Pastimes For Pirates Developer Diary #2 – Navigating The Early Waters
Make Real's Sam Watts discusses how the state of the VR industry and learnings from other products are shaping their latest title Pastimes For Pirates.
In the first dev blog for VRFocus, we looked at the creation of the initial mobile virtual reality (VR) prototype and how this evolved into a full VR design, ready for pitching to publishers alongside the high-level design document and pitchdeck.
Following on from the high of XR Connects and the XR Indie Pitch 3rd place, we had lots of interest and positive initial discussions but getting a new game funded is never a straight-forward process. So, whilst the seas are calm and there’s less wind in the sails, we’ve been able to take the time to look at other areas of the game to ensure its appeal and success for launch.
Crow’s Nest View
VR games development in 2018 – especially the funding of – is not an easy task for a studio to secure. With many publishers and platforms looking to sign the next level of experiences against an ever-rising bar of quality and quantity of expected features for gamers.
Whilst the installed hardware ownership numbers are growing (although we still only really know the Sony PlayStation VR numbers) the overall market size is still small in comparison to standard PC and/or console hardware numbers, where publishers are much more experienced in releasing content.
A studio must be canny and have a considered design that meets the requirements of gamers keen to get their hands on deeper, longer experiences. Indies working on new IP are up against big brand names, such as Fallout 4, Skyrim, DOOM etc, potentially having a hard time to show and prove that they can create bigger budget content with a scalable team effectively. However, expected returns have to be realistic in terms of budgets and projected sales revenues.
Wind In The Sails
So, we’re focusing on the aspects that will make sure that Pastimes for Pirates is as attractive as possible to potential publishers, namely:
- Multi-platform release to ensure largest potential cross-platform player base for multiplayer
- Strong single player experience to ensure there is always a reason to return outside of multiplayer.
- Based upon our experience and successes with Loco Dojo, ensuring that there is a reason or element of the gameplay that will make the game appealing to VR Arcade operators and the various VR Arcade admin platforms and content channels.
- Strong launch content with a regular update plan, to ensure the game feels fresh and has reasons to be featured on the various digital stores, driving continued awareness and favourable positioning.
Plotting A Course
As discussions continue, we often tweak the pitchdeck accordingly so that as time moves on, the proposed game concept isn’t left behind or overtaken by advances made elsewhere. Whilst the core gameplay pillars are largely left untouched from our original intended idea, we must be mindful of areas around what the extended features and functionality need to be, how it fits within the marketplace and competitor analysis. Whilst we’re sure on what it offers that’s specifically the reason to be played in VR, each publisher and/or platform has their own unique emphasis on what model and demographics are important for them.
For example, there’s a popular wave of pirate-themed games at the moment, with many focusing on the more stereotypical activities – but with limited repeat play depth and no emphasis on life outside of the usual looting, swashbuckling and hunting treasure.
Of course, changes in scope can have adverse effects on timelines, budgets and development resources needed to achieve v1.0 (and beyond) so it’s a careful juggling act to ensure we remain within the thresholds.
A pitchdeck is only a small part of the tale however; the main concept has to be conveyed by the prototype, which we’ll look at in the next dev blog as we build upon the initial version towards a more representative vertical slice.