We recently had the chance to ask nDreams, the developers of the upcoming VR title The Assembly, some questions about their game, its development on different platforms and their opinion on VR in general.
First of all, The Assembly is an upcoming story-led adventure VR game about a mysterious organisation doing questionable experiments hidden from the world and government. Check out the trailer below for first impressions. It is currently being developed by nDreams and is going to be released for Project Morpheus, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
We had many questions about this very intriguing game, and nDreams didn’t hesitate to answer all of them. Their Senior Designer Jackie Tetley, Art Manager Martin Field and Development Manager Jamie Barber, along with their Communications Manager George Kelion, sat down together to provide us with some interesting insights.
Why did you decide to develop The Assembly exclusively for VR?
nDreams: The experience of putting on a VR headset for the first time made us realise this tech truly is the future and we simply had to be a part of it. There really is no substitute for playing a VR game – the jump in terms of immersion and presence has to be experienced to be believed. We quickly found that experiences that mimic real-life become immensely more engaging in virtual reality. Adventure games tend to be more narrative-driven and leisurely paced, allowing players to really soak up the environment, which is something we wanted to explore with The Assembly. People in VR like to explore, look at the details around them – that’s why adventure games work so well. With The Assembly, we’ve focused on making the most accomplished VR adventure to date – not just putting you on rails and allowing you to explore a pretty but limited environment, but rather a fully-fledged gaming experience that really shows off the captivating power of VR.
In The Assembly the players face moral choices, how do these choices affect the further path of the game?
nDreams: In The Assembly, players will be confronted with multiple moral dilemmas as well as various side-plots and multiple different endings to the game, so hopefully some players will want to play through several times. We don’t employ a branching dialogue system, instead different in-game actions and events occur depending on the decisions a player has made in-game. In VR, we found that choosing the things you do was more powerful than choosing the things you say, so we focused on choice through action rather than conversation trees. While certain choices made in-game produce diverse outcomes, ultimately both Cal and Madeline’s trajectories are headed towards the same destination, albeit with different conclusions.
The story was written by Tom Jubert. How did he adapt the story for virtual reality?
nDreams: Tom Jubert was brought in to develop The Assembly’s initial story outline at the pre-production stage and he did a fantastic job. As development progressed and the game began to take shape, the sequence of in-game events moved away from Tom’s original treatment. To expand The Assembly’s narrative, we brought in Robert Morgan, who’s worked on the narrative and dialogue for a number of other VR-first games. Rob worked with our designers to iterate and develop the dialogue and characterisation and we think the end result is a compelling, character-driven narrative adventure in VR that really compliments the game’s mechanics. Given that the story centres around two perspectives, having two writers has added a welcome extra dimension to the game’s atmosphere.
How much does using a headset plus a controller all while sitting affect the immersiveness of the game?
nDreams: Currently The Assembly can be played with a gamepad and we expect the gamers who pick up VR systems at launch to be very comfortably familiar with this input method. As gamers, we’re all so intimately familiar with gamepad that it’s incredibly rare for us to have to look down and glance at the pad to see, for example, which button is ‘X’ or which button ‘A’. As such, we don’t really see the controller as being a barrier to immersion as gamers already treat it as natural extension of their body when playing a game. Furthermore, The Assembly has a simple control scheme – you won’t have to memorise and hammer out combos to complete the game! Maintaining a limited number of button inputs helps to preserve that sense of immersion.
We’ll be exploring PS Move integration later on this year and would like the game to support Oculus Touch when that controller launches next year, although nothing is confirmed at present. Nevertheless, we can definitely envision the future benefits of using motion controls in VR games.
Continue: Development of The Assembly