Following the release of Layers of Fear VR on Oculus Quest we caught up with Bloober Team to talk about their work in VR horror and what the future holds.
Layers of Fear VR Developer, Bloober Team, Q&A:
UploadVR: When did work on the Quest version of the game start?
Szymon Erdmański, Game Producer at Bloober Team: We started toying with the idea of bringing Layers of Fear to the Quest sometime in the fall of 2019. We wanted to experiment with this new medium, as we feel that there is certainly a lot of promise in VR. So we locked ourselves up, deep-dived into the hardware, and we started to work.
As you might be aware, we released Layers of Fear on the Oculus Rift first. That helped us get a feel for VR and it taught us a lot about the medium too. With the Quest version, we needed to spend a bit of time on optimization, so that we could get the most from the hardware and the experience itself. So overall, it’s been nearly a year that we spent from first dipping our toes into the platform to having Layers of Fear debut on the Quest.
UploadVR: How challenging has it been to port the game to Quest? Having played both Quest and PC versions personally, I’ve seen some big, but understandable, changes.
Erdmański: The Oculus Quest is an awesome device to work with – and an even better one to play on. What makes it great is its cables-free experience – not its power. To bring the game to the Quest, we needed to do a lot of optimization. Pretty much, every level needed to go through optimization.
Another challenge that we needed to face was to still have the lack of loading screens between levels on the Quest. The original game was structured so that there are no loading screens interrupting gameplay – just one free-flowing, continuous gameplay experience. When we started working on the VR versions of Layers of Fear, we said that this “No Loading” feature is a must, especially since VR is sooo immersive. A loading screen would just break you out of it. So what we did is we made the upcoming/future levels load in the background, as the player plays the game. Our team had quite a bit of work to do on that front, but we are happy that we did it. Seeing no loading screens made it all worth it!
UploadVR: How much of the original Layers of Fear was designed with the idea that this may one day be a VR game in the back of your minds? Did it influence original development?
Erdmański: To be honest, the original Layers of Fear was designed with PCs and consoles in mind. However, as production went along, each one of us wondered how “Layers” would look in VR and how cool it would be to play it in VR. And so, a few years later, we’ve made the plunge 😉
UploadVR: On a similar front, how did work on the smaller Google Daydream edition, Layers of Fear: Solitude, inform the full VR version of the game?
Erdmański: Layers of Fear: Solitude taught us a lot on how to work in, and with, VR. The biggest change that we had to implement was the movement – we changed it so that players were able to teleport around the game. This meant that we also had to slightly redesign some parts of the game too.
However, when we started working on the Rift and the Quest versions, we kinda did a full circle, and we went back to the “original” Layers of Fear as the source material. It’s crazy how much of a leap VR has made in a few years.
UploadVR: Are you planning other VR ports of games like Layers of Fear 2, Blair Witch or The Medium?
Erdmański: To be honest, we do love the platform, the Oculus people are a joy to work with, we feel VR has a really bright future, and we do see our games and nightmares on the platform. So, we are not saying yes or no at this stage. I guess you just have to stay tuned for any news from us!
UploadVR: Would Bloober ever work on a native VR game from scratch?
Erdmański: We feel that VR is an amazing medium. It has so much potential – we are merely scratching the surface of it! As technology gets better, our understanding of it and how to use it will get better as well. It feels like there are so many new ways and possibilities to not just tell stories, but how to design gameplay mechanics. It feels still undiscovered. Saying all of this, who knows what the future might bring.
Would you like to see Bloober Team work on more VR projects? Let us know down in the comments below!