1. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    I absolutely adore Quill and love what I played in the Moss VR demo. And I have to quickly mention one of my favorite moments, when I didn't realize I had to spin the central tower in the final puzzle, Moss, with squeaks and hand gestures, explained to me what I needed to do. I was dying! So so so good!

    Question: With so many creative options for developers making VR games, and many opting for first-person experiences, what made you decide on the direction you did with Moss and what we're some of the gameplay options you considered before picking the final direction?
    Tam Armstrong, Studio Director: Thanks for playing the demo, and we're glad that you noticed Quill's hint! It has been fun working with her. One of the many things we learned as we've built Moss is that it is enjoyable when Quill understands more about what is going on in the game than you do as the player. This situation really reinforces that you are playing the game together, as equals, with complementary abilities.

    To answer your question: We started prototype development in VR by first trying to outline what we felt the basic principles of a good VR game would be. We wanted to make sure we would build a game that was good for VR natively. Another way to say it would be that we aimed to build a game that could really only meet its full potential in VR.

    Specifically this means we decided on three things:

    1) The game and mechanics needed to require real tactile physical interaction. That is not something you can do with a traditional flatscreen game.
    2) The player should be a character in the game, not a camera. This means that other characters in the game and the environment need to react to you.
    3) The game should be very comfortable for as many people as possible. With this in mind we wanted to make sure we were not flying the camera around and otherwise making people feel bad.

    The combination of these things is how we ended up with Moss. We wanted a game where the gameplay occurred in a space you could reach with your arms. We didn't want to move the camera around to make that happen, which meant the world should be small. And finally, we wanted a character in that space to acknowledge you and play the game with you, which meant that character also needed to be small. This is how we ended up with Quill in the game Moss!
    DerrickDover likes this.
    11-16-2017 11:39 AM
  2. Gidorick's Avatar
    [QUOTE=PolyarcGames;66693]
    Is Quill modeled after a specific mouse species?

    Chris Alderson - Art Director: Not just one! I looked to a few different types of mice, but landed on only a couple to drive Quill’s final aesthetic. Your standard field mouse, because I love how adorable and small they are, as well as a few others that influenced her colors and markings. The first Quill sketch referenced the Jerboa. Fun fact: Quill was actually a thief and a grumpy old man in her first incarnation.
    I thought maybe she was a Jerboa, because of the ears... but then her legs aren't the same. So she's an amalgam of sorts. Good call and great design. I think she would make a great mascot character for PSVR.
    DerrickDover likes this.
    11-16-2017 11:40 AM
  3. Gidorick's Avatar
    [QUOTE=PolyarcGames;66695]
    Is Quill a special mouse or are all of her kind able to walk, craft weapons, communicate, etc?

    Chris Alderson, Art Director: Quill’s world is full of rodents, just like her, all with different stories and personalities. And not all of them are mice! Gerbils, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, and many more all reside in the world of Moss. On top of that, we introduce a few mystical creatures along the way...
    This is so great! Please tell me there's at least ONE little rodent character with a bow and arrow!!
    DerrickDover likes this.
    11-16-2017 11:43 AM
  4. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    Your team members have worked on some seriously high-profile games in the past, but was there much experience with VR before Moss? What were some unique challenges you encountered?
    Tam Armstrong, Studio Director: In general, our experience with VR before Moss was minimal. A few of us got some experience by doing work at Oculus very early on. That was a great time, but it was for a relatively short duration (6 weeks and change). The exception is one of our engineers, Brendan Walker, had some deep AR experience from his time at the HITLab. There he worked on, among other things, virtual user interfaces. He started out working on Moss already familiar with many of the technologies we depend on.

    The biggest challenge that comes to mind is that we have had to develop a new set of skills that hasn't been quite as important to game developers in the past. A lot of what we do now could potentially be considered industrial design. We need to design the physical objects in our game in a way that communicates to the player how they need to interact with them inherently, above and beyond prompts and text from more traditional UI. This means we've built new systems for managing these interactions.

    The next biggest challenge is to rethink everything in terms of reachable space. A lot of what typically happens in a game happens pretty far away from the player. In Moss, almost everything that happens needs to happen close enough to reach out and touch it directly. There are always exceptions, but this means the volume we have to work in is a constraint.

    We prefer to think about constraints as forcing functions for creativity, and working on Moss has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.
    Cale Hunt likes this.
    11-16-2017 11:48 AM
  5. Cale Hunt's Avatar
    Tam Armstrong, Studio Director: In general, our experience with VR before Moss was minimal. A few of us got some experience by doing work at Oculus very early on. That was a great time, but it was for a relatively short duration (6 weeks and change). The exception is one of our engineers, Brendan Walker, had some deep AR experience from his time at the HITLab. There he worked on, among other things, virtual user interfaces. He started out working on Moss already familiar with many of the technologies we depend on.

    The biggest challenge that comes to mind is that we have had to develop a new set of skills that hasn't been quite as important to game developers in the past. A lot of what we do now could potentially be considered industrial design. We need to design the physical objects in our game in a way that communicates to the player how they need to interact with them inherently, above and beyond prompts and text from more traditional UI. This means we've built new systems for managing these interactions.

    The next biggest challenge is to rethink everything in terms of reachable space. A lot of what typically happens in a game happens pretty far away from the player. In Moss, almost everything that happens needs to happen close enough to reach out and touch it directly. There are always exceptions, but this means the volume we have to work in is a constraint.

    We prefer to think about constraints as forcing functions for creativity, and working on Moss has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.
    A+ answer, thank you very much!
    PolyarcGames likes this.
    11-16-2017 11:50 AM
  6. TrueLink's Avatar
    Hello Polyarc! Thank you for doing this AMA.

    I'm really interested in the development challenges and time costs for VR games. What unexpected challenges did you run into during development? Also, were there any tools existent to manage things like camera control with the PSVR in place when Moss development began or did you have to build everything from scratch?

    PS: Will those Quill figured be available for sale later?
    Gidorick and PolyarcGames like this.
    11-16-2017 11:50 AM
  7. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    Can you talk about inspirations behind the music in Moss? Were there any challenges in using spatial audio throughout the game?
    Stephen Hodde, Audio Director: We're focusing on Quill's emotional journey to inspire the musical score for Moss. It's a gentler, richer score than most modern video games, and I think we're in the process of making music that will give Moss its own unique voice. We're looking forward to talking more about music with you guys before launch.

    Regarding spatial audio, the challenge is to find a balance between how sound works in nature and the evoking of more abstract feelings. For example, the feeling you get when you enter forest during the dawn chorus isn't always captured by recording that forest with a microphone. So really, the challenge is to know when to push sound into the realm of feeling, how far, and when to rely on more realistic sound reproduction.

    Luckily Sony has devoted a lot of hardware power to recreating the physical model of how sound passes over your head, referred to as a HRTF (link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-r...nsfer_function). This makes it much easier to create sounds that behave realistically in real time.
    Gidorick and DerrickDover like this.
    11-16-2017 11:51 AM
  8. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    Was it a consious choice to create separate instances of each puzzle instead of a more traditional side scroll?
    Danny Bulla, Design Director: One of the core goals when designing Moss was to make it as comfortable as possible for players, and one way to achieve that was looking at camera placement. To ensure players didn't get sick when playing Moss, we found a fixed camera position worked best for our style of gameplay.
    11-16-2017 11:52 AM
  9. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    Hi Polyarc!

    My girlfriend and I both got a chance to play the Moss demo at PAX West a few months ago (and we were lucky enough to find one of Quill figurines.) We pre-ordered a couple weeks ago and can't wait for it to come out!

    What's your favorite part of designing a game for VR as opposed to a normal game? How has the design of the game changed over development?
    Where did you find Quill at PAX West?
    11-16-2017 12:00 PM
  10. gunny15's Avatar
    With the explosion of VR over the last year or so, we've seen some pretty impressive "first person" games emerge, like Batman, Driveclub, RE7, etc. Moss takes it a step further by adding another element, while seemingly keeping the first-person aspect intact. What inspired Polyarc to that end, and do you anticipate future VR games from other developers to follow suit?
    11-16-2017 12:00 PM
  11. SwiftNinjaFox's Avatar
    Was there anything that inspired Moss and Quill's final incarnation in particular? When I first saw the game, my first thought was Redwall and Mossflower Woods. There's also the MouseGuard series. Were there any fictional works or other games that influenced and inspired the team while creating Quill, her world, and her adventure?
    11-16-2017 12:06 PM
  12. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    This is such a simple question, but what is the workflow for creating these characters? I love seeing them, but I don't get how much work it takes.
    Chris Alderson, Art Director: It might be a simple question, but it’s a great one! A lot of planning and teamwork go into creating a great character. First off, we ask ourself this question, “why am I making this character and what is its purpose.” With Quill, before she was a mouse we knew we needed a character that the player can interact with in VR within a reachable space. We had already decided that we wanted you, the player to be true to scale, so it was either action figures or small animals. We landed on rodents and small creatures because it allows us to build a connection to these characters and the world around them. VR is a new and special medium. Like never before, you can have a connection and build a relationship with these characters that are standing right there in front of you. Connection is the word we keep coming back to and drove Quill’s look and feel. Now to the drawing board. First off is the concept phase. Keeping in mind scale and having an emotional connection, we went through a few iterations. Just because we said we wanted our character to be relatable, doesn’t mean it will be without your care and consideration. I start off with a sketch that gives off the feel of what I am going for. And in no way does it need to be perfect from the start. Quill went through a few iterations as you can see below.
    AMA: Polyarc games is here to talk about Moss!-pasted-image-2017_11_16-09_59-am.jpg

    Next, I take the model to a simple “block model” stage (A block model is where you create a mesh for every bone in your character that you simply parent or connect each model to each bone. This is a quick and easy way to get the proportions you like by testing out a few poses.) Richard Lico, our Lead Animator and I have worked together for 13 years across 3 different studios, so we have built a great workflow and report. Once he takes a look, Richard might either move the mesh and skeleton himself or gives me detailed notes on things we can fix. Afterwards, we take the model to “grey model” stage where it’s much of the same process, except now the mesh is intact, and we have done a skin weighting pass where the mesh is bound smoothly to the skeleton. Now I pass it back over to Richard and he does another look over of the mesh. He might even do a quick animation test to make sure the character is performing dynamically. Here we can truly evaluate if the character is reaching our goals.
    AMA: Polyarc games is here to talk about Moss!-pasted-image-2017_11_16-10_00-am-1-.jpg

    Is Quill meeting her potential? Here we made another pass on the concept. And this is around the time when everyone in the studio was feeling the direction she was headed in.
    AMA: Polyarc games is here to talk about Moss!-pasted-image-2017_11_16-10_01-am.jpg

    I personally like to keep characters in the grey model stage for as long as possible, so that we can truly evaluate them within the game with real animations and performing real actions. Once you sculpt the final hi polygon model (via sculpting programs such as ZBrush), bake your maps (copy the detail lighting from your hi poly model onto a lower poly in-game model to create a normal map, specular/roughness or “shininess” map, etc.) and create your final textures, it can be much more difficult to make changes. When that’s all done, then Voila! You have a new character! Hope that helps give a little insight into what goes into creating these characters!

    AMA: Polyarc games is here to talk about Moss!-quill.jpg
    Last edited by PolyarcGames; 11-16-2017 at 12:30 PM.
    11-16-2017 12:07 PM
  13. ZeusApe's Avatar
    Where did you find Quill at PAX West?
    It was the very last Quill hidden before the show ended - it was nearby the Moss booth on a shelf by the Playlink games! I was standing in line for Detroit when I spotted it, and my girlfriend got there just in time to snag it before someone else. We were hunting them the whole day so it was easily our favorite moment of the whole show.
    SwiftNinjaFox and Gidorick like this.
    11-16-2017 12:10 PM
  14. TrueLink's Avatar
    Was there anything that inspired Moss and Quill's final incarnation in particular? When I first saw the game, my first thought was Redwall and Mossflower Woods. There's also the MouseGuard series.
    To add onto this, I thought of the board game Mice & Mystics. Quill's design reminded me of Collin in that game.
    11-16-2017 12:11 PM
  15. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    Hi Polyarc!

    My girlfriend and I both got a chance to play the Moss demo at PAX West a few months ago (and we were lucky enough to find one of Quill figurines.) We pre-ordered a couple weeks ago and can't wait for it to come out!

    What's your favorite part of designing a game for VR as opposed to a normal game? How has the design of the game changed over development?
    Chris Bourassa, Designer: I think my favorite part about developing a VR game verses a normal game is that it feels more personal. We get to fully immerse the player into the world we created and not tell a story at them but include them as a part of the story. The design has changed as we have dialed in on what we wanted the player experience to be. This could be figuring out what types of puzzles players would enjoy and what types of abilities the enemies should have. We tried a lot of things before we got to the demo you got to play at PAX West.
    11-16-2017 12:12 PM
  16. Russell Holly's Avatar
    Did the unique way PlayStation VR lets other people watch what the player is doing on a larger display influence the game design at all? Is this something friends will enjoy sitting and watching, or is this connection you're building really focused on the experience in the headset?
    11-16-2017 12:15 PM
  17. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    11-16-2017 12:18 PM
  18. Russell Holly's Avatar
    To add onto this, I thought of the board game Mice & Mystics. Quill's design reminded me of Collin in that game.
    I thought about this as well, having just recently played through that myself!
    11-16-2017 12:18 PM
  19. DerrickDover's Avatar
    "One of the many things we learned as we've built Moss is that it is enjoyable when Quill understands more about what is going on in the game than you do as the player. This situation really reinforces that you are playing the game together, as equals, with complementary abilities."

    - This concept is what made my experience with the demo so incredible. I was talking with my friend, who doesn't have PSVR, trying to explain my experience. One of the things I said was that it actually felt like a co-op experience. Like I was actually playing with Quill. Such an incredible feeling and really helped me to bond with Quill.

    "...The player should be a character in the game, not a camera. This means that other characters in the game and the environment need to react to you."

    - I thought this was a brilliant move. Like a hybrid of 3rd and 1st person. Both being the player AND interacting with Quill made the whole experience so immersive.

    "The game should be very comfortable for as many people as possible. With this in mind we wanted to make sure we were not flying the camera around and otherwise making people feel bad."

    - I really appreciated this aspect. There are other games that I really liked, like Star Child, but some of those games left me a little uncomfortable due to the motion. There was never a moment in Moss where I I felt any discomfort playing.

    I absolutely can't wait to play with Quill some more. Best of luck to your whole team!
    Gidorick and PolyarcGames like this.
    11-16-2017 12:22 PM
  20. pkcable's Avatar
    Polyarc Games, what's in a name? How did you come up with the name of your company? Does it stand for anything? Is there a funny story behind it? Or did you guys just pull a name out of a hat? lol
    11-16-2017 12:37 PM
  21. gunny15's Avatar
    One of my favorite things is exploration. I love all the little details in the game's environment. Can we expect any type of collectibles or Easter eggs along the way in Moss?
    DerrickDover and pkcable like this.
    11-16-2017 12:38 PM
  22. DaRick42's Avatar
    When I tried the demo I loved the atmosphere of this game. The forest and the temple were beautifully made. But at this point, it looks like the game will mostly play at this temple in the forest. But does the game also plays in any other environments?
    11-16-2017 12:39 PM
  23. PolyarcGames's Avatar
    What elements are most important to create an emotional connection between Quill and the player? Why do you think connections to characters can be stronger in VR? What emotions do you want to evoke in players with Moss?
    Rick Lico, Animation Director: For me, it comes down to one rule "Be Genuine". If we approach Quill's performance with honesty in everything we do, players will be able to relate to her in the same way they would with a friend. The way she moves around needs to feel real. Her emotions, both positive and negative, need to feel raw. Her combat actions need to feel empowering yet vulnerable. And the player needs to see her thinking. Like she’s trying to solve a puzzle with you as your partner. VR makes this much easier to accomplish. When you're inside the world with Quill, the '4th wall' doesn't exist. She can address you as a person, and treat you as an equal. You can reach out and touch her, you feel her heartbeat. We want the player to feel a range of emotions, just like they would with a friend.

    We’re continuing to find new ways to connect Quill with the player, which you’ll get a chance to experience in the full game. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but we hope you’ll enjoy interacting with her.

    Here are a few examples:
    Quill Air Attack:
    https://forums.vrheads.com/e?link=ht...token=-foewkDU
    A Hoist, Matey!:
    https://forums.vrheads.com/e?link=ht...token=8Caiqu-p
    What's in the bag?:
    https://forums.vrheads.com/e?link=ht...token=p7EzvuMJ
    Quill Idle Itch:
    https://forums.vrheads.com/e?link=ht...token=qDSRZn7q
    11-16-2017 12:40 PM
  24. Gidorick's Avatar
    We’re continuing to find new ways to connect Quill with the player, which you’ll get a chance to experience in the full game. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but we hope you’ll enjoy interacting with her.
    I think I spent more time in the first area of the Moss demo petting and playing with Quill than the rest of the demo. The relationship that is being built between the player and Quill is enchanting. I expect other VR games to take inspiration from your design decisions.
    11-16-2017 12:45 PM
  25. Jen Karner's Avatar
    I love how adorable Quill is, and I've been in love with her since seeing the first trailer. Are there other adorable characters we'll meet while adventuring with her?

    What about enemies? I'm so fascinated by anthropomorphized characters in games, and Quill has such an expressive face that I hope she isn't the only one I'll be plahying with.
    11-16-2017 12:48 PM
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