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.