Austin-based Gunfire Games is one of the more experienced game studios in the world working on VR. With around 60 people employed there today, the company behind Darksiders III also produced five VR titles stretching across Rift and Gear VR, including third-person role-playing game Chronos, shooter Dead and Buried and mobile title Herobound: Spirit Champion.
Gunfire’s latest game, From Other Suns, takes Rift owners soaring across the galaxy in a game that mashes together a shooter with one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played — FTL. If you’re unfamiliar with FTL, the PC game is also available on iPad and sees players managing a spaceship as it makes its way warping across the galaxy gathering resources by defeating enemies to purchase more weapons and upgrades for the ship. The game gradually scales in difficulty as you approach your destination so you need to constantly be getting stronger while both its enemies and environments are generated anew with each game so it is constantly a fresh challenge infused with the need for a bit of good luck.
From Other Suns is very similar, with you embodying one of the ship’s crew members and heading on away missions to ships and stations in hopes of harvesting enough resources to survive the trip to Earth. Games Editor David Jagneaux gave it a “Good” rating, concluding “the real test for replayibility in a game like From Other Suns though is going to be how well Gunfire can support it post launch and how much the community embraces it.” As a fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars, I hope the game continues to evolve after launch because the genre Gunfire is honing in on is an absolute dream for many of the starry-eyed gamers buying into VR.
Designing virtual reality software is incredibly challenging, as I’ve covered at length diving in deep with developers like Owlchemy Labs and outlining, for example, how it took hundreds of hours just to make a realistic cup of coffee in Job Simulator. And earlier this month we posted a guest article authored by engineers at Leap Motion exploring the creation of more intuitive user interfaces. With From Other Suns, we see Gunfire working to make a fun multiplayer game while simultaneously pushing user interface design as far as they can in VR. The game features wrist-mounted maps and teleportation buttons, floating holographic storage systems and dashboards meant to intuitively allow players to control the ship’s functions — all ideas that if they could be developed further might become integral parts of much more dynamic virtual worlds.
Gunfire’s work from Herobound and Chronos to now shows a quick evolution into more immersive and intuitive VR design, and I hope the company gets the chance to keep pushing these design ideas further. I recently spent an hour or so in VR with Design Director John Pearl and Level Designer Cindy To both interviewing them and playing the game. Check out my 11-minute edited version of our talk that runs through some of their gameplay and design decisions.