Last month, Bolverk Games released their swamp-based VR shooter Dick Wilde. The game came out as a launch title for the PSVR AIM controller and ended up being the third most downloaded PSVR game in Europe for the month of May, even beating Farpoint. To talk about the game’s success, developing for VR hardware and the industry in general, I talked with Bo, the CEO of Bolverk Games.
Jake: So Bo, the game charted in the EU and US markets, what do you think the success is down to?
Bo: There’s a couple of things which went right for Dick Wilde. First of all we got to be a launch title for the PSVR controller. There were supposed to be seven launch titles I think, but you know, we were the only one other than the flagship title Farpoint. On a broader note, Dick Wilde kind of caters towards the PlayStation crowd. It has a second screen for your TV, it has a little party mode and you can swap the headset. The game is very instant, you don’t really have to learn anything before playing.
Jake: So speaking about the AIM controller, what was the development like and what do you think it added to the game?
Bo: We first tried the AIM controller at GDC in San Francisco. Luckily the guy in charge of launching it was actually on the booth presenting it for people. We just said, here’s our game Dick Wilde, we think it is a natural fit for the AIM controller. He was like “sure, can you get it done by May?” (Laughs) I said “of course we can!”. So developing with the AIM controller was really great because it’s a Sony products so it was done. I remember our last game Kittypocolypse launched alongside the Oculus Rift and all the way up to a few days before the full launch the framework was changing, Unity was changing. In that respect it was great.
Jake: Are you able to comment on how many players are actually using the AIM controller for Dick Wilde?
Bo: Erm yes, we have an online leaderboard which you can use to count them. From our internal statistics we have around 6000 active users on the AIM controller. I don’t have any official numbers from Sony but I’ve heard in passing that the AIM sold in six figures which works out at around one tenth of the PSVR population. If that’s true, I mean it was sort of a passing comment, but if it is true then that’s a great adoption rate for a peripheral.
Jake: Are you planning on updating the title at all in the future?
Bo: We are. There’s a patch coming to the game which fixes some exploits which some players were using to dual-wield AIM controller weapons. It was actually pretty smart, players were adding in an extra move controller as an AIM controller which allowed them to get on the leaderboards with twice as much firepower than everybody else. There’s also a tonne more audio content. One of the things which reviewers have mentioned is that the game can be a little repetitive so we’ve gone in and added several hundred more lines of dialogue. That’s all for this patch but moving forward we held a survey and lots of things were suggested like a casual mode. All of this is on our list of things we’d like to do if the game keeps on performing well.
Jake: Is there any particular VR game which has impressed you so far, do you have a favourite VR game?
Bo: Well of course I like both of our games (Laughs). But other than us I’ve got to give it to Superhot which just had that mechanic which instantly gave you that I know Kung Fu sensation from The Matrix and that just works SO well in VR. I think that there’s a lot of great games coming out now, I think you would have rightfully been a little disappointed back in November but now there’s a decent selection and with the announcements at E3, there’s a surge of VR headset purchases on the way. Fallout in VR, I’m certain that most people in the world would like to try that.
Jake: You have to develop for multiple headsets, how does that work and do you have to scale the game back to fit the lowest common denominator?
Bo: Vive and Oculus are pretty much the same, if you are smart in how you develop for it then it’s relatively simple and you can use the same build. You’ve got to be a little careful about the fact that most Oculus Touch players will only have two cameras which means they can hide the controllers using their body. You have to think in terms of 180 degrees on Oculus and 360 degrees on the Vive if you want to build for both. PlayStation is a different beast and it does take a while to port over. It’s easier if you think about these things at the start of development. On Kittypocolypse we were not so smart so it will be very hard to port to PlayStation, probably not worth the effort.
Jake: In ideal world, what’s the dream VR game you’d like to make?
Bo: Well we initially set out to make the ultimate real time strategy game for consoles. It’s what consoles haven’t yet been able to take from PCs yet. Multi-select, manipulating large groups, you just can’t do these things with a controller. So VR really helps, you can zoom in and select when you have your hands with you in VR. So that is something we wanted to build but you know, we learn a lot from game to game and it might not be a real time strategy game, which will be Bolverk Games’ ultimate game but there is a third game in the works, I won’t say too much about it, but yeah.
Jake: Just one more question for you Bo, what’s your Dick Wilde weapon of choice?
Bo: I’m definitely a nail gun kind of guy. The two modes can be used to under aim and do a massive amount of damage. That’s the combo for me. I know I’m going against the fans here who like their shotgun/shield combo, which works great don’t get me wrong but you know, why hide behind a shield when you can blast things? Some people really haven’t figured out dodging in Dick Wilde, in reality you can dodge almost anything.
Jake: So your pro tip for the players would be simply dodge?