Our XR Indie Pitch competitions are getting bigger as we bring them to events all across the world, such as London, San Francisco and Helsinki. To give you an idea of what the events are like, who takes part and the games they show, we've asked some previous XR Indie Pitch contestants to share their views.
Today, we're speaking to Game Cooks' Lara Noujaim, who won the XR Indie Pitch at VR Connects San Francisco this year with their game, VINDICTA.
The Virtual Report: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio - who is in the team, and what are their inspirations?
Lara Noujaim: Game Cooks was founded in 2012 in Beirut and was born out of a desire to build a game development scene in the Middle East where there was close to none at the time. I joined them to head their marketing and communication efforts shortly after.
The studio went on to launch 14 international mobile game titles on the iTunes and Google Play store before deciding to make a jump into VR, in early 2016 after returning from an eye-opening trip to GDC in San Francisco. Since then, Game Cooks has launched HOVR, a 3 rd person racing mobile VR game for the Samsung Gear VR and most recently VINDICTA – a first person shooter for the HTC Vive available in early access on SteamVR.
The team is made-up of 10 game-passionate and dedicated team members who happen to be big fans of FPS games, which is what led us to create VINDICTA in the first place. This title represents for us the kind of shooter game we want to experience in virtual reality!
Tell us about your latest project that you pitched at the competition.
VINDICTA is a fun VR campaign shooter that will get you running, crawling, hiding and even climbing as you infiltrate the fortified UB Industries facility and kill any robot that stands in your way. We’ve implemented arm-swinging locomotion, a way of movement that sees you swinging your arms to move inside the game – this method feels like a much more natural way of moving in VR. The player can also select trackpad locomotion.
From The Lab to the Sewers and beyond the player, armed with a variety of weapons, will be up against robots of all shapes and sizes that get increasingly difficult to destroy. The game currently has five levels of gameplay and will be going through its first update by next week, which will include new content, attack weapons, enemies and a total of 8 – 10 hours of pure uninterrupted and immersive VR shooter fun.
How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer working in VR?
Being an indie developer already comes with a host of challenges, let alone being based in Beirut, which is quite far from the VR hubs around the world. That has been one of our main challenges as we jumped into VR. We make up for it by attending leading VR conferences such as XR Connects. Making the jump intoVR was actually a smooth one – being indie developers and having an overall small team (total of 10 team members) means that we are quite flexible and adapt quickly to change. It took us less than two months to do our R&D before we were up and running and working on our first mobile VR project HOVR.
Today in VR, you are no longer competing on who has the biggest ad budget and UA know-how. Instead, the race to the top is purely based on the quality of content as many VR indie developers have proven in the past year with the success of their titles. There is a still a relatively small amount of VR games out there and an even smaller amount of quality titles. The VR community of players (and developers!) is hungry for awesome new games to make good use of their VR headset – content that's worth the price tag.
As with operating in mobile gaming, working in VR is no different for indie developers when it comes to time – a scare resource in our world. So as an indie studio, we had to decide what is it that will make your game stand out, that will make a difference and we put all our efforts on that.
How did you find the experience of the XR Indie Pitch?
It was amazing! Always great to have experts in the field come up, give your game a try and most importantly give you feedback. This is not our first time participating in the indie pitch and will definitely not be our last...
What are your hopes for this game in the future and do you have any plans for any future projects?
We launched VINDICTA in early access last June, but our work is far from done; we'll keep working on the title and hope to reach a full launch by the end of the year. You can keep up to date by checking our Steam page.
Want to show off your exciting new game? We host XR Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye out on our events page for an event near you.
Upcoming XR Indie Pitches include:
- The XR Indie Pitch at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2018 (22nd - 23rd January 2017)