Imperia Online Ltd. is one of the biggest game production companies in Southeastern Europe with 20 released games. The studio has over 40 million users worldwide and a team of 185 professionals. The company originally focused primarily on browser-based games with main title being Imperia Online – a MMORTS, but later started developing mobile games as well. Their R&D department has recently decided they should tackle a new project in an area they’ve never explored before – VR games.
Thus, a humble team of 2 developers, a 3D artist, a game designer and a content writer was formed and they came up with a cool idea – what if you are an elite operative, tasked with resolving all kinds of crises? Each level of the game, which was made with Unreal Engine 4 for Oculus Rift/HTC Vive, presents the player with a situation, involving a certain number of bad guys, hostages… and a lot of breakable or explosive elements. The player-controlled character, being an elite operative, must tackle the situation with the limited amount of bullets in his weapon. The game’s working title is Sigma 6. Needless to say – everyone liked the idea and the project was set in motion.
VR Trend Saved the Idea
It all started during one of our numerous brainstorming meetings. You know how these meetings go – we have about a million ideas to share and management discards 999,999 of them. The VR project one was the sole survivor. It made sense as VR gaming is on the rise.
We were so excited about the idea that at first planned something of a massive scope. We were contemplating the creation of an ambitious VR game, which would stand tall compared to the current market offerings. But then reality hit us hard. Realizing we are completely new to this branch of the industry, we had to get back to the drawing board and scrap a ton of initially planned features.
Like the Big Boys
Keeping track on how leading studios create their VR games – using motion capture, actors, professional voiceover, postproduction, etc., we thought we could apply the same approach to our project as well. Eventually, the project’s scope became absurdly huge, so we decided to take it easy on the dozens of art assets we wanted to create. Cutting back on art helped us speed up the development. After all – the project was more of an R&D experiment. But we had forgotten that fact.
When You Have The Right People
The entire team was pushing hard to keep the project on track with scope and schedule. The game and level design was handled by one designer who was creating the basic layout of the levels and gameplay scenarios. Our developers were constantly stepping up their game while bringing all of the team’s ideas to life in the game engine. The majority of the art assets were also created by a single 3D designer. The content writer was tasked with writing the basic game script and also to document the entire development process for the generations to come.
Dos and Don’ts
The most important lesson we’ve learned during the development process is that you should always try to keep things under control, within limits, and set achievable goals, because, well… situations can quickly spiral out of order and turn into a huge mess. Design-wise? The more realistic in terms of scale to real life your level design is – the more immersed players will feel in your game. This is one of the most challenging design aspects.
After the initial release, planned to be this autumn, we will proceed based on the community’s reception and feedback. If there is a demand for more levels or additional content – we can move on to making more and releasing it as DLC, or we can start working on the next project in that universe.
The team is planning to officially launch Sigma 6 in Q3 of 2017 on PC. You can read updates about the development process in their blog.