Mar 26, 2021
Indie House, one of the world’s largest indie game sections, closed its curtains a few weeks ago. Despite the global pandemic that prevented many teams from travelling to Taiwan in person, the organizer held an online ceremony honoring the recipients of the 2021 Indie Game Award. The winner of this year's Best VR Game Award is ‘The Lost Foxfire’. The developer, Keio-NUS CUTE Center, a joint research center comprising of researchers from Keio University of Japan and the National University of Singapore, discussed their thoughts on game development and shared their acceptance speech in this exclusive interview with Taipei Game Show.
Developing games in a Research Lab
‘The Lost Foxfire’ is a VR game developed in a lab. Keio-NUS CUTE Center said in the interview that they wanted to push the limit of conventional VR games, so they added more sensory experience on top of the usual sound and visual senses and created the first VR game that offers smell and temperature sensory information. The success of ‘The Lost Foxfire’ not only means the team has successfully opened up a new horizon for VR games, but also proves that, with determination, a good game can be created even in a research lab.
During the development, Keio-NUS CUTE Center decided to utilize the experience of temperature and smell on top of the sense of vision and hearing, providing a greater and deeper immersive game enjoyment for gamers. Despite the joy on the game’s success, the team in fact was facing a lot of difficulties throughout the development process. For example, the sense of heat could vary from person to person, so gamers may have different reactions toward the same temperature. Due to such individual differences, the team had to constantly modify various parameters to ensure gamers can enjoy the same experience throughout the gameplay.
The sense of smell is another example. Smell cues can help the gamers to identify which Foxfire is genuine before they launch an attack. However, the lingering smell could affect the player's subsequent game progress. After repeating attempts and adjustments, the team finally settled on the current mode, where the smell emerges only when a real Foxfire is hit. From game development to the design of sensors and the adjustments of various parameters in tests, ‘The Lost Foxfire’ is not just a game that breaks through the design of conventional VR games, but also an outcome of cutting-edge technology from a lab.
Don't Try to Replicate the Success of Others
When asked about suggestions for other game developers, Keio-NUS CUTE Center stressed that you should never think about replicating the successful experience of others by cloning hit games. Because in this way, the best you can achieve is still a game that lands on the second place. You should always learn from other people’s experience and see if there’s anything you can do better. And lastly, if possible, try to blend in your own style to the game so that you can make the game as a mark of yourself that you left on the world.
Meanwhile, during the development, you are more likely to face with all sorts of failures and frustrations, but you should not be defeated and give up. Instead, try to encourage yourself and the members of your team to go forward together. In particular for a team like the Keio-NUS CUTE Center, which comprises programmers, design artists and hardware engineers, good communication and encouragement are extremely important.
Next Step after the Award and Plans for the Future
The Keio-NUS CUTE Center said that winning this award is a great honor for them. It also sends a message to the world that game development is not restricted to traditional game companies. Winning this award will encourage them to continue on the path of game development, and they also hope their story will attract more companies and developers to join the world of game development.
As for their next step, Keio-NUS CUTE Center said that they will first focus on the adjustment of sensors for ‘The Lost Foxfire’, making it lighter and easier to wear through a detachable design for gamers of different sizes. They are also studying the possibility of utilizing other somatosensory detectors in VR games. They plan to extend the gaming experience of ‘The Lost Foxfire’ to other applications for training and educational purposes, allowing more industries to benefit from the technology.