Lost Cities VR has been submitted to the Gear VR app store!
- by John Luxford
Yesterday just after 5pm, we officially submitted Lost Cities to the Gear VR app store! Here's one of the screenshots we submitted with the game (more below):
Lost Cities is our very first game, so this is a huge moment for us as a VR company. Right off the bat, we'd like give a massive thank you to the whole team for your amazing work. Landon, Ryan, Graham, Sam, Liem, Olaf, Steve, and Nolan, you guys came along with us to make something beautiful and fun in a very short time frame. Campfire couldn't have done it without all of you believing in our vision for this game, and that means a lot to us.
We'd also like to take a moment to reflect on the experience of making Lost Cities.
How we ended up making Lost Cities
Last spring, we were talking about what kind of game we'd like to make as our first game. We're all fans of tabletop gaming, and due to the lack of positional tracking on the Gear VR that style of game seemed like a natural fit for the platform. So we started looking at tabletop games for ideas.
What we found was that most tabletop games for one reason or another present substantial challenges in being adapted to VR; too many pieces to select and move, legibility issues on current VR screens, requiring 3-5 players, the list goes on.
We ended up short listing just a handful of games that we thought had potential, with Lost Cities at the top, and right then a bit of serendipity happened. Before going to GDC last year, we were talking with Jay Powell of The Powell Group who was helping us make connections as first-timers to the conference, and in conversation it turned out that he knew Reiner Knizia, the creator of Lost Cities, and put us in touch.
Reiner Knizia and his team were very receptive of our concept, and great to work with. We ended up pulling the trigger on making Lost Cities into a VR game just before leaving for GDC, which gave us double cause to celebrate in San Fransisco (we also turned 1 year old at that time).
Lost Cities as a VR experience
We got asked this more than a few times since we started making the game: Why a board game in VR?
Lost Cities has a great theme that gave us lots to work with and imagine in a VR context. And it's a fun game that Lux has been playing for more than 12 years now, so we knew the replayability was there. The game lends itself naturally to building immersive worlds around each of the 5 expeditions (Desert Sands, Neptune's Realm, Himalayan Mountains, Ancient Volcano, and Brazilian Rainforest), and also allows for crafting Indiana Jones-style narrative elements too.
All of that informed our decisions around the time period, visual style, the music, and even the ways we created affordances to fit some of the UI elements more naturally into the scenes. For example, the settings panel, the door, and especially the map in the explorer's study, which we used as the lobby of the game.
We shipped Lost Cities with just one of the scenes (Desert Sands), choosing to focus on a polished core game over quantity of content. We put a ton of work into the tutorial and lobby scene too, and are very happy with the results.
We don't have an exact release date yet (we're working with Oculus on an ideal release that doesn't just get buried under the holiday sales), so we'll keep you posted on that.
Next up, we're working on the remaining scenes over the next few months, as well as multiplayer capabilities, so stay tuned for those too.
Lost Cities taught us a lot about games, user interfaces in VR, peoples' expectations of the world around them, as well as keeping a team (11 in total!) focused on the same vision to craft something special. I'm sure we'll have more posts reflecting on that stuff in the future too.
Thanks for reading and celebrating with us. We're really proud of the results of everyone's hard work, and we can't wait to reveal it to the whole (virtual) world soon!
– Rachael, Lesley & John