VR is a medium that is still in its infancy, but games that try to take advantage of the very particular and specific capabilities of virtual reality occupy a unique space in the gaming industry. Due solely to their nature, they try to offer experiences that are very different from what one would expect from a regular video game in the most fundamental way. One of those titles is Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams, which, above all, is a collection of environments that, combining beautiful images and artistic style with evocative music, seem to be places where you can exist and relax. It's a curious concept and, curious as it may be, we send some of our questions about the game to the developers of Frost Earth Studio. The following questions were answered by Andrea Marinelli, head of development at Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams.
"Sometimes it's a shame to have so many beautiful games with beautiful scenery, but the goal of the game keeps pushing you forward, and very often you can't stay and enjoy the atmosphere, because the game distracts you with monsters, other people to shoot at, and so on. But this is different in Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams, because we specifically want the player to take his time, listen to each sound, enjoy the music and enjoy the moment."
How did the idea of making a game that focuses more on immersing the player in an environment instead of one that focuses more on the story or the action?
The main idea of the concept was at the beginning of the Oxygene Media publishing house and we worked together to make it what it is today. I think the concept is absolutely valid, and the reason is that there are already a lot of games focused on history and action, but almost none trying to do something different. Sometimes it's a shame to have so many beautiful games with beautiful landscapes, but the goal of the game keeps pushing you forward, and very often you cannot stay and enjoy the environment, because the game distracts you with monsters, with other people to shoot at, etc. But this is different in Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams, because we specifically want the player to take his time, listen to each sound, enjoy the music and enjoy the moment.
And with the kind of atmosphere we could create, I think there really are reasons to stay and relax in the environment. Nevertheless, Labyrinth mind It is not only music and environments, but it still has some game aspects, such as runes to hit on inspirational quotes or hidden spheres to find and unlock a special scenario.
We believe that there is a part of VR players who expected a more peaceful and emotional experience, and Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams Deliver exactly that.
How music and art work in Labyrinth mind Make sure that it evokes the correct answers and emotions of the players?
While we are all different and, as such, everyone reacts to images and music in different ways, there is still a common pattern that we can follow, both visually and musically. We have different types of scenes, some of them are much more peaceful, others are more adrenaline or more adventurous. We make sure that the default music combined with a specific scenario evokes a specific emotion. Obviously, as I said, everyone can react differently, but it's really weird that you don't find your own piece of world to relax in Labyrinth mind. We have a great variety that should be good for many tastes. Last but not least, we also take advantage of chromotherapy with many different scenarios with different predominant colors that help evoke the right emotion.
How many different types of environments are there in Labyrinth mind?
Labyrinth mind It has 10 environments in total, plus another that is unlockable. Most environments are relaxing, a couple is a bit richer, we also have one that is specifically darker and a little more scary. But most of them are for positive emotions.
Can you tell us a little about how the puzzles work in the game?
We have some simple puzzles in the game, but they are there to be mixed with the main idea of the game of simply being there, chilling and relaxing. There are really few puzzles in some specific "dreams", and they are not particularly challenging, so as not to feel frustrated, but not even so simple. However, they are not the main focus of the game.
"I really feel that this game is born and is destined to be played in virtual reality from the beginning. I am sure that if we ever decided to launch it on non-virtual reality platforms, it should have many changes, but this is not planned at all for now. We are 100% focused on the virtual reality experience."
Labyrinth mind It seems the kind of game that wants its players to interact with its surroundings: does the game itself do something to encourage it or to push players in that direction, or does it depend on the curiosity of the player?
The more curious the player is, the more he can interact. The interactions are there to improve the experience, increase the immersion and create that moment of amazement when you realize that you can really choose a candle to light fireworks, or extract a sword from a rock and so on. We want players to interact with the environment, but we don't want it to be obvious, so players must understand and feel how they can interact.
Given the narrative surrounding virtual reality games and motion sickness, how did you try to avoid a possible problem with Labyrinth mind?
We have enabled the teleport by default. system. The teleporter is one of the most used and comfortable systems for those people who cannot really remain in virtual reality for too long, or are particularly sensitive to dizziness. We also obtained an instant rotation, which is also quite common in virtual reality, to prevent motion sickness while turning the camera artificially. However, we always encourage people to deactivate the teleporter and use the free locomotion system, which allows players to walk and run where they want, because that is the most recommended way to play. Labyrinth mind to truly explore every inch. We also make sure we have slow and steady movements instead of many different accelerations, which also help a lot when walking in virtual reality.
In general, we really don't listen to anyone feeling dizzy in our title.
Can you tell us a little about what are your plans for DLC and post-launch support?
Of course! We are already working on our first patch, which should already improve some things. Our first patch should fix and improve some things, such as improving some assets, improving and adjusting some volumes of effects, and we are almost done with an improved interaction system that should make it much easier to grab and interact with objects. Both with DualShock and PS Move. We implement the smoothing spin, which is a much requested feature, and visibly improve the sharpness and images in the PS4 Pro, another highly requested feature.
Future patches will also continue to resolve all errors that will appear and improve what we can. We also think that we would like to improve our currently available environments with more and new ways to interact with them, and even expand some scenes to make them more fresh and bigger.
Speaking of DLC, we have plans for completely new and additional environments, and music packages with known composers.
Do you ever see yourself launching the game on platforms that are not virtual reality, or do you feel that the game could not have the same effect otherwise?
I really feel that this game is born and is destined to be played in virtual reality from the beginning. I am sure that if we ever decided to launch it on non-virtual reality platforms, it should have many changes, but this is not planned at all for now. We are 100% focused on the virtual reality experience.
"Athe moment Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams It has better performance in PS4 Pro, resulting in more sensitive tracking and slightly better visuals."
You feel there is potential for experiences like Labyrinth mind To occupy a larger space in the virtual reality market?
We definitely look forward to it! Everyone should check it out, because even people who don't think they need it can find it really peaceful, and they may want to return to it when they need to relax. Or maybe they want to show it to their friends, to show perhaps some darker and adrenaline-laden atmospheres.
Virtual reality is a means of growth, but with great potential. What kind of experiences do you think can help you push more? Has there been any virtual reality game so far that has stood out especially for you?
Obviously I think I like games and experiences. Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams It can definitely help. There is a large part of the players that are left alone in terms of having quiet / relaxing virtual reality games, because they are often too simple and sometimes they don't even give you the opportunity to move around and they are basically 3D slide shows , which is not our case at all. But that said, I think some high quality multiplayer games could also help a lot. The hardware is not there yet, but to be honest, what I most expect is a true VR MMORPG. That will surely thrill very few people!
Are you harnessing the additional power of the PS4 Pro to offer better images or performance?
Yes for the moment Mind Labyrinth VR Dreams It has better performance in PS4 Pro, resulting in more sensitive tracking and slightly better visuals. However, we are working to extend the limits of PS4 Pro in the next patches and, hopefully, we will greatly improve the image in PS4 Pro.
The game is not coming to the Xbox One due to obvious reasons, but since the Xbox One X is a fairly powerful console, do you think Microsoft is not working on its own headphones like the PSVR?
I think Microsoft is missing an opportunity here, yes, I think so. I still don't think it's huge, because the virtual reality market isn't very big anymore, but PSVR has sold 3 million and more headphones, which isn't really that bad. I guess Microsoft is waiting to have an even more polished headset, maybe something wireless or with fewer cables or even waiting in the next console. Obviously I prefer the Sony approach.
"I think Microsoft is missing an opportunity here, yes, I think so. I still don't think it's huge, because the virtual reality market isn't very big anymore, but PSVR has sold 3 million and more headphones, which isn't really that bad. I guess Microsoft is waiting to have an even more polished headset, maybe something wireless or with fewer cables or even waiting in the next console. Obviously I prefer the Sony approach."
The next generation will come sooner or later. From a development perspective, what is your biggest expectation for PS5 and Xbox Scarlett?
I hope they are powerful enough to make sure they handle higher resolution VR headphones and, most importantly, I hope they release a VR package with much better VR inputs. It will be really great to have tickets made specifically for VR.
Do you think VR is one of the defining characteristics of next-generation consoles?
For Sony? Probably yes, they are seeing a growing and potential market. For Microsoft, it's hard to say, because they seem to be ignoring virtual reality a bit, but I hope it's wrong and it surprises us all.