If you asked me what my ideal VR game would be, my answer might sound a lot like the premise for Mythica VR, an upcoming VR game that just launched its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. It isn’t based in Wizards of the Coast’s iconic Dungeons & Dragons universe and it doesn’t have a massive budget with hundreds of people working on it, but it does have an incredibly strong concept fueled by a strong pedigree of experience.
As is the case with any indie team launching a Kickstarter, backer beware and all that, but this is one of the stronger prospects we’ve seen for a dedicated, built-for-VR, crowdfunded game in some time. That confidence is supported by the fact that Rogan Griffin, Lead Engineer on Mythica VR for Arrowstorm Entertainment, definitely has a similar idea of what his dream VR game would be. After working at Pixar for 6 years on films such as Up, Toy Story 3, and Brave, he’s returning to a realm of fantasy.
“I backed the Oculus Kickstarter on Day 1,” Griffin told me in a phone interview. “The first thing I thought was, wow, I need positional tracking, I want to walk around in a world, and I want to fight monsters. If you’re going to be in an ultimate reality, for me that would be inside a D&D game.”
If you’ve played Vanishing Realms, a superb launch title for the HTC Vive, then you’ve gotten a small taste of what’s possible. Attacking monsters with a sword or bow and arrow, in roomscale, with motion controllers, is extremely satisfying. But what that game lacks most of all is multiplayer. Playing with a party and dedicated Dungeon Master is a big part of what makes D&D such an entertaining experience.
“It’s not full role-playing for me unless I’m with my party,” Griffin said. “There is nothing like when you’re being overwhelmed by a horde of undead skeletons and you hear the battle cry of your friend as he hacks his way in and saves you.”
And in order to make sure as many people can play this game as possible, Mythica VR is actually coming to a surprising number of platforms. Primarily, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with Touch will both be supported. But surprisingly, Arrowstorm is also developing the game for Cardboard and Google Daydream headsets. By networking two extra smartphones that you hold in your hands, they’re able to simulate what you need for motion controllers.
“With this Kickstarter, we’ve tried to make it compatible with Cardboard and Daydream, so hopefully that increases the audience quite a bit,” Griffin explained.” Even if someone isn’t a VR fan already, they could see this and think it’s cool and not be required to drop thousands of dollars on all this new technology. Most people have retired, old smartphones at home that can still work on WiFi. That’s when we thought, well, we could just network the phones together and that’s an easy way to do it. The orientation is actually accurate enough that way. You don’t have positional tracking, but it’s a lot better than nothing.”
When asked about the Samsung Gear VR or PlayStation VR, Griffin said that he had just not done enough research into either to give an answer at this time.
If you follow the fantasy film or indie film scene at all, then you might recognize the Mythica name. That’s because Arrowstorm Entertainment is no stranger to crowdfunding or fantasy worlds at all. In fact, they’ve funded over 10 different fantasy film projects on Kickstarter, most popular of which is their Mythica series.
“For me, I didn’t approach this from ‘I want to make a Mythica game,’ this was ‘I want to convert D&D into VR,'” Griffin said. “Arrowstorm has a pretty successful Mythica indie film series and have a large following on Kickstarter and social media already, plus their last film raised over $100,000. I came to the Mythica team for that reason. We wanted to target the Mythica fans and give them a game version of the world that also captured what makes D&D so special.”
As you can tell from the GIFs and other footage, combat is 100% real-time. You’ll swing your sword, draw your bow, and cast your spells as if you were really there. Griffin explained that all of the traditional fantasy classes will be present, such as rogues, spellcasters, rangers, warriors, and others. What you won’t find in Mythica VR, however, is a restrictive rule and stat system for characters.
“We intend for it to be very loose,” Griffin admitted. “We want to get away from the things I don’t think we need anymore. If you are inside the game, in VR, you don’t need rules, or dice rolls, or stats. You’re actually there. You can actually just learn and get better at the game physically. We don’t need a progression system. We use the rules of real life instead.”
In addition to this foundation of detailed, fantasy-based combat, they’ve also built a robust campaign system as well. The base game will release with a core campaign included — complete with quests and missions to complete and experience the story. However, the real hook of a game like this is the DM editing tools.
Players can go into a campaign editor and actually create maps using both a top-down tile system, as well as a 3D editor to place objects. During the game, the DM player can take direct control of NPCs for conversations and can even control monsters during fights, shown in the GIFs further up in this article. It takes the concept of being a DM in a traditional D&D game to brand new heights.
The DM builds worlds and campaigns using assets that come prebaked with Mythica VR, but that will likely change over time. “We will release new content assets over time after the game releases,” Griffin explained. “Those will be sold as in-game purchases. But what we’d really like to have in the future, is an asset store where players can upload things they’ve made, sell those assets, and then we would just take a very small percentage of each sale.”
Mythica VR is raising funds on Kickstarter with a base goal of $80,000. The rewards are currently listed with an estimated delivery of July 2017, but that’s anything but a concrete release date for a crowdfunded project. The cheapest tier that gets you access to the game on release runs for $20, with several others above that.