With The Lost Bear releasing on PlayStation VR, I have been intrigued by the art style that was being used and how that would really carry over to VR. I was also interested in the story being told with Walnut and wanted to find out more. Odd Bug Studio, the Developing Team for The Lost Bear, stepped up, willing to answer all my questions and they did not disappoint.
What were some of the influences for The Lost Bear?
“The Lost Bear had a number of different influences. From a video game point of view, it was games like Playdead’s Limbo and Inside as well as Oddworld Abe’s Odyssey and Penrose Studios Allumette. We were also inspired by movies such as Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro as both those films really work hard to create a believable world whilst telling a short simple story. Another thing that influenced us was Eastern European puppetry which really helped to define our animation style.”
How long has The Lost Bear been in development?
“The Lost Bear has been in development for the last six months and has had a small team of about 12 people working on it. However before this it initially started life as our game directors university project, so a lot of time has been spent on creating a believable world and story as well as a unique art style.”
How was it creating a 2D environment and bringing it into a 3D immersive world of VR?
“It was a challenge, we went through a lot of ideas. In the end, placing the 2D game in a box/Theater allowed us to separate the two worlds, but also make them feel united because of the immersive changing theater environment. We spend a long time finding a style for the 3D diorama that would work well with the 2D game, in the end, we decided on a sort of semi cell-shaded look with textures in the same hand painted style as the 2D assets.”
What were some of the more challenging levels that you were not expecting when coming up with The Lost Bear?
“One of the most challenging things when creating The Lost Bear was drawing the players attention. Most people focus solely on the theater screen in front of them so we had to work really hard with the audio and pacing of the game to draw the players attention to something happening in the 3D space. An example of this would be the cliff scene, we had to work hard and iterate a lot on the audio and animation of the bug so that players would follow it around the room.”
Were there some previous ideas for the game that were scrapped while making the game that now you feel would actually have been a good fit?
“With no other 2D VR platformers to reference there was a lot of time spent concepting ideas for mechanics. Many of them had to be chucked away if they felt too intrusive on Walnuts story or were too complicated to tell the player without using words. However, we did have designs for other creatures to populate the world of The Lost Bear that if we had time would have been awesome to include in the final game.”
How is it working with PlayStation VR compared to others?
“Working in any form of VR has many unique challenges. VR is so new that there are not many rules for what does and does not work, this means spending a lot of time inside a headset working on mechanics. The PSVR headsets are super comfortable so it’s more of a pleasure to wear those other headsets. Another good thing about PSVR is that it has the largest user base which means we are able to get Walnuts story to as many players as possible.”
Is there a certain genre that you thought would not transfer over to VR well, that once you attempted it, was very surprised how well it actually looked and worked?
“At the moment it’s hard to say what genre of games do and don’t work in VR. Most people told us that ‘2D games won’t work in VR’ or ‘what’s the point of VR in a 2D game’, but we like to think that we took on the constraints of a 2D VR game and made something enjoyable to play from it. We think the real potential of VR is in its immersion so we would love to see games take that and run with it. One of our favorite VR games is Sigtrap’s Sub Level Zero, if you haven’t played it then you should definitely give it a go. A game that we’re really excited for is Polyarc’s Moss as that seems to have worked hard on its immersion and the player’s connection to its protagonist.”
About how long would you say is The Lost Bear and are there any trophies that are challenging for the Trophy Hunters out there?
“The Lost Bear is just over an hour long as we wanted to create a short polished experience that players could enjoy in one sitting. Unfortunately, there is no platinum trophy, however, there are a number of hidden trophies that may keep players playing through a couple of times.”
Any plans for any future DLC or possible a new tale within The Lost Bear world?
“At the moment there are no plans for any DLC or new adventures for Walnut but it would be nice to visit the world of the Lost Bear again in the future!”
Any future projects for PlayStation VR that can be discussed at this time that we can look forward to?
“We are already working on our next project which will also be 2D and in a similar art style to the Lost Bear. Fabrik is also working on their next project too, so keep your eyes and ears open for details!”
I really want to thank the team at Odd Bug Studio for taking time out of their day to give us a more insight on The Lost Bear, their thoughts on VR and what they do. The Lost Bear will be out soon for PlayStation VR and you will not want to miss it.
Until then, please enjoy…