Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope, Image Courtesy of Croteam

PART II - Serious Sam VR

Seriously Real

Last modification: 30 Aug, 2017
7 mins

With Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope just released, we had some burning questions to ask the developers. Admir and Damjan from Croteam discuss the challenges of bringing Serious Sam to virtual reality and what we can expect with their Early Access release.

What made you decide to bring Serious Sam to VR?

We got a couple of dev kits for Oculus and HTC Vive. We decided to test these units with The Talos Principle. We implemented support for both the Oculus and HTC. We found it to be a really nice addition. Suddenly, you were inside this virtual world and it felt alive!

We went on to implement VR support in Serious Sam and then we encountered what is a classic problem with VR: movement. We wanted to give the best possible experience in VR and we didn’t want players to experience any nausea or headaches. We agreed that if we were going to make a VR game, the movement should either be teleporting or room scale where you only have a meter on the left/right depending on your room. We found out that this kind of movement doesn’t cause any problems or discomfort for the players. It was a simpler solution to make a standing shooter. Of course, we brought it to the next level.

We also played a lot of the VR games that are available on Steam, and we weren’t satisfied with them. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to make a proper VR game, to show the world how it’s done.

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope, Image Courtesy of Croteam

What other things did you have to tweak from the traditional series in order to incorporate Serious Sam into VR?

It’s constant frame rate so we had to optimize art and in some cases. We had to make it even more detailed just because of the nature of VR itself. In the VR world, everything needs to look like it’s part of that world. We had to move the ammo count off-screen from the HUD to the weapons itself. Now the weapons have a digital counter which shows the amount of ammo.

When designing for VR, you have to think non-traditionally. We have a shop system. It’s pretty simple to do a shop in a game for a monitor. For the VR experience, we had to make a shop where you aim at certain items and you need to shoot to buy the item. This is still not perfect; it’s still a work in progress. With every new day we come across new things that we’d like to try. We’re trying them out, that’s why we are releasing on Early Access. We are not saying this is a finished game. We will continue its development stage after its release. So we’ll probably tweak even more things.

What was the biggest challenge in developing for VR?

Stable frame rate. All our games should have smooth movement. As soon as movement becomes jerky, it breaks the immersion and you lose all the benefits of VR.

Also, even after having years and years of experience, we are in uncharted seas at the moment because there is no large community that can say I didn’t like this or say this is not good. We need to tread the waters and see what people want to experience in this new media. It’s challenging but it’s fun. That’s the biggest challenge: you want to use VR as much as possible but you have some painful limitations and gameplay issues. It’s been challenging to make a game actually be fun in VR.

What would you say were the easiest things to implement?

Put the enemies, give yourself two guns. That was easy but our projects are always epic, we always want to be the best. That’s our driving force. We need to be satisfied with every small detail in a short span of time. It’s a big challenge for us. The railing of the extra hardware and we promised to release the game early. There are a lot of challenges, but it’s worth it.

Image Courtesy of Croteam

Tell me about the weapons. How did you change them for the VR version?

Serious Sam has traditional weapon layouts from the old FPS in the 90’s. What we added here are laser guns. We had to tweak the fire power. We also added the skill tree. Now you will be able to upgrade your gear. I think this combination and new weapons and perk upgrade will make Serious Sam VR distinctive. It’ll make it quite distinct from other first person shooters. Another thing we added is duel wielding. This is something we had in Serious Sam 2. Now you can wield two enormous guns which really feels satisfactory when you see it on the screen. It’s just bloodshed and mayhem. This is what we like to do: pure, crazy, action mayhem.

What about the art assets? Was it difficult to translate them into the VR world?

We created a lot of new stuff. We have some new environments, new monsters, and new weapons, that are going to be out on launch. We have new weapons in launch, we are already having new weapons, etc. Ready for updates.

We did tweak some art, weapons, monsters, but mostly we tweaked their behavior. In the game you are running 10 meters per second and you don’t see much detail in our game. Now with VR, you’re mostly stationary. Users want the best immersion so we have to make more details and make images more crisp. It was a lot of details to tweak, especially in animation.

I’m sure many fans are dying to see how the headless Kamikaze shows up in VR. Will he sound the same?

Yeah, you’ll be dying a lot. We’re keeping the sound effects forever. It’s set in stone; we cannot just change that.

What are you guys most excited about in the world of VR?

I’m looking forward to these new controllers. Now we have these headsets and it’s beautiful to look around in 360 degrees. But I want gun-shaped controllers, I want a katana and stuff like that just to immerse even more. This might break a vase or two in my home but I think it’s going to be fun. We actually built a minigun for HTC Vive which you can use to play the game. It’s one-meter-long and weighs 10 lbs. It’s a crazy thing. We built 3. We had planned to demo the game using miniguns, it’s so much fun!

How did you guys make these miniguns?

From various parts like PVC pipes, barrels for plumbing, and we put the cordless drill at the edge. Our friend, who designs props for films, built 3 of those and they really look life-like. We gave them art and stickers from the game. So it’s basically a copy of the weapons from the game. The only thing it can’t do is shoot bullets.

Image Courtesy of Croteam

Will there be a Serious Sam 4 after Serious Sam VR?

Serious Sam VR is just a side project. People are concerned about Serious Sam 4. The game is deep into work. Everything is going towards making Serious Sam 4 look really awesome like the tech, engine, photogrammetry and motion capture. Serious Sam VR is much as to develop as it is to play but it’s really a side project. Our main focus is firmly on Serious Sam 4. It’s great because we’re finally not in a rush. We can afford to take our time, and make the best possible Serious Sam game ever! This one should break all records. We can’t wait to show it to the players.

Find out the secret to Croteam’s fifteen years of success here or check out their Instagram Takeover. Croteam used 3ds Max, Maya, MotionBuilder, and the Serious Engine.

Serious Sam VR gives you double the gun, double the fun on Steam Early Access.

  • 3ds Max
  • Maya
  • MotionBuilder
  • VR
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