Announced at E3, the Closed Beta for Space Junkies kicks off today at 5:00 am PT and runs through 1:00 am PT on July 2! If you successfully pre-registered, now’s your chance to dual-wield explosive weapons in the upcoming cross-platform Ubisoft game that IGN called “a VR first-person shooter done right.”
Members of the dev team will also be on hand throughout the Closed Beta, so you may even get the chance to play with an expert and put your skills to the ultimate test.
There’s still some time to sign up for a chance to play in future live tests. Click here to throw your proverbial hat in the intergalactic ring!
We sat down with Producer Adrian Lacey to get fired up for this jet pack-fueled foray into the cold and deadly reaches of outer space.
What kind of community response have you seen since announcing Space Junkies?
Adrian Lacey: The response has been great, but it’s all about actually playing the game! We’re a competitive shooter in VR, and trying to explain VR to people is always tricky. What’s been amazing is that we’ve been able to meet with the community in VR, answer questions, socialize, and get feedback in a very personal way. It’s almost like they’re in the studio with us, and they’ve virtually become a part of our dev team. We’re truly grateful for their support!
Did you encounter any challenges with offering a cross-platform beta?
AL: Cross-platform is tricky in VR. Because of the difference in the way players play, we had to make sure that our recommended controls with head input and weapon handling worked well for both HTC Vive wands and Oculus Touch controllers and that players had enough options to play with their preferred control configuration. We still recommend navigating via head movement and a seated experience for beginners to get used to the game, but it’s really up to the player to decide. Live phases like our Closed Beta are a good way for us to get more feedback from our players as we work to improve the game.
AL: Iteration is key in VR and technically very challenging, so developing a custom engine was a great starting point that let us tackle problems in unique ways, including loading times and dynamic lighting. We also developed a method for doing level design by working directly in VR, which allows the designers and artists to get a sense of scale and space in real time while they’re working.
Start Trek provided a great social and collaborative experience for players. I mean, who doesn’t want to be like Captain Kirk? Eagle Flight showed that full locomotion was possible and easily accessible. Over the last couple years developing Space Junkies, we’ve worked to expand upon these experiences and tried to take on the hardest challenges of VR.
In what ways?
AL: Well, with full embodiment, we wanted to give players a complete body and not just a floating torso with dismembered hands. This gives players a much greater sense of self and presence in the virtual world. We also added hand gestures to help with communication and expression so that you can now become a living emoticon!
We also wanted to create a very fast and dynamic shooter. With the jet pack strapped to you, players can duck, dodge, weave, and groove through deadly orbital arenas and spherical battle spaces at high speeds while using a wide variety of insane weapons.
Speaking of, the weapons and equipment are also very unique in Space Junkies, from two-handed nuclear slingshots and pulse rifles to laser swords and photon shields. These combinations create exciting new ways for the players to battle in the style of their choosing.
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen while demoing the game?
AL: It always makes me laugh when players discover that they can clap their hands—it’s just so funny! We had one guy who clapped hysterically for two minutes solid and just kept clapping at any opportunity. I had to convince him to come and play the actual game or else he would have stayed there all day clapping away! Maybe we should look into developing a Clapping Simulator next year?
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Adrian. We’ll be cheering you on (and clapping) during the Closed Beta!
Click here to sign up for future Space Junkies live events and stay tuned for more news as we head toward launch later this year.
— The Oculus Team