Reload is looking to the market to see what input device emerges as the most adopted, before settling on an “ideal solution.” Chung also acknowledged that the team is currently also developing two different control schemes, which are “still at a very early stage but are very promising.”
As of right now, the Reload team is currently preparing to reveal a little bit more of what they have been working on and are currently remaining tightlipped as to the actual content of their game. But Chung did reveal that the game will fall into the FPS online multiplayer genre that Call of Duty has so effectively popularized.
The team recently received quite a boost from Rothenberg Ventures with their inclusion in the inaugural River program. They will look to take the resources garnered from their admission in the program to help expedite and build out their grand vision, which they want to launch “around the similar time frame as the major VR platforms’ launch.”
UploadVR will be following this story closely so be sure to stay tuned for more updates.