Back in April 2015 VRFocus reported that Polish indie developer The Astronauts would be integrating support for the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) into its popular first-person adventure title, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. To do this, the studio is releasing an updated edition of the title that runs on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, which is also coming to PlayStation 4. But the process isn’t an easy one, as The Astronauts has stated that it is effectively making a ‘different Ethan Carter’ to accommodate VR support.
The studio’s Adrian Chmielarz said as much in a recent interview with Eurogamer. “I want it. I really want VR to happen,” he told the site. “I remember even years ago I wrote about the future of VR – it was a sure thing for me, and I didn’t even know about VR at the time. So trust me, I am one of the biggest proponents of VR ever in the history of mankind!
“But we had these experiments before, we had Kinect, we had Wii, we had Virtual Boy. When tablets were first introduced – when Bill Gates introduced a tablet device – no one cared. Is this it? Is this the time? Is this going to catch on? I honestly don’t know.”
As such, The Astronauts is making sure that VR support isn’t simply tacked on to the new version of the videogame: “We found out after a heavy week of testing that we would have to make a different Ethan Carter,” Chmielarz said.
The developer promised some ‘significant changes’ to the title in order to fit VR. It looks as if Oculus Rift support will be added in after the release of the new version itself, then. As for possible support for other HMDs? Chimelarz revealed that the studio is currently only in possession of an Oculus Rift developer kit, and not respective kits the HTC Vive or Project Morpheus HMDs. “So it’s as simple as this: right now we’re supporting Oculus,” he stated.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter takes place in an open world environment in which players are cast as Paul Prospero, an occult-minded detective. Prospero travels to Red Creek Valley, the hometown of Ethan Carter, after receiving a distressing letter from the now missing boy. Having arriced, he uses supernatural abilities such as communicating with the dead to try and find Ethan.
It’s not yet clear when the new version of the title will arrive, nor when Oculus Rift support will be added. VRFocus will continue to follow The Vanishing of Ethan Carter closely, reporting back with any further updates on its progress.