inXile Interview: Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds Will Have Bots, Solo Mode and Big Monsters
Own a PC VR headset like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Valve Index? If you do then you may want to sign up to inXile Entertainment’s closed beta for Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds which starts next week. In the meantime, VRFocus managed to get a few extra details about the upcoming multiplayer shooter from the studio.
In an email Q&A Dax Berg, Creative Producer / Project Lead at inXile Entertainment very kindly answered a few questions about the first-person shooter, why a studio known for role-playing games (RPG) took this route and revealing a few unknown facts.
Having previously created The Mage’s Tale as well as the Wasteland and The Bard’s Tale franchises Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds is certainly a different genre to tackle, with Berg explaining: “We were watching and enjoying a lot of the emergent gameplay clips coming out of survival games, and so we started working on one of our own. As we went we knew we had really strong gunplay and core PvP elements, and so we decided to lean into that. We also weren’t convinced that a majority of players would be comfortable playing survival in VR because they’re games you play for long stretches of time. We wanted to establish a base game session of no more than 15-minute chunks then allow players to decide if they want to extend that time.”
Just like the gameplay, this genre is extremely competitive with titles like Echo VR already well established whilst others such as Solaris Offworld Combat are soon to arrive. VRFocus was keen to learn what makes Frostpoint VR standout.
“If you look at server-authoritative multiplayer FPS games in the VR space, they’re all military sims and not extremely focused on higher-end visuals,” he notes. “While we’re going to appeal to that audience (we have a large amount of military-style weapons), we also wanted to place the game in an extremely unique environment setting with characters, weapons, and tools that are unlike anything else out there.”
Comfortable movement is crucial is this type of videogame, with Berg saying: “Early on we had Oculus at our studio to look at the game and they told us when it came to movement, locomotion comfort settings, and HUD elements “The more options you give the player, the better”. Being a multiplayer game though, teleport movement doesn’t work [for] us so that is limiting for some amount of VR players. We designed the HUD (and player characters) around the idea of being in what we call the “Astrosuit”. We have this suit HUD there for specifically for the locomotion comfort factor. For players that don’t need it, we give you the option to turn that off. Another of my favourite settings that really helped me was snap turn. I personally like to set my turn (the dominate hand stick) to snap 15 degrees per flick. It has alleviated all nausea for me, for others it makes it worse. We have found Oculus’ advice to be very beneficial though as there are plenty of settings to choose from.”
“We are currently working on a “Solo” mode which will allow a player to play all of the various game modes using just bots,” he reveals. The goal here is to allow the player to get comfortable with their movement and firing settings before having to face off against other players. The learning curve may be complicated for people who haven’t played a lot of VR games at first, but we felt a fast-paced, realistic shooter where you are ejecting mags, loading clips and racking weapons is fun and something people will enjoy learning and improving and competing in.”
VRFocus also wanted to know about the matchmaking process as getting a full roster of 20 players might initially be difficult, to which Berg responded: “Our maps are made for 10v10 combat so if there are less than 20 players currently, we will fill it with bots to hit that number. In addition, you will see dozens of PVE creatures (called “The Function”) that always make sessions frantic. Matchmaking currently has a setting based on the game mode and a queue timer.
“We playtested having players join in-progress matches and ones where we don’t backfill. We can currently use either method and it’s the perfect kind of feedback we are looking for in our Closed and Open Betas.”
One of the striking images released so far is the one below showcasing a massive creature and it’s not just there for dramatic effect. “Ahhh.. that is “The Behemoth”,” he writes. “We have a couple of large monsters that we have built levels around as interactive environments. They’re pretty taxing on framerates so we’re still optimizing. If they don’t make it into any maps for launch they’ll be coming pretty shortly thereafter.”
Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds is most certainly geared towards PC VR headsets but the question had to be asked regarding PlayStation VR and Oculus Quest support. “Well, I am a huge Quest fan and have had a dev HMD since it was called ‘Project Santa Cruz’. It is not officially supported but I have personally played using the Quest and an Oculus Link cable and it plays quite well. As far as other platforms that would not run natively on a PC, those are longer-term porting questions and don’t have anything to share on that. We’re really focused on our PC launch.”
Next week’s closed beta concludes in 4th September, with inXile Entertainment launching Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds by the end of the year. For further updates, keep reading VRFocus.