You see the board and you know what to do. Four spaces around a table top, miniature figures of elves and wizards, and a many-sided die just begging to be picked up and thrown.
Demeo is, at its core, a simulation. It recreates the traditional tabletop role-playing game, evoking fond memories of Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and many other variations of the classic RPG. But it’s also a faithful RPG all on its own, powered by a unique-to-VR interaction system that allows players to jump into the miniature world of a fantasy dungeon for up close and personal encounters with goblins, trolls, and spiders. Players—solo or in teams of up to four—navigate a labyrinth of procedurally-generated dungeons using a die to determine moves and action cards to fight or flee combat.
Developer Resolution Games has long wanted to bring a game like Demeo to the Oculus Platform. They’ve perfected VR interaction across all their games—including Blaston, Cook-Out, and most recently Carly and the Reaperman—and dreamed of combining everything they’ve learned within a game that’s truly social, engaging, and nostalgic.
Demeo launched today on the Oculus Quest Platform and Steam VR, and it will come to the Rift Platform later this month. To celebrate, we sat down with Resolution Games Producer Johan Donwill to learn more.
What was the inspiration for Demeo?
Johan Donwill: Demeo as a concept has been decades in the making. Many of us on the team grew up not only in front of console games but also sitting around a table with friends playing board games. We have dreamed about taking game night to the next level and strongly believed that VR would be the perfect way to take people inside the games.
The best part about board games comes from the social interaction with your friends. And with Demeo, I really think we captured that—playing with friends across the globe, but at the same time feeling their presence. There’s something so powerful about the social connectivity that’s possible within VR that lends so well to this new form of game night with Demeo.
How did you choose the name? What does it mean?
JD:Demeo [Dee-mee.o] means to descend or go down in Latin, and we thought that was a really good fit with our game, as you go deeper and deeper into the dungeon, floor by floor. And it sounds pretty cool as well =)
What is your favorite part of the game?
JD: As mentioned earlier, I would say the social aspect of it—and that you play with your friends as opposed to against them. We say that you have to “work together to set the spirit of the Mad Elven King free... or die trying,” because the cooperative nature of the game is so important and is really a huge part of what makes the game so fun. When you strategize how to move forward with your band of heroes and come up with a plan that works, it is so rewarding!
How does Demeo build on Resolution Games’ previous VR experiences in Angry Birds, Cook-Out, and Blaston?
JD: Every title we have released has given us valuable information and learnings of how to make games for VR: how to optimize performance, what works in a multiplayer game, and so on. Our titles have historically been more stylized when it comes to art, and with Demeo we wanted to try something else. It has changed our pipeline and how we work on the art side a bit. As with anything new, we also discovered a few new challenges, but we have a ton of new learnings to share with the rest of the projects, and that is how we evolve.
Another core thread that is seen in Demeo that exists in all of our titles is just how easy it is to get into the gameplay quickly and start having fun. That’s not necessarily so common with this genre, so we’re excited to see how it opens up to more players.
What influences drive the look and feel of Demeo’s basement setting? Is it a memory from someone’s childhood?
JD: I think the basement image pops up in everyone's mind when you mention game night in the '80s. It’s a kind of utopian nostalgia that was really important to those of us on the team who grew up having game nights with friends during that era. Being able to encompass the feeling that comes with that atmosphere and translating it into the Demeo environment was definitely a fun part of developing the game for those of us behind the scenes!
What kind of computer is that in the corner?! A few people on our QA team have been arguing about this for weeks.
JD: Hehe, we wanted it to look like it was from the ’80s/’90s without making a replica. Let’s call it “Digitized Education Master Efficiency Observer.”
Tell us about the sound design for Demeo. It changes dynamically based on how close or far away the player is from the board. What inspired that choice?
JD: Glad you noticed! During the development process, we saw that people on the team played the game differently—some preferred to play zoomed in up-close, while others zoomed out to get a bird’s-eye view. We wanted the sound picture to fit every player. When close up, we offer a more atmospheric sound experience that brings you into the action of the dungeon. When played zoomed out, we wanted to replicate how it would sound to have a board game alive on the table.
Any teasers for post-launch content you want to share with our readers?
JD: As with other titles from Resolution Games, Demeo has an extensive content map planned to ensure adventurers have a steady supply of treasure and glory for years to come.
In addition to bringing the game to traditional PC in the coming months, we will also be rolling out features such as the ability to save your game and come back to it later with your group of friends, plus more adventure modules with new bosses and enemies, new themes, new cards, and more.
What is the one thing you hope players don’t say about Demeo after playing it?
JD: “I thought it said Demo.”
Demeo is out today for the Quest Platform and Steam VR and will launch on Rift later this month with cross-play enabled.