Arcadia VR: Creating Immersive VR Experiences

Arcadia VR CEO Vladimir Varenik discussed why the company chose to center on VR projects, told about the studio's flagship title, and shared what challenges developers who create games for VR could face.

Arkadia VR Please, introduce yourself and your team. Could you tell us how and when did you launch the studio? What were your aims?

Vladimir Varenik: I'm Vladimir Varenik, CEO of Arcadia VR, the VR-game development company in London, UK. Everything started with the LBE space called Arcadia in 2019. We had an excellent idea to make our own game, and that's how we came up with Spheroom, a multiplayer PvP shooter for up to nine players. It was a really cool and immersive game, but when the COVID outbreak started, we realized that we needed to go digital.

We didn't know how to do it, and we learned everything from scratch. In 2020, we launched a game studio and began to work on our first game, Hinge, a psychological horror adventure. That was quite a ride! We faced many challenges, especially on the technical side of the process. It was a great experience, even if it wasn't what we expected. 

Virtual Reality Why did you decide to choose VR projects as your main focus? What makes this path perfect for you?

Vladimir Varenik: As I mentioned earlier, we started with the virtual reality project. Most of our teams previously worked in this field before, and games were our passion as a part of our childhood, so we mixed everything and got what we have now: a VR-game development studio. We are fortunate to make what we love. 

The team has a strong opinion that VR is our future. You can see how virtual reality finds its way to practically every side of our lives: medicine, education, and of course, entertainment. It's an honor to jump on this train to the future and provide the audience with quality and fun stuff. 

Requisition VR What are your current projects? Could you discuss your main title?

Vladimir Varenik: We are working on a significant title called Requisition VR. It's an online co-op survival game in the best tradition of the zombie apocalypse genre. I think we came up with what later became a killer feature – an unbelievable craft system.

Imagine yourself in the zombie apocalypse. What comes to your mind first? You need shelter, a stack of food, water, and of course, weapons. So, instead of a dull ax or a gun, you grab cannon, books, pieces of furniture, shovel, electric drill, and craft your way out to survival with the bizarre weapons. The player could combine over 300 objects to create the different weapons with a million possible combinations.

The game has both single-player and multiplayer modes, which is a great way to spend some time alone and survive on a single map or gather your friends or random players to play against each other. This April, we plan to release an early acces version with two modes: Short Session and Home Alone. 

Short Session is a survival mode on a single map. Home Alone is the most interesting one. In my opinion, the player needs to defend his house from other players in multiplayer mode. It takes much imagination to create different traps and ways to fight opponents: from making a flour bomb to book canon. The famous movie definitely inspired that mode. 

Besides, Raid will see the light of day in the released version of the game at the end of the year. I also want to add that we decided to implement melee combat which is not usual for VR games, but this allows players to smash zombies' heads and have a great time! 

Launching VR Titles What are the main peculiarities of developing VR titles? How long does it usually take to launch such a game? What are the challenges?

Vladimir Varenik: Everything starts with the team and brainstorming. Of course, it was something new to us, but we knew we had everything to make a decent game. We built a team of professionals from the start, people who knew about the VR and game development industries. We made our first game, Hinge, in six months. Of course, it has its rough edges, but this experience showed us the challenges of making a VR game.

That's experience, and that's what's important, even if it's a bad one. We took a little bit more time to make Requisition VR and also decided to release it in early access to get important feedback from players and make a decent final version. It's a good case to see that you don't need to expect 100% success with your first game. 

VR Tech How do you use new tech and advancements in hand tracking, markerless capture, full-body capture, etc? Do you think it's more important to focus on general headsets or take time to study new tech?

Vladimir Varenik: I would say we are already at the forefront of innovative technologies. That says a lot about our ambitions and desire to create content using new technologies. The main issue here is that not everything is available for players. For instance, when something like full-body tracking without additional markers is available, we integrate this technology into our games. We are thinking in the direction of game content using hand tracking, especially fingers, but at some point, we tried ready-made content. After trying this technology in one of our games, we realized that it was not ready for a full-fledged VR experience. 

That's why we use technologies that already work – they work without errors and provide deeper and more exciting immersion in virtual worlds. 

Challenges What are the main challenges and bottlenecks of VR developers, in your opinion? How would you evaluate the VR market?

Vladimir Varenik: I would say it's an exciting path to follow but of course, being a VR-game development studio is a tough choice. 

Let's talk about the target audience and tech side of the question. Almost everyone has a PC and has a phone, mobile, and PC game developers can easily find their target with a good marketing strategy. There are almost 28 million users on Steam, and only around 15 million people own headsets. 

The VR market is narrow, and you have to be careful to find your audience. You can say that it's a very concerning segment because it's not as popular as the PC or console market. So, I believe we can call ourselves experimenters. 

Roadmap What's your current roadmap? When will we hear from you again? What are your goals for the next year?

Vladimir Varenik: For now, our primary focus is Requisition. Our team fully concentrates on this project, and sometimes we even spend the night in the office to make sure everything will be on time. First of all, we need to show everything at early access. We will perform a closed beta test to gather valuable users' feedback. We will work on hotfixes.

That's why we constantly hire people for the team. For example, our QA team got a new specialist. We have 30 people in the team, including artists, programmers, game designers, and the marketing department. We will work very thoroughly till the release at the end of 2022. 

But of course, we have plans. We are working on a draft for a new game. I hope you will hear about it very soon.

Vladimir Varenik, CEO at Arcadia VR

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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