Developer explains why Farpoint is a PS4 exclusive

Chris Stead 16 May 2017 NEWS

psvr-farpoint

Sony is set to capitalise on its partnership with indie developer Impulse Gear.

It’s arguably the most exciting PSVR release to date. Eight months on from the hardware’s successful launch comes Farpoint, an exclusive, narrative-driven first-person shooter customer made for the core gamer. It brings with it a new playing experience with the innovative Aim Controller, and come its release on May 17, it’s expected to be snapped up by PSVR owners across the world. Certainly, our experiences with an early build of the game have been promising.

Farpoint is therefore quite the win for Sony, with main rivals Oculus Rift and HTC Vive missing out on the experience. Impulse Gear is fully independent and not tied to Sony in any way. However, while interviewing the developer’s founder, Seth Luisi, this past week, I learned more about how this partnership came about. The insight came as we talked about the innovative Aim Controller and why it plays such an important role in bringing the core gamer FPS experience to VR successfully (though you can play with DualShock 4 if you please). It turns out Luisi’s previous experiences with Sony, and their willingness to help turn their Aim Controller prototype into a reality sealed the deal.

On the Aim Controller; what are its key features that enable Fapoint to play the way it does?

The 1-to-1 tracking would definitely be the biggest thing and having the controller accurately represent the weapon you have in the game. But also having the analogue sticks so you can move in one direction, but look in another direction, while pointing the controller in yet another direction as well - it’s as if you are there. So that really adds to the immersion of the game and the overall experience as you believe you are there on that alien world.

In the development timeline for Farpoint and the Aim Controller, were they conceived at the same time or were the controls something you were struggling with before Sony came along?

No, it was something we were prototyping out early on. We grabbed some existing [controller] pieces and duct taped them together – actually I think we used rubber bands – to prototype the idea out. Then we took it over to Sony to demonstrate it to the team there and they immediately saw the benefit of it. That’s when we started collaborating on making the Aim Controller. It was the control scheme we always had in mind for Farpoint.

Was that support then the big attraction of signing with Sony, as they wanted to take that Aim Controller to market?

Certainly, that was a big part of it, but also I worked at Sony in the past. I know what a great company Sony is to work for and with, so we couldn’t ask for a better partner. Especially when it comes to VR when we look at the install base and the size of the market there. Really, it was a dream for us to work with Sony not only in having the controller but also because of PSVR.

Were other developers involved in the Aim Controller, too, and does it support other genres?

We collaborated with the Sony team in developing the Aim Controller, so we just worked closely with them. They came up with a great design that made it ambidextrous and popped all the buttons within very easy reach of your fingers so you don’t have to take your hand off. But from day one, we did feel it was very important that the Aim Controller was of use to any developer. So we’re excited that there are a number of developers and a number of games that have been announced with support for the Aim Controller.

One of the important things about the VR scene at the moment is that it is so young, which means there’s plenty of room for a game like Farpoint to come along and evolve the space; to push back the boundaries and define the games that follow. So where do you feel that Farpoint will leave a legacy on VR?

Obviously, we feel very strongly about the controller and how we are using it. We do think that going forward, if you are going to be making a shooting game in VR you are going to be compared against Farpoint. We do think it is a very compelling way of playing a shooting game in VR. We’re excited to be part of the process and basically setting it up and showing what is possible for this type of game in VR.

Are there any other developers working on VR titles that you feel are doing interesting stuff and that you are keeping an eye on?

There’s plenty of interesting experiences. I like Batman and how it made you feel like you were the character. There's RIGS with that competitive eSports angle. Then there are all these interesting little narratives and short stories that are available. It’s really interesting to see though that only a very few number of developers are putting together a narrative and showing it in VR because there is something special about seeing these things play out in 3D where it feels like it is something you can touch and interact with.

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