Virtual reality (VR) has seen a lot of tech demos, virtual tours and early test beds since the release of the original Oculus Rift developer kit. Only a handful of of these experiences gather as much attention as indie developer Iris VR’s TECHNOLUST, though. The developer’s free demo has turned a lot of heads with its impressive virtual space, designed with a fantastic cyberpunk art style and littered with pop culture references.
But there’s more to TECHNOLUST than this small sample. VRFocus recently spoke to the developer’s Blair Renaud about the project and where it will go from here. In the interview below Renaud talks about the work that went into the demo, the response it’s received and the elusive ‘Chapter 2’ listed as a Kickstarter stretch goal. Speaking of which, the campaign is nearing its $30,000 USD goal with 16 days to go, and has already passed its Steam Greenlight campaign. It seems like TECHNOLUST is destined to go places.
VRFocus: Where did the idea for TECHNOLUST come from?
Blair Renaud: The idea for the story came to me a while ago when I was thinking about 3D printing while I was downloading things I may or may not have paid for. It occurred to me that some day (in the near future) we would be downloading files to print actual physical products. How would this be restricted? Would anyone be able to download and print whatever products they wanted to? I’m sure that the corporations would want to capitalize on these products just like they do with all things… so it just kind of went from there.
VRFocus: Your Kickstarter suggests that there will be a story involving the players joining a resistance against corporations. How will that play out? Will there be any action, for example?
Blair Renaud: There will defiantly be action, but maybe not in the sense that people are used to. You definitely won’t be running around with an AR-15 shooting the place up. That’s not your style. You’re a hacker in Technolust. You use your wits and your knowledge to get what you want. There will be a lot of manipulating systems and people to get the results you desire. That being said, there is a kung-fu implant right there in the demo, so this may be a hint to something else.
VRFocus: The demo has seen a lot of praise. What do you think has drawn people to TECHNOLUST?
Blair Renaud: I’m a bit overwhelmed with the praise actually. I’m so grateful that people enjoy the direction I’m taking. I think what draws people to it is a combination of things. It’s easy to pick up and play. I made sure of that. A lot of people appreciate the aesthetic. Some like the nostalgia. But I think first and foremost, it’s a cyberpunk dystopia made for VR. If that’s not what VR was made for, I’m not sure what is.
VRFocus: How much time went into creating the demo alone?
Blair Renaud: Roughly a month, probably less. I’m still working part-time doing my day job as a VFX artist for films.
VRFocus: How can we expect the full title to come along from the demo?
Blair Renaud: The full release will be more and better ?. Aside from a much expanded story, there will be NPCs to interact with, a body for the player (obviously), tons and tons of easter eggs / references to find, movies to collect and watch, VR experiences to try inside the world and much much more.
VRFocus: You’ve said that a non-VR version is a possibility; why go with VR only at first?
Blair Renaud: Technolust is built from the ground up for VR. I really want people to experience it the way it’s meant to be played. It’s a difficult sell with the limited amount of VR hardware currently available, but I think once you try it in the Oculus Rift, you’ll immediately see why. As I’ve said, I may make a non-VR version, but it will be near the end of the development cycle. Hopefully everyone will have a Rift by then and I won’t have to.
VRFocus: Could you see TECHNOLUST reaching the PlayStation 4 and Project Morpheus headset?
Blair Renaud: I would love that. Assuming someone doesn’t offer me some kind of exclusivity deal, I want the widest audience possible to enjoy what I’m making as much as I enjoy making it. I’m just a small indie developer though. It would take more money and resources to port to PS4 than I have available to me now. We’ll see what happens in the future though. Wish me luck. 😉
VRFocus: Your Kickstarter stretch goal lists ‘Chapter 2’ as its final target. What exactly would ‘Chapter 2’ involve?
Blair Renaud: Basically that level of funding would allow us to make a second game, continuing the story. The stretch goals listed on the kickstarter aren’t set in stone though. As we get closer to our funding goal new opportunities may be afforded to us, allowing us to do things that we hadn’t thought possible before.