The first ever VR Connects London event last week gave us the opporunity to put the spotlight on the amazing experiences and unique talent coming out of the ever expanding indie VR development scene. As part of the two-day exhibition and conference, the VR Indie Pitch returned after launching at Helsinki's Pocket Gamer Connects last year; this time with the number of pitchers growing from 12 to 15.
All entries were judged by an expert panel, including Dan Da Rocha of Toxic Games, Jon Hibbins and Thiago Craveiro of Psytec Games, Nick Patton of Fire Panda Games, Catherine Allen who has worked on VR projects with the BBC, and our very own Editor, Steve Takle and Operations Manager Dave Bradley.
From literally being able to create and manipulate music, to a zen-like arcade experience inspired by Japanese culture and traditions, and even through to a futuristic arena shooter with PvP online elements, this year’s pitch didn’t disappoint in proving that Virtual Reality is pushing the boundaries of how we play and experience video games, and the judges were left with some very hard decisions.
Let’s take a look at not only the winners, but all 15 of the fresh experiences presented as a part of the VR Indie Pitch at VR Connects London 2017...
Polyphonia definitely deserves the crown as the winner of the second-ever VR Indie Pitch - especially when you consider it's been created by one lone student.
Described as a VR music experience where you literally control the music, Polyphonia draws its inspiration from science and modern art, as it sees players step into a universe where literally everything at their disposable is capable of creating a musical masterpiece.
Imagine every sound, shape, colour, and even movement being the basis for your very own orchestra where you're not only the conductor, but also the person playing the music.
What’s more, with no goals, achievement or points to collect, Polyphonia not only presents itself as a relaxing experience, but also one that's fit for all ages and skill sets. In turn making it a perfect jumping on point for anyone intrigued by what Virtual Reality can offer.
Currently in development for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and even PS VR, with a tentative release of late 2017, not just gamers, but anybody with an interest in VR should keep an eye out for this one as development progresses.
Voting for the top spot was tied, with the final decision going to a deadlock showdown that saw Astrofish Games miss out on the top step of the podium by a single vote.
Arguably the most graphically polished title in the VR Indie Pitch, Ground Runners places you in the cockpit of a hoverbike as you race point-to-point through 10km of a post-apocalyptic London shooting drones with a handgun.
There’s a real feel of a Mad Max style badlands environment, but Editor Steve was most taken with the vehicle physics that enable you to slew your bike to one side while shooting across your body to the other side.
Ground Runners is still early in development and feels like an engine in search of gameplay, but if Astrofish can combine the two then we think it could be huge. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on this one as it progresses.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a Samurai and learning the way of the warrior? Well dream no longer, as Glitchr Studio places you in the sole tutelage of Delios-sensei as you take up residency in an archepelago the sky.
As such, don't expect wave after wave of enemy, but rather a zen like experience where you master the skills of the samurai though a variety of arcade inspired gameplay. This includes mastering bows, Katana blades and even smoke bombs to name but a few.
Players can also freely move throughout the beautiful relaxing environments. All of which offer panoramic views and calming sunsets, all inspired by Japanese history and tradition. One of the developers is a long-term martial artist and you can sense that authenticity in the experience.
Glitchr Studio are currently readying themselves for Sky Sanctuary’s February 15th launch onto Steam early access, with a full launch following soon after.
Fusion Wars places you straight into the cockpit of a futuristic combat tank and transports you directly into a absolutely gorgeous Tron inspired battleground. One where only your quick thinking and lightning fast reflexes will be able to save you.
Well that’s not strictly true actually, as thanks to Fusion Wars’ 4 vs 4 PvP gameplay, you could even find that your teammates are the ones saving you as you work together to take down either the computer, or even another team. A nice innovation is the 'fusion' of the title, that sees players combine their tanks and dividing the driving and shooting roles.
The Big Indie Pitch only currently only awards a top 3. However, if there ever was a game worthy of being given 4th place, it was Fusion Wars. The game itself may have narrowly missed out on the top 3, but the judges nonetheless wanted to give a big shout out to the quality that Fusion Wars brought to the table.
Fusion Wars is currently in development for both Gear VR and Oculus Rift and will launch later this year. Nevertheless, for those wanting to jump in now, there is an early access version available now for Gear VR.
Despite being built with children in mind, that doesn't mean that all ages can't have fun with The Biumbis, as players use their heads to control one of a variety of Biumbi characters as they fly through the air dodging and defeating enemies en-route to the magical seed at the end of the stage.
However, being a fun game with a unique and encapsulating art style isn’t The Biumbis’ only strength; it also has a good message at its core too. This message comes through the game’s story, which helps parents teach their children about the importance of protecting our environments and the wildlife that inhabits it.
3OGS are currently in the final throws of completing development for The Biumbis, and you can expect to see the game launch for Gear VR very soon.
What would you do if you found yourself adrift in space with absolutely no memory of how you got there? Well this is the dilemma Earth Defense Warfarer Program gives to players as you are placed into the shoes of a amnesia-ridden space explorer; one lost within the hidden depths of space.
Despite Refine Reality only being a one man team, that hasn’t stopped the developer from aiming high. Expect the final game to include flying, shooting, and even exploitative gameplay mechanics.
RefineReality is currently hard at work developing Earth Defense Warfarer Program for Gear VR and other mobile VR platforms, and we’ll be sure to let you know when we have more news on a launch window.
The Tower is a room-scale VR archery puzzle game which challenges you with solving puzzles in order to keep climbing up the tower.
The whole experience is further aided thanks to the way in which Mountain Walrus have utilised as much space as possible in order to allow players to physically move within every inch of the tower without the need for teleportation. This even includes being able to physically climb it.
The Tower is currently in development for HTC Vive, and Mountain Walrus are hard at work in order to finish development.
When you think of a First Person Shooter, the first thing that comes to mind for most people are titles such as Halo and Call of Duty. However, in an effort to make the genre accessible to all ages, especially young children, Gameplay Studio VR have created Candy Kingdom.
Candy Kingdom is an FPS where you’ll find yourself blasting all manner of different sugar coated snacks, from lollipops through to gingerbread men, all whilst using your trusty Candy Blaster. This combined with it’s colourful and engaging world, means that Candy Kingdom is definitely a VR experience suitable for all.
Candy Kingdom is available now on Steam for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and OSVR via Steam, and parents looking for suitable VR experiences for their children should definitely check it out.
Doing something new and unique that could only be done in VR really is the name of the game when it comes to developing for Virtual Reality. When a game comes along that does exactly that, you definitely want to take notice.
Honeypot Espionage takes one of the most popular gameplay formats of the modern age in online shooters, and then puts a twist on this by adding a new mechanic. When at a standsttill, only players from your team can see you. However, make even the slightest move, and that part of your body that has moved will become visible to your opponent. Running around with fast reflexes is not the only strategy here, with stealth being of equal importance.
The game is still in the early stages of development. However, if this interesting mechanic is effectively combined with tight FPS gameplay and a comprehensive array of weapons and matchmaking option, then you may be looking at the next big VR shooter.
Built for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, Beloudest are hoping to use VR in order make Bad Day To Fly the most immersive flight simulator yet.
Here players must jump into the cockpit of an advanced quadcopter in oder to fight against the odds and hopefully defend planet earth. However, if you’re not all that good at controlling quadcopter then don't worry too much, as Bad Day To Fly will also offer various difficulty settings, and even automation options so that players of all skills can enjoy the fast paced frantic action.
Bad Day To Fly is still some way off flying off on its own, however those interested in jumping in right now can sign up for the game’s Alpha level test online now.
Cute chickens are overrunning the planet and you’re the only thing that can stop them! In Chick 'n' Charge, players must grab their blaster and take down wave upon wave of the advancing chickens. All before moving onto the next stage and doing it all over again.
Chick 'n' Charge is a classic wave shooter with a mobile bitesize nature. Look out for Chick 'n' Charge on mobile VR platforms later this year.
Created in just three weeks by one man, Unwrapped is an impressive proof of concept. Although little more than an environment to explore at this stage and with no real gameplay mechanics in place, this was still enough to pique our curiosity.
Unwrapped is the story of an estate agent whose world is unravelling around him and it’s down to the player to find out what’s going on. To our eyes, the graphics nod to classic horror games and especially Resident Evil, with DragonfiAR looking more to the psychological thriller genre.
If this is what the dev is capable of in less than a month, we look forward to seeing what he’s capable of over a full development cycle.
Developed exclusively for Google Daydream, Titan Attack on Town is a first person VR experienced that requires you to tactically analyse the situation before taking aim at an enemy's weak point.
What’s more, as the name of the game suggests these aren’t any normal enemies, but rather gruesome giants that are constantly hunting for your position, all while you exploit their weak spot utilising your bow and shield.
It’s currently still early days for Titan Attack on Town, but if you've ever wondered what it feels like to face down a colossal enemy, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for this portable VR experience as development continues.
Here players must take control of Flushy The Fish, as he flies from cannon to cannon across a variety of different coloured jelly worlds, all whilst collecting stars, meeting friends, and challenging the legendary Red Dragon.
Being a puzzler at heart, Flushy Fish VR is built for comfort, and is accessible to all ages and abilities. The world has a charming Nintendo-esque art style and by developing the game for VR, Silvermile have consequently also added another level of challenge and perspective to this popular genre.
Flushy Fish VR is currently available now on the Oculus Store for Gear VR, with more platforms coming soon.
Described by the developer as a tactile VR adventure about playing catch, Project Companion tasks players with navigating the fun cartoon world around them by means of playing catch with their robot buddy.
The core gameplay mechanics may be simple, but the clever use of environmental obstacles and ball powers makes Project Companion real fun. By mixing movement and dexterity with both puzzle and battle gameplay mechanics, Hewson Consultants have created an innovative and intuitive experience that can only be had within VR.
Keep an eye out for this one, as Hewson Consultants move forward with developing a game they hope will merge together the likes of Job Simulator, Portal, and Super Mario 64.
Well there you have it - all 15 entries from this year's VR Indie Pitch at VR Connects London 2017. As you can see, this year saw quite a diverse array of experiences presented to the judges, all of which where interesting and unique in their own right.
A big thank you to every single team that came along and pitched, alongside all the judges who gave up their time to experience some of the most exciting indie projects in VR. We here at The Virtual Report look forward to seeing what the future holds in store for all of the titles pitched, and of course to seeing more VR indie projects when the VR Indie Pitch returns this summer at VR Connects San Francisco.