VR INTERVIEW: Polyarc Games Talks About Moss (Part 2)

Friday, January 29th, 2021

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OR: Before we head into the wrap-up: what lessons, both good and bad, did you learn from creating Moss that you implemented into The Twilight Garden?

LD: There was a lot of feedback from players and media who played the original game. The main critique that we got was the length of the experience. People wanted more- and it wasn’t because it was short, [but] they were just so excited about the game and the immersiveness of the experience. They just wanted more of it.

So we realized after we launched Moss and we started to talk about Twilight Garden [that] this is a great way to treat them with the experience that they wanted. Just a little longer experience, a deeper storyline, and some enhanced combat, puzzle interaction, and gear selection- as well as adding more background to the narrative itself. But we also leveled up our interaction with Quill and the other characters in the world. There’s a built-in high-five celebration moment with Quill as she progresses through the new content, you can fist bump the toad, which is pretty amazing- there’s different movables in different puzzles that we learn[ed] from the first game and [from] the feedback [we received].

In the first game, we spent hours and days and weeks just watching people play via their streams. And watching people play outside of our own playtest was a really great way to learn from player movement [and] player interactions with the game. And that got the team excited about the different things they could do and [what] different puzzle strategies that they could put into the game. And they were able to take that and bring it to life in Twilight Garden.

But early on, this is something we learned from playtesting. When we went to E3 to announce [Moss] in 2017, [we] ran a playable demo on the show floor. We knew [we were] having an eye-opening experience when people are playing the game- the amount of emotional connection you could have within the video game itself. And this is something that has trickled on not only from that demo but into the original Moss and Twilight Garden expansion as well.

And the level of emotion that you could have with a video game character- [it is] something that none of us have really experienced in the past. In a ten-minute demo experience, we had people feeling nostalgic and almost a nurturing experience with Quill. This was because of the realism of being in an immersive environment was something they had never experienced before.

We never had people cry playing our games before- from the emotional connection they had when Quill got killed or she drowned in one of the game’s rooms. People are so emotionally kept to her, that they are crying or sort of tearing up while playing. And it was really touching for us to realize ‘There’s something here. There’s something here that you can’t get out of other game experiences.’ And we took it back from that demo to the studio and realized that we needed to double down on that and that folks want to have that. So we put it in the game, and then we have been watching people play our game and we realized that we could take it a step further- that emotional connection. And we brought some of that to life in Twilight Garden as well.

“And Moss is one of those in a way that it is a very comforting, gentle experience to get into VR.”

OR: So what’s next for Polyarc, and along those lines- what can you tell us about Moss 2 and the growing of the wider Moss mythology?

LD: There’s a lot of stories to be told. The player- the Reader sitting in the library- there are a lot of books sitting on those shelves. So we’ve only touched on the story of Quill, and our team is busily working to continue this story. But we’ve got nothing to share at this time.

And talking about what’s next- there’s a variety of things that we’re doing at Polyarc. We’re recruiting for a couple of projects that we are working on that we haven’t announced. We have raised funding and we’re working on AR development that we’re really excited about.

Like I said, we have another project in the works with the teams excited about filling out the Moss franchise, and we’re actively recruiting.

OR: Is there anything you can tell us about the AR development?

LD: Not at the moment, we’re at the infancy stages of exploring it right now. We just raised the money, so we’re looking to build out a team to further explore what that means. From a studio perspective, we realize that there is a great opportunity with augmented reality and virtual reality to bring experiences that people haven’t had before. And we’re focusing on some new works so that we can explore that further and hopefully bring to light similar emotions that people have with Moss in VR and in the AR environment as well.

Moss | Solving Puzzles

Both Quill and the Reader can interact with and solve different types of puzzles in Moss. (Images courtesy of Polyarc Games).

Moss | Solving Puzzles

OR: Last question: to someone who may not have heard of Moss until this interview, and is interested in now picking the game up, what do you have to say to them?

LD: Now is a great time to do it.

If someone’s interested in Moss, and they haven’t picked up VR, now is a great time to pick up a VR headset and experience what’s out there. There’s a lot of great games out there. A lot of second, third generation games hitting the platforms that deliver on what the early-on expectations of VR were meant to deliver. And Moss is one of those in a way that it is a very comforting, gentle experience to get into VR. It’s a platformer, fixed-camera positioning where we focused on comfort and we feel like it’s a great stepping-stone from traditional gaming to VR, because it’s in the nature of the platforming and in the game itself.

And in a time of today, when there is so much uncertainty and confusion with the pandemic, it’s a great escape to a world full of mystical magic and a friendship that you form that you can’t have anywhere else.

OR: Thank you very much.

And that wraps up the interview! I would like to thank Lincoln Davis and Polyarc Games for sitting down with me for this interview.

Have you tried out Moss and the Twilight Garden additional content? What do you think about Polyarc Games moving into the realm of AR?

Let us know in the comments below!

You can buy Moss now for PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest/Oculus Rift S, Vive, and on Steam.

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at interviews@oprainfall.com

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