Are you ready to return to The Manor? Alex Moretti of Fallen Planet Studios is back to discuss their nightmarish Halloween DARKNESS UPDATE, as well as give his takes on the virtual reality market and the Quest 2.VR News
Are you ready to return to The Manor? Alex Moretti of Fallen Planet Studios is back to discuss their nightmarish Halloween DARKNESS UPDATE, as well as give his takes on the virtual reality market and the Quest 2.
Just in time for Halloween, Fallen Planet Studios have released a terror-inducing new update to AFFECTED: The Manor. The DARKNESS UPDATE is an all-new game mode, featuring a new route through the famed house of horrors. If that wasn’t enough for you horror fans out there, The Manor has also just been released for the Quest 2. CEO and co-founder of Fallen Planet Studios Alex Moretti joined us once again to discuss the new update, the Quest 2, the industry, and their future plans.
The DARKNESS UPDATE certainly ratchets up the tension: players must brave the gloom with only a sputtering candle to see them through the night. Explaining this choice, Alex says “We knew we wanted to show off the Dynamic Shadows on the Quest 2 and to give it a different feel from The Manor. In the original, we could use the flashlight and other light sources to give big rooms a really cinematic feel, but obviously that’s not possible with a single candle. Candlelight has such a short range, we had to create a much smaller environment in a new route through the house. It gave quite an intense, claustrophobic feeling. Everything outside of that small range is uncertain and nerve wracking.”
Reflecting on the three gameplay modes The Manor now encompasses, he notes that “It feels like we’ve got a complete product for the user. The Manor is the classic version, The Gauntlet is dynamic and competitive with replay value, and the DARKNESS UPDATE is definitely the scariest of the three.” The menu screen speaks to this: players find themselves alternately confronted by a traditional haunted house, the eerie, gothic stillness of the DARKNESS UPDATE and The Gauntlet’s unnerving brightness.
The Manor has now been released on every available VR platform. Oculus even invited Fallen Planet Studios to launch their flagship title for the Quest and Quest 2. Alex says, “It’s flattering, ultimately! It’s great that The Manor is so well-loved. Myself and my co-founder wanted to make something sustainable; we wanted to keep learning and to keep building relationships with hardware companies. To go from releasing on Gear VR in 2016 with very limited hardware, to working with companies like Oculus is fantastic. We were able to get real-time Dynamic Shadows running on an Android device for the first time, which is a real achievement for us. ”
Alex describes the continuing importance of The Manor for virtual reality. “We knew that it was a very good introductory title for people new to VR, and we understood that that was going to be important for the next few years, as far as all of the big manufacturers go. As long as we make sure our app is always up to date and shows off the new hardware that we’re working with - like Dynamic Shadows - we can show off how cool upcoming headsets are to consumers, and tick off a box for manufacturers. With the industry growing as we’ve wanted it to, The Manor will always be relevant.”
As we’ve all seen with the popularity of the Quest 2 and its predecessor, there’s been a shift in the market towards wireless headsets. “There’ll always be PC gamers, so there’ll always be PC VR, but we can definitely see where the market’s going: it’s standalone headsets with 6DOF capabilities. For the big headset manufacturers targeting millions of people, they’ve realised that traditional PC gaming won’t be the way. The Quest was an inflexion point: the Rift only did a few hundred thousand units, but the Quest did that in its first few months.”
Oculus has managed to build on the Quest’s momentum with its latest headset: “The Quest 2 comes with many improvements: the chip set, increased RAM, and a single-screen giving better resolution. The controllers are more robust and have better haptics. There’s been great anecdotal evidence from developers with the new Quest 2: there’s been an instant up-tick in users. This is something we always hoped would be happening, honestly. We’re even seeing a change in the type of consumers from where we were in 2016 or so. Now, they’re more critical, but that’s a good thing. It means that we’re not just reaching VR enthusiasts, but that we’re becoming more mainstream.”
Alongside their latest release, Fallen Planet Studios have found the time to keep in touch with their long-time collaborators: VR arcades. Currently, they’re running a competition with North-American franchise Ctrl V. The player with the fastest time in The Gauntlet will find their gory portrait hanging on the walls of The Manor. “Arcades have been offline for a number of months, and we wanted to give them something fun to engage their community, without having to endlessly talk about new cleanliness and PPE measures. The competition’s short and sweet, so it’s easy for customers to just pop in with their friends. With the competition, the arcades have a tool to talk about their business from a fun point of view.”
Looking forward, Alex sketched out what was on the studio’s horizon. “We love horror, but we want to develop as a studio with something different. We work with great hardware partners, like Virtuix and UltraLeap, and we’d be just as happy to show them off in non-horror experiences coming down the pipeline. The Manor shows the power of getting good, popular genre games right for a new medium like VR: we’d love to take up that challenge in a new genre. We have some strong concepts; it’s always about a great story and narrative for us.”
If you feel ready to brave The Manor, you can get the title, with the free DARKNESS UPDATE 20% off for a limited time on Steam and the Oculus store.