Harmonix, the creator of rhythm-based games like Dance Central™ and Rock Band™VR, helped set the stage for today’s popular music gaming scene. Since the release of Frequency in 2001, Harmonix has been fine-tuning its hit formula that combines catchy tunes from legendary artists—from David Bowie to Deep Purple—with innovative hardware and accessible gameplay. AUDICA™, the latest title from Harmonix, makes its debut performance today on Oculus Quest with new tracks, leaderboards, and modifiers for advanced players.
Originally released last March on the Rift platform, AUDICA™ mixes electronic tracks with rhythm-based gunplay. Players stand inside a virtual arena and use twin pistols to blast, punch, and cut through an array of beats as they fly around a space-themed environment. AUDICA™ rewards both speed and accuracy, like most games from Harmonix, so dominating the leaderboard is a matter of reflexes and timing. That said, AUDICA™ also emphasizes spatial awareness, creating a unique experience for VR players and longtime fans of traditional music games.
To hear more about what makes AUDICA™ a fresh experience for players, and to learn how it was ported over to Quest, we talked with Harmonix Product Manager Troy Ferrio.
What kind of response have you seen since launching AUDICA™ on the Rift Platform?
Troy Ferrio: Since we launched AUDICA™ into Early Access earlier this year, we have been blown away by our players’ enthusiasm for the game, their active interest in its development, and their desire to play it on Oculus Quest. We worked hard to bring our players’ feedback into the game—everything from tweaking the angle you hold each gun to core scoring mechanics. Launching on Quest feels like the culmination of nearly a year of feedback, work, and revisions.
What motivated you to bring AUDICA™ over to Oculus Quest?
TF: We saw how Quest could deliver a high-quality, untethered VR experience in Dance Central™, and we knew that we had to bring AUDICA™ to the platform. Being able to take your headset anywhere and experience our rhythm action gameplay has always been our goal.
Did you encounter any technical challenges while optimizing AUDICA™ for a mobile chipset? If so, how did you overcome those obstacles?
TF: We originally created AUDICA™ as an early access title for PC. Our efforts were focused on gameplay iteration and crafting an awesome visual experience, as opposed to optimizing for mobile. When it came time to do the Quest port, we definitely had our work cut out for us! While the wireless headset is a natural fit for the gameplay, we wanted to deliver a similar caliber of graphics to Quest players as seen in our PC release.
Through careful rewriting of our shaders, as well as some clever tricks and assistance from Oculus engineers, we have created a Quest experience that we can't wait to share with the world.
What’s your favorite part of AUDICA™ and why?
TF: My favorite part of AUDICA™, even from the very first prototype, has always been the way our target and shot effects complement the music. It’s not just matching the beat of the music, we feel the layering of hit effects and sustain warping enhances the audio experience.
However, one of my new favorites is one of our new features for the Quest launch: track modifiers. We introduced modifiers in our Campaign that tweaked the normal gameplay with things like Fast Targets, Tempo Ramp, and Move Hands At Most 50m. Now players can add these modifiers to any song in Solo and Group Play. The new modifiers menu allows for advanced players to challenge themselves with something new, and there’s something super tough about tackling a song you think you’ve mastered with invisible guns and the tempo steadily increasing.
How did you go about selecting the tracklist for today’s paid and free DLC?
TF: Harmonix has had a long history of crafting amazing soundtracks for our games and DLC, and AUDICA™ is no different. We pay attention to artists we think our players would like and seek out tracks we can immediately picture authoring and mapping. Our core soundtracks tend to be pretty focused, so with our DLC we’ve been exploring genres not represented in the core soundtrack to help expand AUDICA™’s musical diversity.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
TF: We are hard at work developing more DLC for AUDICA™ to expand its soundtrack even further. We’re going to have content for all players and platforms releasing over the next few months, so stay tuned for more info.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
TF: I just want to thank all of our players and fans. It has been incredible watching this community grow and provide amazing feedback that has truly shaped where the game is today.
AUDICA™ is out now on Quest with full cross-buy support, so give it a whirl and see if you’ve got what it takes to dominate the leaderboards.