Brass Tactics was a really invigorating project to work on and I felt that we as a company (and I personally) learned a tremendous amount about VR in general as well as general player interaction and behavior. Over the past several months I’ve brought the key takeaways and posted them on the Hidden Path website.
Since them I’ve cleaned them up as a series of blog/articles on Gamasutra. I also will be giving a talk at the XRDC conference at the end of the month talking about some of our particular solutions in more detail.
I’ve been quiet since the holidays, but it certainly isn’t for lack of activity. For my day job, February marked the release of Brass Tactics, a real time strategy game reinvented for VR headsets. The creation of Brass was really a fascinating adventure, one of the most interesting and invigorating creative challenges I’ve had in a lot of years.
Oculus gave us pretty much carte blanche to recreate a real-time strategy game that took advantage of the Rift platform as well as the Touch controllers. This allowed us to kick off the process with a delightful freedom on how to make the controls of an RTS feel tactile and engaging. We started with crazy-woop-woop-nuts ideas, but honed the game down to something that felt familiar yet fresh.
I’ve written a couple of blogs about this process on the Hidden Path website: The first blog post talks about our discovery of how we wanted to represent the world and how the player might interact with it. We started from a very wide set of possibilities that explored how to show the most information to the player with the most comfort. What we ended up with was quite clean, and felt comfortable for most people. Here’s the first ugly prototype reel.
The second blog was about how the player interacts with their troops, both selecting them and issuing orders. This seems simple but we went through a long process to figure it out. What we ended up with feels familiar, like using a mouse, but definitely embraces the physical nature of Touch. Directing your troops becomes like being a symphony director calling out orders fluidly, a dance that makes war happen. It was an achievement that we’re very proud of. Even more ugly here!
I still have one more prototype video that I need to accompany with a blog post. Luckily the pressure’s been off lately so I’ve been able to get back to working on Auto Fire. I’ll try to update y’all with where that’s been going shortly.
It’s been a crazy autumn. My work life has been crazy in the march to polish Brass Tactics for its February 22nd release date on Oculus Rift… The game was supposed to come out in October (and we were ready to go) but Oculus wanted to pay us to add some more pizzazz and customization features… Who were we to say no to that? As a result, we have more levels, a big helping of new units, customizable loadouts and unit colors, and the game is looking a fair amount better because we were able to refine our UI, lighting and materials. Pretty cool, but things have been a bit nutty.
Among all this, my wife and I headed off around Halloween to Australia and New Zealand for our 20th wedding anniversary, which was a blast. A couple weeks later things got weirder, however, as we hosted some friends for Thanksgiving dinner…
For some of the meal prep I was using a brand new mandolin slicer on some potatoes for a delicious potato dish. And those things are really sharp… As in, I sliced off two of my fingertips. Doh.
I guess it takes about 7 weeks to grow fingertips back… The human body is pretty amazing. (Or maybe I’m part lizard.) In the meantime, typing is kind of a pain in the butt… which is irritating because the 11-day holiday break is always the absolute best time to get coding done. I hope to be back in the swing of things (with still bandaged fingers) a little after New Years. Dammit.
I just spent the week down in San Francisco showing my new game at Hidden Path Entertainment called Brass Tactics. It’s a real-time strategy game built from the ground up for VR. The reception has been quite good from the press and developers, and I think we’ve created something special. Looking forward to finishing it off this fall!