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Racing to Kickstart VR: Tammeka Dev Diary #4

This must be a nail-biting time for indie developer Tammeka Games as it enters the final week of its Kickstarter campaign for upcoming sci-fi racer Radial-G. The developer still has some ground to cover if it is to reach its funding goal of £50,000 by 2nd August 2014. Fortunately the title is due to receive some unique coverage this week in America, and has been seeing plenty of support for industry figureheads such as Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) creator Palmer Luckey.

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But Kickstarter campaigns don’t fund themselves; Tammeka Games has been working hard pushing hard to get as much coverage of the title as possible. That includes this week’s diary in which the developer’s Sam Watts talks about bringing Radial-G to other platforms such as mobile and, hopefully, the PlayStation 4 with Project Morpheus support. VRFocus will continue to bring you the latest on Radial-G as its campaign winds down, but for now we’ll leave you with Sam.

So we’ve covered previously that first and foremost, we designed Radial-G with the intention of it being a game for Oculus Rift / VR from the beginning but that doesn’t mean we aren’t looking at other platforms to support.

We are obviously aware that the commercial version of Oculus Rift isn’t available nor has it even got a release date yet (at time of writing anyway) and that a relatively small number of people have a DK1 or a DK2 (which should have started shipping to pre-order customers at time of publishing this dev blog) and so, to make a game successful, we have to look at a larger potential audience base of just 100,000. Through playtesting and following VR gaming news, we have also seen a level of apathy or dislike of VR amongst a subset of gamers as well, so we need to appeal to them too.

This is why we developed the game to have a “2D NOculus-mode” (as we call it) available as an option, as well as supporting Oculus Rift VR HMDs. You can try this for yourself in the single player demo that’s available.

However, we want to look at a wider set of availability options beyond PC, Mac & Linux as well, since as we are currently developing the game using Unity, we have the flexibility and options to output builds on other platforms too. It’s not just a case of spitting out a mobile build by clicking a button, there are obvious technical challenges to overcome and levels of optimisation and alternative control input methods we need to incorporate as well, but the general game design allows us this flexibility.

We’re looking at recent generation tablet devices and high-end smartphones, which have the graphical horsepower and CPU grunt to be able to display the game at the framerates we require, with the level of fidelity from the screen to provide that sensation of speed we love. Due to the relative simplicity of the design, we can offer tilt or touch controls that will not detract from the gaming experience. We are especially excited about potentially being able to release a mobile VR version for up-and-coming headsets such as AlterGaze and VrAse.

Our ultimate goal for releasing the game on other platforms is to release the game on the Sony Morpheus headset with PlayStation 4 support. Again, we can achieve this with Unity and have begun discussions with them and Sony as to how we can achieve this. We expect there to be enough appeal from our Kickstarter backers to be able to fund the development if Sony is not willing to cover the costs of licensing & the dev kit hardware. If they are, then we will spend the additional funds received, that were earmarked for this aspect of development, back into the game towards more content or bringing planned, future features forward for the 1st release. Since we’ve had Shuhei Yoshida play the game and request the Morpheus support, we are now actively working with Sony to bring this stage forwards in our schedules. But we still need to raise enough funds for development and increase our reach within the PS4 gamer community.

All of this is all very well assuming that the Kickstarter campaign is hugely successful, which of course we aim for it to be. However, with years of experience in AAA game development and publishing, we know that things don’t always go according to plan, and so I’ll look at our alternative options we have available to put into action should we need to…