“It was love at first sight,” Hunski says, describing the first time he tried on a VR headset. “I knew I wanted to make a VR game right there and then. Of course, the rest of the team needed convincing and that wasn’t a small task. The technology was new, the install base almost non-existent and it was obvious right from the start that we won’t be making any money from VR games anytime soon.”
Luckily for Hunski (and more importantly, for an ever-growing legion of VR enthusiasts) it never was about money at Croteam. It was about creating awesome games, having fun in the process and doing what we love. So the decision was made and Croteam VR was formed. A small studio inside a studio, staffed with VR aficionados and led by Hunski, went about sending Sam on a planet-hopping, gun-totting adventure that became SSVR: The Last Hope.
“I can’t wait for people to try the finished game next week! It was our first Early Access title and we’re so proud of our small baby duckling turning into a beautiful, giant, bloody, armed-to-the-teeth swan with flaming eyes!” Hunski says, “And our community had no small part in this, it was truly amazing having this kind of positive energy and feedback to help us push on.”
With great support from the community
With the epic finale scheduled to release next week, September 20th, SSVR: The Last Hope will get three new levels and three new gameplay modes – Arena, Endless Wave and Daily Challenge – as well as the introduction of leaderboards. During Early Access, Sam’s initial set of deadly toys was expanded to include swords and bows with piercing and exploding arrows. Now lists 16 weapons and a shield, for good measure. Some of those were implemented as a direct response to community wishes or feedback.
“I’m never doing Early Access again!” Davor says, laughing “We never planned for co-op but we said we’d listen and we did. Just that one feature added two months of extra work and messed up our initial schedule for already planned updates. In the end, we’re glad we did it and the final update will bring an overhauled matchmaking system and support for new characters in co-op. But we learned the hard way how hard it is to try to please everybody.”
The Last Hope took only 11 months to finish and VR landscape has changed dramatically in the meantime. The game was envisioned as a love letter to the arcades of old, a shoot-em-up experience with a room-scale support for dodging the incoming fire and enemies that become necessary at higher difficulty levels. Easy to pick up for almost anybody and instantly enjoy the VR experience, but a challenge to truly master, especially after the introduction of the new “Serious” difficulty level.
Leveraging the power of Croteam’s Serious Engine, The Last Hope is instantly recognizable as a Serious Sam game even before Sam delivers one of his trademark one-liners: endless hordes enemies, all coming you at the same time while looking deadly and gorgeous at the same time – and staying above 90 FPS on a solid hardware.
“You won’t get that kind of experience anywhere else,” says Davor. “A wave shooter? Sure, you can say that, and we’re aware of current sentiment in the VR community. But it just so happens it’s the best one out there, and one of the most amazing VR experiences today – if I do say so myself!”
Stay tuned for Part 2 in which Davor will discuss the rest of the changes coming as part of the final version, as well as some of the challenges he and his team faced over the last 11 months.