Greetings, Champions! Schell Games’ Community Marketing Specialist Adam Kuta here with another Until You Fall Developer Diary.
In the previous posts from our team, Project Director Dave Bennett, Design Director Patrick Jalbert, and Art Director Justin DeVore discussed topics from the early stages of Until You Fall’s development—setting the game’s identity through its pillars, refining the core of the combat, and building the beautiful, neon world of Rokar respectively. All of these directly impact the game, but what about the players themselves?
Player outreach efforts can often be an overlooked aspect of videogame development, but it’s a crucial part of the process. We started building a community for Until You Fall while we were in the midst of developing the game. Community development helps to build buzz and enthusiasm for a videogame even before it launches. We give fans the opportunity to provide input and feedback into the game’s development by directly connecting our team with the players. The interaction with our players encourages continued discussion about the title, which can be a key factor in a game’s success.
My primary job revolves around building and fostering community. I dabble in everything from creating and sharing social media posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to building events and activities for the players. And one day in a hopeful future, I’ll be encouraging new players to take on the Unraveled at a convention near you!
My absolute favourite aspect of my job is managing the Discord server. Here, over 2,700 Rune Knights have joined in to share their passion for Until You Fall. The Discord serves as our hub for players to talk about the game, share battle strategies, report bugs, give feedback, and most importantly for this diary, enter monthly challenges!
These challenges task players with completing in-game feats for the chance to win real-world prizes, with the primary function of keeping players engaged with the game’s content and each other. However, there’s a lot to learn about how a community behaves, what they like, and how they play the game through these types of events. Let’s take a look.
A New Challenge Appears
During the early stages of community building, Until You Fall’s monthly challenges mostly consisted of simply reaching the final boss with a specific combination of weapons. This is wonderful for two reasons: it inspires players to test new playstyles and strategies they may not have tried, and it effectively keeps them engaged with the content.
However, I made it a mission to allow players of all skill levels to be able to compete in community challenges. For example, the “Welcome to Rokar Challenge” asked players to complete the game with the default weapons on any difficulty, mostly targeting newcomers; however, it was paired with the “Welcome Back to Rokar Challenge,” a speedrun competition for the fastest time with the same weapon set for the veterans.
After the challenge ended, we received a lot of feedback that players wanted to see even more tiered contests. Players of all skill levels appreciated the different options so they could participate at their level. It didn’t feel as though only the best players were going to be the winners, and casual players felt welcomed (pun intended) to enter the “Welcome to Rokar” Challenge.
This success inspired me even further with the next challenge, and I wanted to see how the community would react to a “minimal skill level required” event. In other words, I wanted to test the Aether with a purely creative-based challenge. Thus, the “Rokari Safari” was born.
Creating A New Way
Perhaps I got a little overzealous because the event consisted of sixteen different mini-challenges players needed to complete to earn points. All of these went hard with the “creativity” focus. For example: creating a postcard for the different in-game environments, sharing a Rokar-inspired recipe, and writing lyrics for one of the amazing Swordwave tracks from the game’s original soundtrack.
We received a handful of absolutely stunning submissions. Sharing some of the fan artwork and videos with the development team was a pure joy, and I was increasingly inspired and impressed by each entry we got. Yet, despite the quality of the submissions, participation was significantly lower than I had hoped. And, I’m still low-key sad no one wrote lyrics for Kneon Knightmare…
I learned so much from this challenge. Most entries came from a handful of dedicated players. So, it seemed the ‘creative-focus’ of the “Rokari Safari” had turned some of the newcomers and “less-artsy” players away from participating. We even had some players admit to not submitting simply because they didn’t think they could produce something “worthy” or “good enough.” It’s funny how the original intention of “a challenge anyone can participate in” became the one that many felt like they couldn’t.
It definitely wasn’t the vibe or impression I wanted to give. EVERYONE can be a badass Rune Knight, and we certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in our events. So, for the next month’s challenge, I returned to another pre-established challenge format: Community Factions.
Finding Where You Belong
There are three main Factions in the Until You Fall Discord lore, each one representing a specific focus to combat, weapons, and/or battle tactics. With these factions in mind, I really wanted players to feel a sense of pride in their “home team” and maybe a bit of friendly rivalry against the other teams. Insert obvious Pokémon GO team and Harry Potter House Cup correlation here. What? It’s a thing for a reason! It works.
The challenge asked players to pick a Faction and earn points for their team by upgrading the Faction’s weaponry, beating the game with said weapons, and actively promoting their Faction through social media. And wow, did they ever!
The Discord server came alive with veterans and newcomers alike pledging their allegiance to one of the three Factions and encouraging each other to earn points for their teams. Weekly updates of the team’s scores turned up the intensity even further, as two of the Factions were neck and neck until the end. It was exhilarating!
In fact, the community connected with the challenge so much, we’re planning to host quarterly Faction Challenges. We already released specific emojis for the server based on the teams, and have seen an increase in conversation/recruiting in the Faction-specific Discord channels—even during the off-season!
The idea of “finding your place” really stuck with me for the next challenge, and I wanted to incorporate that major success into the next challenge while testing another theory. See, part of me had doubts “Rokari Safari” underperformed just because it was a “creative” challenge. I thought, maybe I had simply made it too complex. I mean, sixteen different challenges is a lot, right? Maybe I overwhelmed the players? Well, I needed to test this theory.
Mastering Your Own Style
The “Your Inner Rune Knight Challenge” combined all of my previous challenges into one. We returned to the weapon-combination focus of the “Welcome to Rokar” challenge. We broke the players into personality types and “teams” like the Faction Challenge. And, most importantly, I provided more complex rules and asked a bit more from the players, like the “Rokari Safari Challenge.”
Essentially, players were tasked to complete the “Discover Your Inner Rune Knight” quiz. Their results would recommend specific weapons and strategies for playing the game. There are four different archetypes. For the challenge, each archetype was designated with four weapons to choose from, and players would need to reach the final boss of the game using two of those four weapons for their archetype. But, it didn’t stop there. Players were then encouraged to try out the other three archetypes and reach the final boss using two of their weapons. This tasked players to reach the end of the game four times with four completely different play styles. Plus taking a quiz—but let’s face it, that part was easy.
When I posted the official rules in the Discord, I remember being slightly afraid. Was this going to be another “too complex” challenge like the “Rokari Safari?” But, wow was I proven wrong.
The “Discover Your Inner Rune Knight” challenge easily became the most participated in challenge in the Discord server to date. (Granted, it just happened last month, but… still!). We had almost triple the amount of submissions when compared to “Rokari Safari” and probably ten times more than some of our early day Challenges.
While a huge part of this success can be attributed to the intense growth of our Discord server since the game’s official launch for Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR on 29th September plus the Early Access exit on Oculus Rift/S and Steam on 27th October, I like to think that it also validates many of the lessons I took away from my experimental approaches to Challenges in the months prior.
With all of these takeaways, I’m more and more confident that Until You Fall’s Discord challenges will only continue to explore new territories and (hopefully) build and foster the growing community of Rune Knights. The team has plenty of ideas for Rokar’s future, and we look forward to sharing them with our growing Discord community!
With that said, we would love to hear what you want to see and experience. I highly encourage you to join the Discord server. While you’re there, sign up for the next monthly challenge and tap into your inner Rune Knight along with the rest of the Until You Fall community.
I’ll be rooting for you, Champion. Stay strong and press the advantage!
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Wave Deprecates VR App to Focus on Broader Distribution of Its Virtual Performances
Wave, the virtual venue & virtual event production company formerly known as TheWaveVR, has moved away from virtual reality over the last two years in favor of distributing its virtual performances to a broader audience through non-immersive media channels. The company today announced that it has “de-prioritized” its VR app, which will officially shut down at the end of March. Wave says the move will allow it to focus on bringing “more fans [to] experience our virtual events on popular streaming platforms.”
Founded in 2016, Wave has raised some $40 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase, to chase its vision of virtual concerts as the future of music performances. The company has produced virtual events headlined by well known artists like John Legend and Lindsey Stirling. Performances are rendered in real-time, with artists donning mo-cap suits and face-tracking tech to bring their likeness into the virtual world as their avatars perform in fantastical virtual venues.
Image courtesy Wave
At the outset, the company’s platform was built to be immersive and interactive—even allowing users to host their own performances—with audiences joining the venue via virtual reality through the Wave Beta app which launched on Steam in 2017 and Oculus PC in 2018.
But with VR’s relatively slow adoption, the company realized it wasn’t reaching the scale of audience that it needed. Wave began focusing its efforts on broadcasting the virtual productions beyond virtual reality so that a wider audience could enjoy the show. Now the company says its fully focused on delivering virtual productions through traditional channels, like livestreams, and will be shutting down its VR app at the end of March.
The primary reason, the company maintains, is that part of its VR app relies on Google’s 3D model hosting platform, Poly (which itself is shutting down); Wave says it doesn’t have the resources to build a new solution into the app. The company contends that its best option is to shutter the app for now, and promises to do “everything we can to one day bring back [the VR experience] in an even more evolved form.”
Wave CEO & co-founder Adam Arrigo publicly shared the following note:
We founded Wave almost five years ago to connect humanity through immersive music experiences. That journey started in the VR space, with our community-driven VR app on Steam, and it’s been rewarding watching our community of creators use our tools to host their own VR concerts. We never foresaw the incredible things people would create, and often attending those shows felt like peering into the future of live music / visual art performance and being blown away by the result.
Two years ago we pivoted out of VR into gaming and live-streaming, as the VR industry didn’t develop as quickly as we’d hoped. Artists need audiences to thrive, and we realized VR just wasn’t there yet, and there was a bigger opportunity for artists outside headsets. Even though ti doesn’t fit our current business model, we’ve kept TheWaveVR app and servers running just because the community in there has made such inspiring stuff. Unfortunately we built the user tools on top of Google Poly, which is shutting down.
As much as we’d love to, we aren’t able to spend the resources to build a new backend pipeline, since we are already spread so thin trying to accomplish our current set of non VR objectives. We are still a relatively small startup. The hardest part of running a startup is choosing what to focus on, which has led us to the difficult decision to sunset TheWaveVR app on Steam and Oculus.
Even though this means the Wave VR shows will come to a pause, we think this is the best decision for the long term future of the Wave community, and we promise to do everything we can to one day bring back this experience in an even more evolved form. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for joining us for all those multi-hour VR raves and for helping us craft this vision of the future of music and art. We hope you’ll join us for this next chapter.
The post Wave Deprecates VR App to Focus on Broader Distribution of Its Virtual Performances appeared first on Road to VR.
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VR Download: Battlescar, Doom 3 For Quest, System Shock 2, And The Outlook For 2021
This week’s VR Download Games discussion covered Battlescar, Doom 3 on Oculus Quest, System Shock 2, and the overall outlook for virtual reality in 2021.
We also encountered a funny bug in our custom-built virtual recording studio wherein David couldn’t hear me, which forced him to depend on our live viewers to ensure I wasn’t insulting him live on YouTube.
Check out the discussion here:
Here’s a list of the key timestamps if you don’t have time to watch the whole show:
- 1:08 – Battlescar
- 3:36 – Doom 3 for Quest
- 9:04 – Mare
- 10:21 – Quest getting multiple accounts
- 14:14 – Dragon Quest VR?
- 17:13 – 1.7 million new SteamVR users in 2020
- 20:42 – PSVR 2020 Top Sellers
- 27:22 – System Shock 2 VR
- 31:53 – Hitman 3 PSVR
- 37:20 – Where is VR going in 2021?
- 56:40 – Outro
The VR Download broadcasts live to YouTube Mondays at 1 pm Pacific and Thursdays at 2:30 Pacific, with a tech-focused discussion on Monday and a games-focused event on Thursday. We have YouTube comments up in VR so we can interact live with our audience and we’d love to have you join us with questions or to join in the discussion.
You can see lots of our past archived streams over in our YouTube playlist or even all livestreams here on UploadVR and various other gameplay highlights. There’s lots of good stuff there so make sure and subscribe to us on YouTube to stay up-to-date on gameplay videos, video reviews, live talk shows, interviews, and more original content.
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