Summer blockbusters aren’t just for Hollywood anymore. With the zero-g double-header launch of Lone Echo and Echo Arena, Rift + Touch’s brand-new bundle, and more, VR’s made some serious waves during the Summer of Rift.
Today, the media megastars behind Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, and Life get in on the action with Archangel—available now on Rift!
Skydance Interactive President Peter Akemann gave us the inside scoop on his division’s first foray into VR.
What motivated Skydance Media to enter the VR space with the launch of Skydance Interactive?
Peter Akemann: It was the vision of Skydance Media from its inception to build a transmedia company with film, television, and interactive divisions. With a background in film, David Ellison began there, followed by television, but the right opportunity had to arrive to launch into the interactive space. The advent of high-fidelity VR with motion control was that opportunity.
It was clear that the hardware was there, and the market was slowly growing. This was the chance for a new company with vision and stamina to jump in where the established players would not—a future bet on the platform. Skydance found a veteran developer in The Workshop Entertainment, who was of like mind on VR, and the rest is history.
How has Skydance’s proven track record in film and television influenced operations on the gaming side?
PA: At its core, Skydance gives creators space and support to bring a vision to life. This is the essence of any creative commercial enterprise, and it’s certainly critical to our gaming operation. The Skydance passion for world-building, storytelling, cinematic presentation, and event-level entertainment is reflected in our games. It was this commitment that let us take Archangel further than most to bring AAA sensibilities to the platform.
What was the initial inspiration for Archangel?
PA: We knew VR could deliver an amazing sense of scale in addition to 1:1 tracking, so we decided to embrace a fiction that did both—putting you as the pilot inside a giant mech. The mech fantasy is so universal, I’d almost call it an archetype. More than piloting a tank or a plane, it’s a projection of ourselves through this anthropomorphic machine. I think it’s a metaphor for how our technology make us super-human.
How has the project changed over time?
PA: As the strength of the underlying experience became clear, we built more game on top of it, going deeper on story, world-building, actors, cinematic support—basically, we went as far as we could to deliver a full-fledged game that would be worthy of console and PC gamers’ attention. We’ve laid the foundations for a great future world, and I think we’ve just scratched the surface of what VR can do for the genre.
Any plans for future updates?
PA: Right now, we’re focused on getting Archangel out to the world. If you’re hurting for more of a fix right now, the difficulty settings deliver some great gameplay challenges. Hard difficulty will give serious gamers a run for their money, and for the hardest-core try Perma-Death (if you dare). Also, if you live near an IMAX VR Center, you’ll soon find our arcade adaptation of Archangel, with exclusive arcade content.
Where do you think VR will take us next?
PA: We’re just seeing the fruits of the first serious push to get real games on the platform. The hardware is going to be a slow grind, but I’m expecting great leaps forward from the software with each iteration. We’re chipping away at the hardest interface problems—navigation, nausea, fatigue—and new paradigms emerge with every new game. As the core vocabulary gets laid down, we can build on it and deliver deeper games with more long-term player value. The unique experience that VR delivers will continue to widen the gap with conventional media. I think we’re no more than two years out from the Rubicon moment where VR delivers an entertainment experience that conventional media can’t touch.
What’s next for you? Any exciting projects in the works?
PA: I’m sure your readers caught the news about our partnership with Skybound Entertainment to create The Walking Dead VR—not saying much about it yet, other than that the concept alone is enough to get your spine tingling. The Walking Dead stands categorically apart from others in the horror genre by creating a desperate, believable world where ordinary decisions are imbued with profound moral consequences. We’ll make the player wholly present in that world and take them on a harrowing journey they will never forget.
There’s much more I can’t say yet, but I assure you we’ll continue exploring the frontiers we’ve found and open new ones. This is an amazing time, and I hope we can make some wonderful and memorable games as we write our part of this next chapter in gaming history.
Thanks for the insights, Peter. We’re excited to continue building the future of VR with you!
Don’t miss Archangel, available now on the Oculus Store, and stay tuned to the blog tomorrow for more exciting Summer of Rift news.
— The Oculus Team