I know what you’ve been thinking: “Where is that beautiful blog update I look forward to every month from my favourite VR developer Cloudhead Games? Has the Great Vancouver Island Snowfall of 2017 buried them under an ivory blanket of death? How will the True Promise of VR survive?”
And to you, our distraught friend, let me say, “boy, do I have some good news.”
Last time we talked, Call of the Starseed was closing the year out as one of the top-rated VR games from all of 2016, taking home 7 awards, 13 nominations, and inclusion in more than a dozen “Best VR Games” lists including PC Gamer and TIME. We shipped out backer rewards and our Rift version hit Oculus Home and Steam. We moved full-force into Episode 2.
Inside The Gallery
Released in partnership with HTC Vive, Inside The Gallery is our new developer diaries series chronicling the development of Heart of the Emberstone through to release in the Spring. We’re producing these videos entirely in-house, so we get to show you behind-the-scenes with developer interviews and exclusive footage of the game.
The series so far has discussed our new approach to design, the world players will embark across in Emberstone, and our first major in-VR mocap session for Episode 2 with all new characters! This week, we put out our latest video recapping our time at GDC and the anticipation leading up to the event. Plus, our first gameplay reveal! You can check out the full Inside The Gallery playlist for all the videos so far, and make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel to get all the news hot off the presses.
If you don’t have the bandwidth for video, you can find Dan’s write up on cinematics in VR over on the Made with Unity site, read about each Inside The Gallery episode courtesy of UploadVR (here’s one on the World of Ember), or check out their hands-on impressions from our GDC Gameplay Teaser!
GDC, GDC, GDC, GDC!
Speaking of GDC, the 2017 Game Developers Conference was our fourth year running (it’s been that long!?) with a booth at the event. As well as showing Episode 2 for the first time, Denny spoke on an all-star panel called “Winning at VR: Developer Success Stories” alongside fellow Vive developers Owlchemy Labs, Northway Games, and more! As for the demo, we didn’t have just one space, but two full-roomscale booths thanks to both Unity and Valve.
Unity gave us a literal room to ourselves—their “booth” was a bunch of demo stations surrounding a Made with Unity house they built on the show floor. We were in an upstairs room in this executive-looking hall of the house, complete with mood lighting and a live GoPro feed streaming our booth to the show floor outside. There were bouncers and a line up that traced the edge of the Unity space. If it were any other expo, we would have been signing autographs and sharing selfies on Instagram. But while we didn’t take any selfies, we did get this picture of Heart of the Emberstone featured on the gargantuan Unity screen displaying to the whole show floor.
Valve on the other hand had their own private show floor, and we had a swanky booth with them to share the game with press and investors and other high-profile attendees. Valve was even kind enough to let us demo at both booths with the new Deluxe Audio Strap for the Vive, which gave it a healthy boost in audio quality and comfort perfect for immersing players in The Gallery. Which, in turn, was a huge plus when we had executives from film studios come by praising our visual and sound design, and cinematic storytelling. Now we’re just dreaming of turning our favourite movie series into the perfect VR game…
On the last day of GDC, Denny trucked it from one event to the next, attending Cinequest Film and VR festival to do a talk on how to create an immersive VR experience. We also got to show off the demo for Heart of the Emberstone throughout the festival which was a pleasure to bring the game to an even broader audience.
Overall, the response to the Emberstone teaser was nothing short of incredible. This was the first time we’ve shown EP2 gameplay publicly, and every VR fan that came by was excited for more. We had comments about how polished the graphics looked, how good the puzzles felt in VR, and how awestruck they were by the end of their short five minutes with the game; developers from Google, Sony, Naughty Dog, and more all left our booth impressed. And when just a five-minute demo was getting players excited like that, we can’t wait for you to see what we’ve been cooking once you’re free to play the full game for hours.
This GDC was our first major conference demo since the launch of Call of the Starseed, and it was simply humbling to see and hear first-hand the effect EP1 has had on VR. We had devs come up to us the whole event and tell us how much they loved Starseed, how it inspired them to get into VR, and how we’re pushing the bar for virtual reality higher. Knowing that we’ve made this sort of impact as a small team inspires us to move forward with new ideas that excite us as much as they excite you. Read hands-on experiences from UploadVR and Road to VR.
And that’s what makes The Gallery The Gallery—we want to expand the realm of virtual reality, inspire players, and make VR something to remember. So, thanks for helping us do that.
If you want to learn more about Heart of the Emberstone, you can check out our newly relaunched website complete with Cloudhead’s history and info on Episode 2! Also, make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel, and get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook @cloudheadgames to get news first.
Next month we’ll be back with a retrospective on EP1 as we hit one year since launch! Whew!