“Imagine battle mode of Mario Kart, except instead of Mario it’s babies duking it out in a Mad Max style arena.”
That is how Ikrima Elhassan, Kite and Lightning’s Co-Founder and “Chief Skittle Tester,” introduced his company’s first game, Bebylon Battle Royale, to me. As Calvin Candie said, “you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.”
Bebylon Battle Royale is a multiplayer vehicular party brawler with an adult sense of humor. The game is set in a future where mankind has found a pill that brings immortality, but it came with a catch – all of the newborns stopped physically growing after the age of two. That presented obvious issues for the new subset of society, as nobody could take them seriously.
Eventually “the bebies,” as they are called, formed their own society Bebylon, where the bebies rule supreme. But infighting and overcompensation created a need for the immortal bebies to settle their scores somehow, and so the Battle Royale games were born to settle once and for all who is the baddest beby in Beblyon.
Bebylon Battle Royale will utilize an interesting duality of perspective made possible by VR. From one perspective you will hover above the arena, controlling your car from a god like view, from the other you will follow behind your car, similar to the camera in Rocket League. What makes this interesting however, is that the player themselves have agency in the game, and are a part of it. When you are in the god’s eye perspective you can see and interact with your opponents, similar to how you can in Oculus’ Toybox demo.
“[The] beauty of VR,” says Elhassan, “is you can inflict pain and humiliation on the person, not their character”
Humor and humiliation will ultimately play a huge role in the gameplay, as players will hurl customizable taunts and “humiliation balls” at each other and at the bebies on the play field.
Elhassan painted an example for us, “One of them is called Devil’s Lap. [With it] you can take the ball and throw it at the avatar controlling your opponent’s beby. It’s this floating ball… where if you stick your head inside of it, it’s another world. So [with] the Devil’s Lap ball you manage to hit the other avatar’s head, ends up locking on their head and they’re transported to Hell where the Devil tortures them.” They are currently “playing with ideas” as to how these player to player interactions will fit fully into the gameplay, but for now Elhassan compares them to fatalities in games like Mortal Kombat.
The customizable taunts will play a role in creating an immersive environment as well. Elhassan says that you will be able to see how each avatar reacts to the taunt, adding to the level of ridiculousness in the game.
“Just seeing a baby teabag another baby is hilarious.”
Kite and Lightning made a strong commitment to go with comedy for this game and it isn’t just because they wanted to make a goofy title, it actually plays up some of the medium’s current pitfalls in a good way. “Things in VR tend to be really funny,” says Elhassan, “comedy doesn’t require realism, it gives us a lot more latitude in things we would like to do [in VR]. You need to work within your constraints to makes something amazing.”
Storytelling is another thing that Kite and Lightning has excelled at in the past with experiences like Sanso Peso, and they intend bring that same excellence to Bebylon. Similar to games like League of Legends each of the bebies will have their own unique character and backstory. The intent is to make it interesting not just to play, but to watch as well.
“Spectator dynamics enable the “Let’s Play” crowd to join in on the arena via insulting commentary, game betting, garbage hurling and other actions of ill repute,” reads the game’s description. That level of interaction for the spectating crowd bodes well for Bebylon’s potential as an E-Sport in the future.
Right now the game is targeting a release on all the major HMD platforms including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR sometime in May or June of 2016.