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Movement in the Third Dimension — An Interview With 3dRudder

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At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2016, a start-up company called 3dRudder first showed off a new product that aimed to solve the problem of how to move in a virtual reality (VR) environment.

The question of movement in VR has long been a thorny one, with many users experiencing severe nausea from motion sickness, particularly when using the usual video game movement models of smooth locomotion. Many developers turned to using teleportation as a movement option, but some users say this breaks the immersion.

The 3dRudder system uses a foot pedal controller that appeared to offer a number of advantages for PC VR users, in that it allowed players to explore an expansive VR environment without needing to use teleport movement. 3dRudder also claims that the peripheral reduces motion sickness symptoms, as the feet are still involved in generating movement.

Cécile Valery, director of marketing and communication at 3dRudder, spoke to OnlySP about this year’s announcement that the 3dRudder would be coming to PlayStation VR.

OnlySP: Can you tell us a bit about your company and your product?

Cécile Valery: 3dRudder is a French start up founded in 2014 based in the South of France, Aix-en-Provence, with offices in the USA and representation in Japan. The flagship product of the same name, 3dRudder, is a foot-powered motion controller, providing the most immersive way to move in virtual reality, 360° environments, 3D and 2D. The company is about to launch the 3dRudder for PlayStation VR, worldwide.

OnlySP: How was the response to the 3dRudder at CES?

Cécile Valery: We’ve been attending CES since the very first year the company was created. We had already won four Innovation Awards in different fields and got rewarded with a fifth one this year for the 3dRudder for PlayStation VR. It was a memorable CES. We had lots of visitors, and did more than 900 demos of the 3dRudder for PlayStation VR.

OnlySP: The product has been available for PC for a while. Why have you decided to release a version for PlayStation VR?

Cécile Valery: The 3dRudder for PC has been on the market for 2 years. It can be used as a gaming controller for standard screens as well as for virtual reality. It actually is a perfect motion controller for VR as it enables full freedom of movement with no need for a specific set-up or dedicated space, while freeing up the hands for action. As PlayStation is the leader on the VR market for gaming, launching a PlayStation VR edition was a no-brainer.

OnlySP: Can you explain a little about how the 3dRudder works?

Cécile Valery: The 3dRudder is a foot-powered motion controller used seated. It has four ‘axes’: you can move forward/backward, left/right, rotate, and go up/down. It’s very simple to use: you just tilt the device the way you want to go. All four axes are combinable: just like in real life, if you want to move forward and go left, you can do it by simply tilting the device forward and to the left. And it’s a progressive device (analog) the more you tilt it, the faster you go. The 3dRudder has the reputation of being an intuitive peripheral: it has no button, and from the moment people put their feet on it, they need less than one minute to understand how to operate it.

OnlySP: What are the advantages to using a 3dRudder with the PSVR?

Cécile Valery: The 3dRudder grants you full freedom of movement on all platforms. It offers full motion control (you speed up, slow down, stop exactly you choose to, and go exactly where you want to), free locomotion (you move freely and seamlessly) and immersion (your hands are free to shoot, hit, grab objects…). It’s especially awaited on PlayStation VR, as you hear a lot of gamers complain about the lack of stick on the PS Move. Game studios still tried to implement free locomotion with the Move but it proves kind of tricky and unnatural. With the 3dRudder, you’ll be like in in real life: you’ll move with your feet and will have your hands free for action. And the icing on the cake is that you’ll be able to move and act simultaneously: highly convenient when it comes to dodging fire while attacking, strafing while shooting an arrow…

OnlySP: What sort of games and experiences does it work best with?

Cécile Valery: The 3dRudder is a very versatile controller that can be used to manage a wide array of movements: you can move your character, fly a plane, steer a boat, a spaceship, drive a tank, control your camera… It works perfectly fine with FPS, flight simulators, tactical shooters, exploration games… As long as the game has locomotion in it, the 3dRudder proves ideal to move.

OnlySP: Do you have any developers that have signed on to incorporate the peripheral into their projects?

Cécile Valery: Yes indeed! As the 3dRudder is a whole new peripheral in the PlayStation system, game studios need to add support for the 3dRudder to enable it in their games. We already have 20 PSVR games compatible, and expect to have up to 40 compatible at launch. We want players to have value for their money. Among the games that will have native support for the 3dRudder are titles such as Sairento, The Wizards Enhanced Edition, Ultra Wings, Bow to Blood… We cannot name them all as we’re under NDA with most game studios whose games are not out yet but I can tell you we’ll have exciting news to announce in the coming weeks.

See our website for the updated list.

OnlySP: When will this product be available, and how much will it cost?

Cécile Valery: The product will hit stores in May for US$119.

For more news and updates on 3dRudder and other gamer peripherals, keep checking back with OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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Interview

The Long Return Creates a Beautiful Aesthetic in Each Level — An Interview With Max Nielsen

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The Long Return is a beautiful third-person puzzle adventure game, following the story of an orphaned cub. The player explores hand crafted levels as the cub retraces the steps it once took with his mother. The Long Return’s level design is familiar yet still distinct and refreshing, taking inspiration from both new and old games to create this muted low poly feel.

This gorgeous, debut project is the work of solo developer Max Nielsen. Although he is currently finalising the game ahead of its release later this year, he took the time to talk to OnlySP to reflect and tell us more.


OnlySP: What inspired you to bring The Long Return to life? Was it an idea you were sitting on for a while or did it come on quite suddenly?

Nielsen: Actually, I never planned on releasing this game, or even finishing it. I had just quit my job at Microsoft and wanted to create a quick demo for my portfolio, so that I could apply for jobs in the industry. At the time I was working on a 2D RPG mostly for fun, and I knew I would need to make something in 3D for the bigger studios to give me a chance. So I decided to make a fairly simple demo with around 10 minutes of gameplay. However, while working on it, I got offered a job as an application consultant at a great company, and they said they would let me work on my own games and run my own company on the side, so I accepted the job and since then I have been working on this game as a hobby on my free time.

OnlySP: Each zone in The Long Return has such a pleasing aesthetic, how did you go about level design in a mostly natural world?

Nielsen: I am a huge Nintendo fan, Zelda OoT is still my favorite single player game ever, and I had just played through Zelda BotW, and wanted to create a world with a similar color palette and feel. After trying out a few different things I decided to use the low poly style because that would mean I could actually model some stuff by myself. I think I’ve gone through the level design of each zone in my game at least 10 times since I started, it’s crazy how much you learn just by trial and error (although time-consuming).

OnlySP: Will the game have a stronger focus on gameplay and location or story. Is The Long Return is a mix of the two?

Nielsen: Since the start I really wanted to tell a story without any words or text, and I have kept true to that. Instead I tell the story using memories and visuals. This does set certain limits to how gripping and detailed the story can be, especially when working with animals, but I think the message comes across quite well. The game is, at its core, a puzzle/adventure game, and you spend most of your time solving different puzzles and finding your way past obstacles, accompanied by an amazing original soundtrack that I still cannot believe is for my game.

OnlySP: Being your first big project game, what have you learned during development?

Nielsen: That list is incredibly long, and hopefully I can create a post-mortem detailing most of it. But I would say the main things I will take away from this project is:

– Plan, research and test; When starting out I kind of just created features for the game by trial and error, this leads to some really messy code. Nowadays I always make sure to properly plan, take notes, research best practices and test everything in a dev-environment before putting it in my game.
– Marketing is a necessary evil, even as a hobby developer with very limited time, I still don’t do enough of it, shame!
– It’s okay to take a day off, don’t burn out, it’s supposed to be fun!

OnlySP: Overall, how long has it taken for you to develop The Long Return?

Nielsen: Roughly a year. But I’ve been working on games for 4-5 years before that as a hobby.

OnlySP: Do you have any plans after The Long Return is released?

Nielsen: Big, BIG plans, haha. While I love this game and all I’ve learned, I am so excited to start my next project. It is much more “my type of game” and I have very high hopes for it. I won’t say too much yet, but it will combine my two favorite genres of single player games; RPG and city management.

The Long Return is set to release in August 2019.

For more interviews in the world of single-player gaming, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Also, be sure to join the discussion in the community Discord server.

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