Countdown to ‘Phantom: Covert Ops’—Interview with nDreams Art Director Glenn Brace
What was the inspiration behind Phantom: Cover Ops? How has the game changed over time?
As a studio we we’re very focused on pushing long-form game concepts that really push VR. But there were known challenges: first-person shooting mechanics and pace in VR, challenges with freedom of movement, fidelity of rendering, and world exploration were all well-documented issues or sometimes criticisms of existing larger VR titles.
How long was the game in development? Any favorite anecdotes you’d like to share?
As for anecdotes, “Tac-Yak.” It was coined by the guys at Giant Bomb, but god damn, I wish I came up with that years ago! Saying, “canoe,” in a boardroom full of execs followed by, “Trust me, play it.” Man, if I could have just hit them with “Tac-Yak” then I would have had a much easier time convincing people earlier on.
How did you get the look and feel just right?
GB: Well this was one of the most fun, perhaps even dogmatic bits! Being involved with early VR development, we were quite clued-in to the various performance issues and hardware limitations that surround VR, etc. Against common conjecture within the gaming industry, I was convinced that you could create contemporary console fidelity and graphics for VR in a fully explorable world—basically do the thing people say can’t be done!
How did your previous work in VR help inform your work on Phantom?
I’d go as far as to say that Phantom represents the accumulation of many years in VR by both myself and my comrades into one complete experience. Working through the early days of VR has afforded me quite a holistic education. From the importance of legibility and visual clarity and tricks to achieve those, to challenging the preconceptions of game development, prototyping beyond known mechanics, and truly exploring what VR has to offer as a real next-generation gaming platform.
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen so far when demoing the game?
He was so fearful of getting spotted, his natural survival instincts just kicked in. With literally no introduction or tutorials, it was a testament to the literal, 1:1 nature of the interactions and spatial awareness you get only from VR.
Jun 27, 2020 at 02:14