Over the next several weeks, we’re spotlighting the top 20 3D Jam experiences chosen by the jury and community votes. These spotlights will focus on game design, interaction design, and the big ideas driving our community forward.
Inspired by games like Myst and the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Wikkit Gate’s 19th-place entry Deify takes you on a journey through the dark corners of the Cosmos. It’s now available free for the Oculus Rift on the Leap Motion App Store.
For those who aren’t familiar with the work of H.P. Lovecraft, can you describe his style and aesthetics?
H.P. Lovecraft was one of the most influential writers of horror fiction literature. He is mostly acknowledged for his fictional universe, widely known as the Cthulhu Mythos. His chaotic world is ruled by dark deities. Some find pleasure in tormenting mankind, while others are mindless but powerful beings that exist somewhere in the universe. There are also ancient, alien races that inhabited the earth before man.
The Cthulhu Mythos has been expanded a lot after Lovecraft’s death by other writers, and a common theme in his work is the insignificance of mankind before the obscure “reality” of the universe and the inability of our brains to comprehend it. Those unfortunate enough to realize the truth are bound to lose their sanity.
What story or scene from Lovecraft’s work had the biggest creative influence on Deify?
The setting of Deify, is mostly inspired by Lovecraft’s dream cycle stories, the most notable of which is The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. The game is set somewhere in the dreamlands, although we didn’t want to replicate actual places that are referenced in the dream cycle, so we made up our own. The storyline is also heavily influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos book of Donald Tyson, Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred.
Can you describe your experience with Myst? What inspirations did you draw in creating Deify?
We love adventure games of all types. We consider Myst to be one of the most important titles, not only for the adventure genre, but for the whole history of video games. It was a realization of what the advances of technology could do. Back then, it was CD-ROM drives that enabled this advance. Now motion sensors and virtual reality open up new horizons to game development, and thus we saw it fitting to begin this journey with a Myst-like game. We also found through prototyping that Deify‘s Myst-inspired gameplay is very handy when it comes to the use of such technologies.
Finally, we didn’t want the game to serve everything ready for the player through instructions and tutorials, as almost all modern games do, but to let the player find out everything by himself like Myst did. We wanted even the controls to be part of the exploration and the puzzle, although they involve a new technology as an input method. To do that, the controls should be logical so that the player can figure them out through reasonable thinking.
Deify starts with a deep narrative and turns into a game of exploration. What’s the importance of this backstory to the gameplay experience?
The full version of Deify (that we are currently working on), will be a game based on storytelling, so the narrative will be the most important aspect of the whole experience.
The 3D Jam version of Deify was more of an experiment with new technologies, and based on what’s currently going on throughout the development process, it’s pretty far from what the final product will be. The game mechanics will be a more mature approach of the Jam version’s mechanics, since we now have a more solid idea of what we want the game to become.
The final storyline will also be a lot deeper than the Jam version, which only featured some very few hints of what’s going on. Its a weird tale that will evolve through the exploration of Deify‘s chaotic dream-world. We play around with concepts such as identity, consciousness, human values, power, space/time, and more.
What role does the music in Deify play in setting the mood?
One of the most important aspects that we want to achieve in Deify is immersion. The music plays a huge part in setting the mood for the player throughout the experience. We wanted the music to give the impression of large open spaces and a mysterious feeling of the unknown.
What plans do you have in expanding this universe further?
Deify‘s general storyline is extending far beyond the scope of a single game and could easily become a long narrative. We are currently developing what we consider to be the prologue of this, and we plan to continue according to the reception that the game will have when released. For the time being, we’re focused on the first one, although we have several connections and general concepts for the next.
Do you have any UX design tips for other developers who want to build open-world experiences with Leap Motion?
Working with the Leap Motion Controller is a very enjoyable experience – it’s like developing for a platform that will be part of the Star Trek’s Enterprise spaceship. The best practices documentation found on the developer portal is a great guide for understanding the basics of a hand-motion-controlled application.
I think the most important UX tip is that the player should be making natural moves that make sense for each interaction. It’s also important that the player is able to rest his hands on his elbows while playing, especially for open-world experiences where the gameplay duration is more than a few minutes.
Finally, I found that interaction through targeting is a very comfortable and responsive way to trigger events. “Τhe simpler the better” is a good way to be sure that you won’t upset or tire your players.
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