Private Eye made its debut at Eurogamer’s Rezzed last weekend and I’m thrilled to report that we received a fantastic reception. It was quite an anxious moment for us as this was the first time that the game was made playable to the wider public. How would people cope with the unorthodox control scheme? Would players have enough direction/guidance to progress? Are the puzzles too tough? These were all questions that we were anxious could end up derailing the experience. We fired up the demo with baited breath.
The game has been developed quite covertly so most players were unaware of Private Eye even as a title but that didn’t seem to put gamers off. The draw of the Oculus was powerful and a queue began to form almost immediately. We set about plugging the first punters in and eagerly observed their behaviour in the Private Eye dimension.
Initial reactions were reassuring. There were “Wows”, “OMGs” and “This is so weird!”, especially when people were encouraged to look 360 degrees, but I think this reaction was due primarily to the maiden Oculus experience itself. However, seeing as the environment was just a standard apartment office, it gave me the impression that the immersiveness and presence in the world was strong. A good start.
From observation, the control scheme seemed to have a kind of ”got it” moment. For some it came instantaneously, for others it took a little longer. However, everyone “got it” before long and it turned out to be one of the features people most liked with a common remark of it feeling ‘intuitive”. Before the show I was concerned this was something gamer’s might not get on board with, so was unashamedly thrilled that everyone was so responsive and encouraging for this new type of control scheme.
Although the majority of players didn’t get to play through the whole demo, on the whole everyone was really positive on what they did get to play. Some thought the experience was “fantastic”, “amazing” and others “weird” – but the parts of the game that got a consistent thumbs up was the noir style and the cinematic cut-scene like sequence. It was encouraging to see that the more we talked through the ideas that will drive the full game the more people got excited for the game. There was an appreciation of the design decisions we made to make this experience work for VR – the wheelchair and limited movement, assuming the life of a character that knows nothing of themselves, exploring by looking rather than transversing (although binocular mechanic wasn’t on show) and having your character always visible and reacting.
So what followed was 3 days of fun, superb feedback (good and bad), really encouraging words and many well wishes on the upcoming Kickstarter. A huge, huge thank you to all that came and enjoyed the experience, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with you all – loads of great ideas, so good in fact that I might have to steal a couple and put straight into the game! To see so many people enjoying Private Eye puts all the sweat, tears and sleepless nights into perspective, its a pleasure to develop this title and the reward is unparalleled. Thank you.
Private Eye has it’s first bit of concept art which demonstrates what the primary view out of the player’s apartment may look like. The composition was carefully grafted to contain a large array of apartments, sitting at different depths while maintaining a sense of intimacy and mystery. We think we have just about got the balance right but are definitely open for interpretations, suggestions and ideas on how to improve. This is potentially going to be the core area of the game so we want to get it just right!
From summer 2013, we had a strong vision of the game we want Private Eye to be; an intensely involving story, played out with believable characters, which gave a real sense the player was starring in a movie – a movie where their actions affect how the plot unravels, with twists that actually make sense to the story. We wanted to provide a thrilling, suspenseful and unexpected experience like nothing else on the Oculus Rift, or any other platform. This is the game I want to make and the game I want you to be playing come release. However, with this vision comes a cost, literally.
This has now become a different beast altogether to the little Oculus Jam demo I created in 3 weeks. This is now a project requiring people specialising in different facets of game development, hundreds of assets, professional voice actors, an original soundtrack, its own toolset and thousands of lines of code to bring it all together. This game is going to require funding to help it see the illuminating light of the Oculus Rift.
This is the part where I ask you to help support this project! We believe in this game so strongly that we want Kickstarter to help share Private Eye with those that are interested in the Oculus Rift and provide a compelling case for you to get involved. We felt it just wasn’t fair to simply slap up the Jam demo, to have these grand plans to morph that into an epic adventure and then sit back and hope for the best. We want to give you more, showing you the quality we are striving for by recruiting the talent we now have on board.
When the Kickstarter does go live, it will dual launch with the first segment of the game. We hope that this, in conjunction with our project page, will create belief in Private Eye, turning that belief into support for this project. We hope you will continue to look out for us and continue to have us in your interests come launch date.
Private Eye has joined forces with the great musical talent that is Joff Winks who will be composing an original score for the game. Joff will capture the atmosphere and mood of Private Eye, drawing on noir elements in a piano and string lead soundtrack. The composition has drawn many of its influences from the original soundtracks of psychological thiller films, reflecting the game’s cinematic style and helping to build tension and add to the sense of atmosphere. However, unlike a film, our soundtrack will be constructed in such a way that layers can dynamically interchange and adjust the mood inline with game progression. This should result in a wholly cinematic soundtrack tailored to your own personal Private Eye experience.
Below is a snippet of what you can expect. Would love to hear what you think?
Private Eye is happy to report that the team has once again doubled in size. We welcome some great talent to the team with Boris Blosse (character artist), Kimman Cheng (environmental) and Edgar Soiko (hard surface) who are straight into the fold and already underway making Private Eye look bold and beautiful.
For Private Eye to immerse you in it’s story we felt the world had to be believable. This is not just about beautiful looking assets but the attention to detail, the brands and style of each era, emphatic characters and the atmospherics of the environment you enter. That is why we felt we needed this four man strong team, each bringing with them their focused skill set and commitment to the style.
Boris Blosse – Character specialist
Kimman Cheng – Environmental specialist
Edgar Soiko – Hard surface specialist
A busy day ends a busy week for Private Eye. First off, Private Eye enjoyed a fantastic reception from the guys at the Bossa Studios meetup. Big thanks to those guys for hosting an awesome event, lots of great people and great ideas, can’t wait for the next. Volunteers jumped into the Jam demo for a Private Eye quickie followed by a Q&A about what they liked or thought needed improvement. The general impression we were left with was praise for Private Eye’s core mechanics, especially the “locked-down” predicament of the player as it was felt to really add to the sense of immersion. There was lots of praise over the binocular control mechanism too.
This response was especially encouraging as they are two fundamental mechanisms making their way into the full game. I followed this with a short presentation on some of the design decisions made and the difficulties I ran into during the short 3 weeks of development. The presentation closed with the announcement of the full-game version of Private Eye and what improvements will be made over the Jam demo.