Behind the Scenes of VR Stealth Shooter ‘Phantom: Covert Ops’
During the Facebook: Game Developers Showcase, nDreams announced that Phantom: Covert Ops will launch June 25 on both Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform. We sat down with nDreams Game Director Lewis Brundish to learn more.
What does it take to develop a truly impressive VR game? Any tips for indie devs?
Several times throughout the development of Phantom, we were faced with situations that there was no rulebook for, so we would encourage everyone to come up with potential ideas and then try as many as we could. Often the right answer for VR is something that you wouldn’t normally expect from traditional game development, so don’t be afraid to venture into new territory.
Where did you get the idea for such a unique locomotion system?
LB: One of the core goals of the project (before we even fully knew what the game was going to be) was to find new ways of moving around in VR. We wanted to come up with a way of moving in VR that was totally 1:1 (so no analog sticks or teleporting), that would allow players to explore an environment freely, and that people could play comfortably for long periods of time. but we found that the kayak and paddle combination gave the perfect level of immersive 1:1 control combined with comfort for long play sessions.
Was it hard to balance opponents and stealth in a game about a kayak?
When people first hear the idea of mixing stealth gameplay with kayaking they often aren’t sure how it’s going to work, but when you play the game it’s actually a really good fit. The most challenging element is that many enemies don’t share the same navigation area as the player; there are several varieties of enemy boats patrolling the water, but most of the enemies you encounter are on land, so you don’t directly cross paths with them. It’s quite rare to have enemies in a stealth game that cannot cross paths directly with the player, so we’ve had to come up with a lot of tricks to keep these guards threatening and interactive. It’s a really cool way of giving the player an immersive stealth experience that wouldn’t be possible outside of VR.
How did you create the different weapons and make them as realistic as possible?
We didn’t want to go down the full simulation route as we think that would be too alienating for a lot of players, so we’ve put a lot of work into making the weapons look and sound realistic while being quick and intuitive to pick up and use. I’ve also had a few playtesters ask me if there’s a button to hold your breath... there is no button, you just have to actually hold your breath!
What inspired you to make a stealth military kayaking game?
LB: A big inspiration for us is the SBS—they’re a British Royal Navy special forces unit that specializes in water-based missions, kayaking, and espionage. Another group that served as an inspiration are the US Navy Seals. We actually had a former Navy Seal play our game at E3 last year—he said it was his game of the show and felt true to missions that he had been on.
Do you have a kayak in the office?
LB: We have brought a kayak into the office before, but we don’t have one in permanent residence. The neat thing about VR is that we don’t really need one—if you sit down (particularly on the floor if you want to get really immersive) and then put the headset on, it feels like you are really in a kayak!
Apr 07, 2020 at 11:08