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Twilight Pioneers Interview: How Netease Games Made Their First Mobile VR Game

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At Netease Games' Insight of Fun talkshop 2017, Twilight Pioneers Producer Yu Kai shared his stories and the challenges of developing the company's first mobile VR game. 2P.com had the opportunity to interview Yu Kai at the event.
 
Twilight Pioneers has released on Google's Daydream platform, and what do you think the game do so far? Is it in your expectation?
The game is popular among players and ranked top in VR Game download list on Daydream. We don't have a lot of players now according to the download number, and we are focusing on hardcore gamers at the moment. There were many comments from players, and some said they don't have motion sickness playing the game, some other said the game showed the potential power of Daydream platform, and some said that's what mobile VR game should look like. We felt inspired after reading the comments, because we thought that's the difference between making a mobile game for domestic market and global market. Players have been very active by offering us useful feedback and writing us emails. They will keep providing us feedback after they got our respond.
 

What's plan of releasing new updates for the game? Is there going to be any new features?
The game will release the second story chapter later this season. Because of the slow developing progression, players have been waiting for a long time for the update. To thank and compensate the passionate players, we'll release all future chapters for free. In the new chapter players will explore a completely different area called The Evilgate, where players will face new enemies and bosses.
 
Many games are released for Gear VR first and then get HTC Vive and Oculus Rift version. Do you have the plan to release Twilight Pioneers on other VR platforms?
The game is exclusively released for Daydream platform so currently there's no such plan.
 
Will you reveal a new VR game this year?
We started developing Twilight Pioneers in early 2016, and we had studied the VR industry since 2014. Now we are focusing on Twilight Pioneers and we don't have plan to make another game. However, I can tell you that many other teams in Netease Games are discussing a lot about VR with us. 
 

Why do you choose Google's Daydream platform?
We believe mobile VR has a huge potential user base, and it's very important for us to get into the general VR market. For most people, they will choose mobile VR as the first step into the VR world. From what we see in the recent few years, we think mobile VR is going more mature in smartphone specs and resolutions. We considered which mobile platform has better eco-system and user-friendly & developer-friendly experience, and we chose Daydream. It's the best mobile VR platform in our opinions and that's why we decide to develop games exclusively for it. Nonetheless, as content provider we do hope there will be more great platforms. 
 
 How do you make Twilight Pioneers' narrative and interaction a unique experience?
Players can move freely in the game, thus they may feel confused and don't know what to do next. It's caused by many different factors, and sometimes it's the lack of tutorials, and sometimes it's that players can't follow the tutorials or choose to neglect them intentionally or unintentionally. In Twilight Pioneers, we create a lot of leads to direct players such as lights, bridges, or character voices. VR games aren't like PC and mobile games in terms of tutorials, so we summarize a rule: there must be 2 dynamic leads and a traditional lead to guide each of players' actions.
 
An example is a player's gaming experience shown in the video below (from 5:20 to 6:10)


 
In the video, the lights and bridge are dynamic leads that keep attracting players' attention. NPC, on the other hand, keeps talking to the player until he finally makes the right action and doesn't miss any key points in the story. The player in the video notices the lights and the dragon, and at the same time he realizes that the female NPC will rescue him. This is a very important scene in the game, because it tells player how they obtain the power of dragon.
 
And take a look at another video from 4:10 to 5:15.


 
The Youtuber in the video misses this important scene because he pays too much attention to the female NPC and ignores the dragon, and eventually he doesn't understand why he's saved by the NPC. We didn't expect that and we decided to fix it. Perhaps we will require players to interact with the NPC and then awake the dragon. We think by doing so he won't miss this scene anymore.
 
In terms of interaction, we designed UI, movement, and combat based on the concept of making traditional video game. However, we found it could offer the optimized experience for mobile VR gamers. We made a change immediately and communicated with Google frequently to polish the game. During the development we didn't stop looking at the VR industry to see how it developed. We finally had the interaction system as you can see in the game now after studying lots of player feedback and releasing many patch updates. We tried 6 versions of UI and ran 3 focused tests to improve the game.
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You!
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