A million bullets, almost as large as a person, flying at you from all directions. The source of these dangerous flying projectiles: turrets.
Spectre is a multi-player virtual reality experience being developed by Proscenium, with the support of Hollywood creature artist, Fabrizio Bortolussi. It has been in development since the first annual VR Jam in 2013, where it was a Top Finalist, and is currently seeking Kickstarter support.
They have already achieved their original funding goal of $15,000 USD but, with less than 72 hours left, there is still a collection of stretch goals to hit that will add new maps, monster models, mechanics and game modes for a greater experience.
I was able to get an interview with Ryan Anderson, Project Lead of Spectre, and talk to him about his experiences with VR, the inspiration for Spectre and what his mission plan is for tackling the long standing problem of horror games, re-playability. He also forwarded my final question to Fabrizio Bortolussi, Concept Designer and Art Director for Spectre, about the differences of working on a VR title.
Q: Before Spectre, what other experiences have you had in the development of VR games, or games as a whole?
Ryan: I studied games and simulation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where I began developing games. The first VR project I worked on was an adaptation of a game I made at RPI called Asunder, which is not to be confused with the Rift game, Asunder: Earthbound.
Q: Out of your previous experiences, which ones have been influential, if any, in the creation and development of Spectre. How?
Ryan: Spectre is a unique game, not influenced by any of my past games or projects. However, there are a wealth of games that influenced Spectre’s design and game-play. Spectre’s asynchronous game-play was inspired by the Luigi’s Ghost Mansion mini-game in Nintendo Land, while the feelings of suspense and foreboding we create with subtle visual and audio cues draws some influence from Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Q: Quite a few of the recent horror games are built on jump-scares. This leads to a lack of re-playability because the player knows what to expect. How do you plan to provide a truly horrifying single-player experience that is still scary the second time round?
Ryan: Re-playability is a problem for many horror games because the scares are often scripted events with no variation between playthroughs. In Spectre, multi-player addresses that issue. Handing the scares over to the players creates true randomness.
Q: In multi-player, how will the experience differ for Seekers and the Spectre?
Ryan: The game-play experience will vary drastically between Seekers and the Spectre. With much less at their disposal, Seekers are comparatively weak and vulnerable to the Spectre. Teamwork can help, but ultimately, Seekers are on the run from the demented spirit. The Spectre acts alone and has a wealth of abilities at its disposal which can be used to startle, disorient, and immobilize Seekers, rendering them easy targets for the Spectre’s deadly embrace. Players in both roles will find game-play tense and creepy, but strategies for winning are entirely different.
So experiencing a VR game with the abominations I create will, and this is a statement, definitely scare the hell out of you. Fabrizio Bortolussi
Q: How will you ensure the multi-player delivers a chilling VR experience comparable to the single-player?
Ryan: From the eyes of a Seeker, single and multi-player will be vastly different experiences. Many of the abilities the Spectre player can use are specific to multi player. These abilities will only stir up more fear and tension for Seeker players. For example, one trap blurs your vision, making it hard to see and navigate, while also hinting that the Spectre is lurking nearby. Another trap disguises itself as a team-mate who has been caught by the Spectre. It lures you in to help, but when you reach out your hand to help, it turns on you, jumping up and screaming in your face. We are having fun thinking up new abilities in addition to those for the Spectre to utilize against the other players.
Q: How does working on a VR title differ from previous games you have worked on?
Fabrizio: On non-VR games you get scared, you shit your pants, but it is you staring at a screen. There is no real live interaction, therefore the ‘scariness’ is definitely limited.
Working on a VR horror game is on a totally new level since you believe you are ‘inside’ the game. This brings fear and adrenaline to a level that is not even comparable with non-VR games.
I never, ever screamed out loud when playing a videogame, or when watching a horror film but, believe me, I did scream like a baby when playing some VR-powered games. Sometimes I even had to remove the headset because my heart was going too fast. This is a technology that will bring gaming to a whole new level and I believe that, in the following years, we will see stuff that, for now, is just science fiction.
So experiencing a VR game with the abominations I create will, and this is a statement, definitely scare the hell out of you.
So far, the first stretch goal has been unlocked. This will add a new multi-player map with unique soundtrack, another horrifying Spectre model and expanded ghost mechanics. At $19,000 USD, a single-player mode called Silence will be added so go support them in the final stretch.