Shuhei Yoshida, head of PlayStation Indies at Sony Interactive Entertainment, introduced the world to PlayStation VR, saying that it will be “the next innovation from PlayStation [shape] future of sports. “And boy was he right.
For the past five years, PlayStation VR has provided the industry, especially VR developers like us, with an incredible opportunity to create worlds and games that provide entertainment and emotional connection beyond today’s more traditional game technologies. VR is the only platform that truly immerses players in another world, allowing them to be part of a narrative experience. You are part of the story. Characters see, interact with and react to them You. Not only do you have a presence in the beautifully presented world, but you can also interact with the world in a physical way that feels intuitive and true. For example, in Moss, whether it’s pulling a giant, heavy device to solve a puzzle, or moving hanging vines back and forth, players convince themselves that they are in a real world. are conversing. That is, until they take off their headset.
But it’s not just the physical contact that makes VR special, it’s also the emotional connections you make with virtual characters. While developing Moss for PlayStation VR, we learned that VR gives players the ability to form deeper relationships with characters over time through shared experiences. And in doing so, players believe that this connection is real—because, well, it’s kind of… These connections and the emotions they elicit—excitement, joy and even heartbreak—are mind-opening for players who didn’t know they could feel so strongly within the digital experience.
Since releasing Mos on PlayStation VR in 2018, we’ve continued to experiment, learn, and advance our understanding of VR. In fact, Tyler Walters, lead technical artist, and Richard Licko, animation director, provide a quick look at the work we’re doing to enhance both the thrill of physical contact and the joy of emotional engagement. In Moss: Book II.
Tyler Walters: Moss proved that dynamic interactive visuals in VR are very enjoyable and rewarding. With additional team members on Moss: Book II, we had the opportunity to create many more visual effects systems and shaders that can only be fully experienced within VR. It ranges from snowflakes falling in the mountains to candle flames that move around as the player’s hands create air. Each of these systems creates a different mood and sensation, so much so that some of us feel chills even when playing in the game’s icy levels.
We’ve also added a new player capability that allows players to develop traversable foliage for Quill in-game. This includes a bell bridge that enables Quill to access different sections of the game. Relative to the Moss device interaction, we wanted it to feel more fluid and expressive. To bring it to life, once the player initiates a bridge to grow, the moss vines spiral to form a walkable surface, which then blooms with tiny white flowers on top. No detail is too small in the world of moss.
Speaking of details, Moss’s library and book were essential narrative tools that served as the glue for story structure. We’ve taken this formula and improved it for Moss: Book II. Now, players will find meticulously hand-painted artwork, audio and visual effects that move and develop as the story progresses. Some pages also contain dynamic content that interacts with the player as he moves along.
Richard Licko: At Moss, we took the time and effort to animate some book pages. They were short snippets meant to highlight key moments where Page’s characters would animate like in a movie. While this approach was a strong, visually striking storytelling tool that helped keep us on the same page and storytelling, we noticed that players often didn’t react to seeing them. In fact, we were unable to support animated pages in the book when porting Moss to another platform, and nobody noticed. Couple that with how much people love Quill and his reactions to the in-game moments, and it became clear that we needed to enhance the book experience like Tyler said, as well as transfer additional resources to the game. What makes Quill’s role in
When playing Moss, players often found Quill acting autonomously to tell her how she was feeling or what she was thinking. For Book II, we decided to expand on this, giving it stronger moments of in-game story that weave in and out of gameplay seamlessly. We still have a lot of story to be told in the book, but more intimate emotional spikes will organically be at play now when you stand by Quill’s side. In Book II, there will be a wide range of emotional displays for you to experience at Quill.
This extra border required us to replace a few things with the moss. We have doubled the size of the animation team from one to two animators. We have reconstructed Quill’s face so that he is capable of a wider range of expressions. And our engineering team built new systems to support all the different ways we needed to use these organic in-game performances. We are confident that all this will help deepen the players association with Quill in Book II.
Yet hearing about these changes isn’t like experiencing in VR, and we just can’t wait for players to re-enter the world of Moss and see it all in Book II. We are excited and eager to pursue these enhancements and find new ways for players to experience physical contact, emotional response and object persistence. We are thrilled to continue that work as we envision what is possible for the future.