We here at The Gamers Drop had the pleasure of sitting down – virtually – with the founder and CEO of Bolvërk Games, Bo Bennekov, to pick his brain about Kittypocalypse as well as VR in general.
How many alien kittens were killed in the creation of Kittypocalypse?
We lost count after Oculus runtime upgrade 0.6. There were simply too many casualties for us to keep track of, on both sides of the war.
What was your first games machine/computer?
I was too young for the Atari, so started with Commodore 64, then Commodore 128 (only kid in the neighbourhood with one of those. Hugely popular amongst the non-popular kids). Later an Amiga 500, upgraded that sucker to 1 MB of RAM, and dual disc drives. After that a short relationship with Nintendo consoles, only to rent a PC for the money I made delivering newspapers. We also had the first internet connection in the neighbourhood, from CompuServe (before the WWW, and extremely unpopular with my sister, who could not use the phone while I was browsing newsgroups.)
Do you have a release date yet?
We are following the launch of the Oculus Rift, but no date has been set firmly yet.
What made you choose to dive headfirst into VR Games?
There are two reasons, namely:
The business reason – we are anticipating that VR will be a huge market, and want to get a head-start and claim our stake!
And the real reason – we absolutely love Virtual Reality, so much we would hug it if it was possible.
What are some of the hurdles for creating a strategy VR game?
Actually VR solves some of the problems with strategy games, mainly the incompatibility with controllers. With the extra added benefit of the “gaze to select” feature, we can finally make a strategy game that really works using a controller instead of mouse and keyboard. Other than that, the whole immersion tends to draw you away from the strategic overlook, and down into the action. Making a game that is both compelling close to the action, but also visually pleasing in strategic view has been a challenge.
Did you consider making the game strictly first person and planting the player’s feet on the ground? Or was it always envisioned for the player to have complete freedom?
If we had a dead kitten for each time we pivoted and argued over the camera settings in Kittypocalypse, we would have at least fifteen dead kittens. The initial setting had a vertical play area with the player standing in front of it; Kittypocalypse has been confined to a desk, with the player sitting on a chair, and all possible configurations in between… (we also tried three impossible configurations, but they did not work as you can imagine.) We want the player to feel free, even though the current zoom levels are actually limited to 4 different heights. (The highest being a holo-representation inside your spaceship) We like that balance, which will probably survive until launch.
Kittypocalypse seems inspired by tower defense games. What other games did you draw influence from?
We, and myself in particular, are dedicated tower defense fans. I rejoiced with the second coming of tower defense games with the arrival of mobile and tablet gaming, and has sunk several thousand hours into them. On PC, Defense Grid 2 is probably the best offering (yet), and I really like Tower Madness 2 for the iPhone. Being a Tower Defense fan means that you absolutely have to love the good old Flash game Vector TD. Outside of the genre, I’d say Star Wars Battlefront’s environments were a nice inspiration as well.
Are you launching on any specific headset? Or are you going to try to hit the major three? (Oculus, Vive, Sony VR)
We are launching in chronological order on Rift, Vive and then Sony VR.
Have you given any thought to post-release support for Kittypocalypse? Or better yet, what’s next for Bolvërk Games?
Kittypocalypse is a planned franchise, hopefully expanded with several DLCs, a sequel, Kittypocalypse mobile, multiplayer support, and merch. Bolvërk Games has several other releases on the planning board, and if all goes to plan, we will launch a full featured, best in class, fantastically unique and superbly playable real-time strategy multiplayer bonanza war-fest. It will be great. No kittens, though.
Any consideration being made to let users create and share maps for Kittypocalypse?
We have already built in support for community balancing of weapons and waves. We also want to include other forms of user created content, maybe even a level editor in the future. It is all up on the idea board, but no promises yet. It’s a chicken and egg problem: we want to build a strong userbase before committing to extended modability, but also understand that a strong userbase might spring from the same modability. Hopefully we will strike the right balance.
Do you prefer strawberry or orange jam on your toast?
Orange. No contest. Zesty, stingy British orange marmalade.
Thanks again to Bo Bennekov for taking time out of his undoubtedly busy schedule fighting the hordes of evil kittens to answer these questions.
Keep an eye out for Kittypocalypse when it launches this spring alongside the Oculus Rift.
Don’t let the kitties get the upper hand.