A virtual reality game that puts players on a crumbling alien world in search of a lost sibling has been named VR game of the year.
Created by Qualicum Beach’s Cloudhead Games, The Gallery Ep. 2, Heart of the Emberstone is the second game in The Gallery series, and was released last October.
While both Ep. 1 and 2 piqued VR gamers’ and the industry’s interest, the VR Awards in the UK surprised Cloudhead CEO and co-founder Denny Unger with a major win on Oct. 16.
“We were very surprised by the win. We were up against some very heavy competition from triple-A studios,” he said.
Those included massively popular games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim — traditional games that later got a virtual reality version. There were also popular VR-first games as well. “We we were a bit shocked to take VR game of the year with such impactful titles that we were up against.”
Unger said Heart of the Emberstone was different from its competitors because, unlike Fallout 4 and Skyrim, their game was built from the ground-up for VR, looking to develop a game that takes advantage of the new platform by building an immersive world that people can literally walk around in, and developing new gameplay mechanics specific to VR.
Cloudhead’s game was also the second in a series, allowing them to iterate on an already much-loved experience, ultimately creating an Ep. 2 that improves upon the detail of the virtual world, is a longer game, and takes people from an Earthly setting in the first game, to an even more impressive and intriguing alien planet in the second.
“A big internal goal for us is to anchor the user in the story, and make them feel like they’ve been injected into a completely new reality and become invested in that world, so we do that through storytelling, but we also do that through really great interaction design,” said Unger. “I think it’s those combining forces that made it stand out.”
But Cloudhead Games has even more radical plans for VR in store.
In a tweet acknowledging their VR Awards win, the company said, “…we hope you join us for what we’ve been quietly cooking for the future of #VR.”
Asked what that cryptic note meant, Unger went only a tad further in explaining.
“There’s not a lot I can say out in the open,” he said. “We’ve been working on something for the past few months, and I can’t give a release date, but it’s something really special with an industry giant that we’re working with, and it’s again, showing the world something they probably haven’t seen in VR before.”
In a previous interview with The NEWS, Unger spoke about the future of VR not necessarily being in “games” exactly, but it experiences that could perhaps occupy a space between movies and games. There’s no telling if Cloudhead Games is working on something along those lines, but he said those interested in what they are up to should keep their eye on the game studio next year.
As for the third episode of The Gallery, Unger said they are still planning but have not date yet for a release.