In this issue of Mr. PSVR’s Interview Corner, we take a closer look at 1976 – Back to Midway from Ivanovich Games. A game that brings the nostalgia and gives us a new perspective on a familiar series while opening the doors to welcome us into Virtual Reality.
Interview with the founder of Ivanovich Games, Ivan Cascales
Welcome to The PlayStation Brahs. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at Ivanovich Games?
“Nice to share with you for a while. I’m Ivan Cascales. 11 years ago, I decided to found Ivanovich Games: A small video game studio in Barcelona that for almost 6 years has been focused on virtual reality. Which I love!”
Ivanovich Games has had made some really fun and interesting VR games with titles like Sea of Memories, Beat Blaster, Pangman, Touring Karts, and Operation Warcade. What do you feel is the working formula for Virtual Reality?
“Yes… We already have a few VR titles. Even though the games are of wildly diverse genres. We always try to be original and provide direct fun, avoiding slow learning curves. I think that the casual-arcade approach can be our formula.”
With Operation Warcade you brought nostalgia into VR. Your newest game 1976 – Back to Midway recently released on Steam and also has the magic of nostalgia as well. What can you tell us about the game?
Yes … “1976 Back to midway” is a tribute to “1943: The Battle of Midway” in the same way that “Operation warcade” is a tribute to “Operation Wolf” and “Pangman” is a tribute to “Pang“.(Buster Bros) The truth is that we love the formula of starting from well-known classic gameplay and “reinventing it” thanks to VR. In the specific case of 1943, it was very fun to design levels of a classic shoot’em up but adding, on the one hand, the depth in various parts of the game and on the other hand combining it with the “immersion zones” where the player is completely transported immersive within the video game. It is one of these things about virtual reality that is hard to describe in words. That is why we have put a free demo on steam ;).”
I do really like the time aspect of being able to go back to correct the events of the past, but adding the comedy of new events that take place. Was the idea of bringing 1976 always going to involve time?
“Yes …. Traveling back in time and changing the course of history is cool. Truth? It is also a nod to the mental journey that those who already have age and know the original game. Thanks to this game, we really also travel to our childhood, so we have a double trip in time. In any case, we always keep the script within a sympathetic line, full of crazy humor that does not detract from the fun playing experience’s importance.”
Thank you for adding controller support as a different option which works very well. What other options are available to use while playing?
“Yes … We have the “mania” of always adding many control options. In this game, you can play in any of is
1) With a traditional controller (Xbox, ps4, etc.) or even with a Hotas controller.
2) With a VR controller using the joystick on the controller.
3) Taking the joystick of the plane with the virtual hand in a natural way.
4) Mix between 2 and 3. My favorite: In the arcade, you use the joystick on the controller, but in the immersion zones, you use your real hand, which provides a greater immersion.”
The action within the game is simple, yet effective. I really like the two different immersion zones that are on each level. Were there some different views in the zones that were going to be used but didn’t make it in the final game?
“Yes, yes … We tested several different game modes for the immersion zones. For example, we had a mode where played in the first-person view, but the plane was controlled how it is controlled from the arcade (Forward / backward instead of up / down). The truth is that the result was curious. But finally, we selected only the ones that worked best. Discarding those that made you dizzy or whose operation was not entirely intuitive requires an extra learning curve.”
When you look at a game like 1976, was there something that just spoke to you that made you think it would be perfect for VR?
“The sense of depth suits the shoot-em-up genre very well. The third dimension that can only be achieved thanks to VR is something you have that cannot be explained, but it is very “wow.”
I really like how the leaderboards are implemented, how important was it to include them in the game?
“Yes! Like any good tribute to the arcade genre, having a list of records to climb on is always rewarding. All of our retro-VR games have leaderboards and are very challenging.”
What do you feel are the most important things to consider when it comes to the graphics and sound when it comes to developing for VR?
“Both in the graphic and in the sound section we have tried to be realism and spectacularity.
We use Fmod with a 3D spatial sound that provides a feeling of brutal realism for the sounds. We differentiating the sound heard in the arcade from that heard in the immersion areas. When you come down to “reality,” everything sounds much more real. You can clearly distinguish where the sound of airplanes is coming from. I am pleased with Ricardo’s level, our sound technician in this section, and it helps a lot to get you mentally into the action.”
With the Steam version being released, do we have dates on when the Oculus and PlayStation VR versions will be released?
“The version for Oculus Rift is currently being validated. I guess it will be ready shortly. The Playstation version is also almost finished. But we will have to wait for Sony’s validation, which is usually relatively slow. I estimate that March or April will be the publication date.
Will there also be an Oculus Quest/Quest 2 version be in the works as well?
“We have the version for Quest and Quest 2 also almost ready. But Oculus, as usual, has not given us permission to publish it in its official store. I do not understand how an original and quality game like this one, which has excellent press reviews and ratings on Steam close to 100%, cannot be of interest to Oculus. But here we can’t do anything :-(.”
Any plans on bringing 1976 – Back to Midway to Viveport in the future?
“In the viveport store, yes. In fact, we just published it. Not in viveport infinite at the moment.”
Dr. Ivanovich is such a great character. Can we expect to see him in future adventures with Ivanovich Games?
“We are delighted with how a character with charisma and very crazy has turned out. It fits very well with the type of game we make, and yes … as we also love to make winks and references intertwining our universe’s games, we are preparing more content where it appears.”
What would be the top three things you would tell your younger self?
“I have been wholly dedicated to my passion, videogames, for 11 years. But before this, I spent about 10 years of programming in the business sector because I did not know that I could dedicate myself to this. Without a doubt, the first thing I would say is: Go ahead and dedicate yourself to what you are really passionate about! I would also have liked to know which games we have made would be better to clearly bet on them and discard those that have not been enjoyed so much. But that would be cheating, don’t you think? Finally, I would travel even further back and tell my 15-year-old self: Don’t worry about these hours that you are “spending” with video games. You are actually creating a positive background in you that years later will allow you to create authentic time travel machines to let those other people you see near you can, thanks to nostalgia, relive that feeling.”
With the Virtual Reality library continuing to grow, what would you say to someone on why they should experience 1976 – Back to Midway?
“1976 follows the line of our latest releases: It brings immediate action with high doses of humor and nostalgia. But above all, it includes a very studied learning curve that allows anyone to enjoy it from the first minute without the need for tutorials. When in doubt: Download the demo, which is free ;-).”
I really want to thank Ivan for taking the time from his schedule and day to give us a closer look at 1976 – Back to Midway and for also talking about Virtual Reality.
1976 – Back to Midway is coming is coming to PlayStation VR on July 8, 2021.
Also, check out the 1976 – Back to Midway review.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.