PIERS J A CKSON T OM J ONES
Game director; art director, Guerrilla Games Cambridge
With RIGS Mechanized Combat League, Guerrilla Games Cambridge is attempting to redefine the online team shooter for VR while at the same time creating a deep game into which players can comfortably pour hours of their time. Here, game director Piers Jackson and art director Tom Jones set out how PSVR has helped them to achieve that goal.
How have you found working with PSVR?
Piers Jackson From my perspective, the hardware has been really exciting. It’s been really refreshing after a couple of decades working in the game industry to see something quite as revolutionary as PSVR. I think there is genuine magic in VR, and I think PSVR is doing a really fantastic job of it.
What do you think it is that makes PSVR feel revolutionary in the wake of Rift and Vive?
PJ They’re all solving VR in different ways. I think PlayStation has a very good opportunity just because of its installed base, and the HMD unit itself has been designed particularly well – it’s very comfortable to wear and adjust.
Tom Jones Obviously, as a firstparty developer we got access to it early, and we’ve had the backing to push out a high-calibre game that isn’t just a short experience. RIGS is a full-on game with singleplayer and multiplayer that we want people to keep coming back to. I think one of our focuses has been to make something quite comprehensive and exciting as an experience, and that is part of us being at Sony – it wouldn’t have happened elsewhere.
How has PSVR enabled that?
PJ I think it buys us more time with people. The lightness and the fit of it is very good – the hardware team have done a fantastic job of creating the PSVR experience, from putting it on to how it balances on your head. So people will be comfortable for longer wearing the unit. One of the things that the VR unit does well is that it breathes really well – there is a gap between it and your face, and you can adjust it farther away if you want, so you’re getting air moving up between your face and the visor, which I think helps a lot. I think you can get immersed in the game without getting engulfed in it, and that’s kind of an important fact and a real win for PSVR.
TJ And it stops it being a barrier to entry. Certainly from my point of view, being a man who wears glasses, it’s the only headset that doesn’t rip them off the moment I take it off. Which is quite nice! [Laughs] It’s not talked about very often, but it is an exceptionally comfortable piece of kit once you get used to it.
Have you found it a struggle to achieve RIGS’s visuals in VR using PS4?
PJ PlayStation VR’s actual screen hardware is exceptionally good, and we have a very powerful console in the PS4 sitting behind it – but it’s a fixed platform, so we as developers have the opportunity to create something that’s dedicated to that one piece of hardware and get the most out of it. If we were on PC we’d be aiming at a bit more of a moving target.
TJ As proven with previous hardware, things like that only get better as the knowledge base increases and we find cheaper and more effective ways of doing things. That’s something that’s really exciting in the long term, but actually in the short term the key thing in terms of judging the visuals is that you can’t really view it as a 2D image any more. You can’t take a 2D image from VR and compare it to a 2D image created natively on PS4 because actually it’s about looking at it in the headset. So, sure, if you take a screenshot and compare them side by side, it’s not going to be as amazing. But it’s more than just seeing – it’s also experiencing.
PS4 Pro makes that target a little less fixed, though.
PJ I think that all challenges are important – they force us to evaluate what we’re doing and make us push harder and try new ideas. We’ve been showing RIGS for a little bit longer than a year and a half now on a base PS4, with great results. I’m sure we’ll push the benchmark higher with Pro, but certainly my experience of working with the PlayStation 4 and PSVR has been very good to date.
FROM TOP Piers Jackson and Tom Jones