‘COMPOUND’ Demo Hits SteamVR, Puts You in a VR World of Lovingly Detailed Retro Graphics

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COMPOUND is a VR hobby project from developer ‘NotDead’ which aims to immerse you in a world of lovingly crafted pixel art, retro-styled first person shooter.

Update (4/6/17, 11:48PM PT): Compound has received a major update with v0.03b and has launched on SteamVR as a demo. Developer NotDead has released a new video showing the many improvements in action (see video heading this article).

compound-4A laundry list of tweaks has brought significant improvements to the game, including weapon tweaks, more varied and interactive environments, and improved audio. Here are the highlights (see Compound’s official page for full release notes):

  • Pistol rebalance
  • Total sewer overhaul
  • Total audio overhaul
  • Difficulty options
  • Most objects including dead bodies can be picked up and thrown around
  • Made critical hits clear to the player
  • Items despawn, blink before disappearing
  • Better splash screen
  • Lots more I’ve probably forgotten!

In the next “mini update” promises customizable controls (including a left-handed mode), additional locomotion options (including an enhanced comfort mode). Following that, priorities will be on new weapons, enemies, and levels.

Original Article (2/12/17): Ironically, there is a risk that the over abundance of so-called ‘pixel art’ video games in circulation these days of the nostalgia-fuelled art style is in danger of beginning to look tired and dated. There’s also an erroneous belief by some that creating effective pixel art titles is somehow an easy way out for an indie developer. However, creating really effective pixel art is hard, and it’s even harder when you’re mapping that art onto a realtime 3D world designed to be experienced in VR.

Enter Compound, a “VR hobby project” by developer ‘NotDead’, a virtual reality shooter which lovingly embraces it’s jumbo pixels textures and fuses the look with appropriately simplistic yet elegant gameplay.

Compound throws you into an underground world, filled with futuristic-looking bad guys sporting woefully ineffective armour and marksmanship skills which would embarrass the average Stormtrooper. You have two weapons at your disposal, a laser pistol with infinite ‘ammo’ and an SMG style energy weapon. You wander the titular underground compound, shooting bad guys (I didn’t ask to stop why they were bad it must be said) and security robots, grabbing ammo and burgers (for health) as you go. Shoot everyone and get to the end of the level. That’s pretty much it in terms of objectives.

But the beauty of Compound is in its execution. The SMG for example requires to be physically reloaded with ammo you’ve collected in your inventory – a nicely satisfying mechanic. You can drift around the levels using ‘artificial’ locomotion (aka full locomotion) or teleportation – and it’ll doubtless make purists happy that you can switch between either method on the fly. Strafing and physically dodging projectiles is great fun and as you dart around the world, one heavily inspired by id’s genre-defining Wolfenstein (1992) in terms of colour palette, you quickly warm to your blocky alternate reality surroundings.

As stated, Compound is a one-man hobby project right now and can the latest version of the demo can be downloaded for free from the developer’s home page here and works on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The developer also states they have high hopes of the project growing beyond its homebrew roots stating “I hope this project eventually evolves into a very fleshed out VR roguelite with a large number of items, weapons, enemies and characters. A non-VR version is also in the works.”

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  • DougP

    Nice write-up. Looks like some nostalgic gaming VR fun.

    Quell 4D –
    In a similar vein, Quell 4D is a fully fleshed-out retro game in VR, I highly recommend.

    • http://store.steampowered.com/app/534230/

      Good reviews for Quell 4d.

    • Strawb77

      good shot @dougp!
      i hadn`t really looked at q4d before i saw your post.
      have bought it now.
      very trippy cartoon doom riff.
      i appreciate your recommendation.
      pity there`s no demo tho`.
      compound looks good too, i expect to get that when it has a proper release.

  • VR makes everything look amazing…. Nice to see another game for both Octopus & Vive.

    • So far your Octopus name isn’t catching on yet :)

      • Octopus rift…
        Octopus rift…
        Octopus rift…
        Octopus rift…

      • Caven

        Someday he’ll figure out how to turn off that autocorrect. ;)

      • NooYawker

        But we all know what he means :D

  • xebat

    The most fun single player shooter experience for VR right now, seriously.

  • Frogacuda

    Been enjoying this

  • rabs

    I’m still not sure what “full locomotion” means, though. I guess here it’s thumb controlled 2D translation, as it’s often the case.

    I saw some people claiming it means they can fully play in their armchair: artificial turning, translation (forward/backward/left/right), and eventually 3D movements (jumping, crouching, climbing, swimming, flying, etc.).

    • Full locomotion is where the user runs around with PC on his or her back.
      Very different to teleport which thus far has only been able to transport the odd photon from A to B.

    • Caven

      At an absolute minimum, it does mean the ability for the player to actually traverse the world, rather than pop from one stationary point to another. In practice, it can mean a lot of different things from WASD or gamepad support so that movement works just like a conventional game, all the way to simulated walking by swinging the movement controllers.

  • Brandon Smith

    Crystal Rift has a bit of this appeal, for me. The idea of being IN a 90s era PC game, that is. I think these sorts of games really need to come out soon because there is a limited amount of time for them to be viable, but I really love the idea. It’s very fun, but probably only for a small niche of people.

    • Fear Monkey

      Also really enjoyed Crystal Rift, makes me wish for a Stonekeep VR or Daggerfall kind of game, where its more of a major RPG.

  • Eric Nevala

    Imagine if you went back in time to 1994 and just posted this video online somewhere on a BBS…

    • ra51

      BBS??? I haven’t heard that in the longest time lol!!!
      Actually this is more closer to like 1992 where Wolfenstein 3D just came out…holy shit…imagine that in VR. Ironically, this was also during the time of the whole 90’s VR craze and with raycasting 3D games were all the rage.

      • I tweeted Jon Carmack on this since he created Wolfenstein. He could totally redo retro versions of all of his old stuff.

  • Nikola Nikola

    Is he using pendulum locomotion system?

  • Interesting project

  • JustNiz

    You say “lovingly retro” I say “looks like shit”.

    • VR Geek

      You really cannot judge until your in it with VR. It is amazing and surprisingly cool.

    • Guesty

      Your uncanny valley of Unity looks like shit. That pixelated burger looked more tasty than any slop you could make with your game engine!

  • Lucidfer

    Nice idea. Too bad animation are not “retro” which kind of break the stylistic statement and immersion. Pixar did it incredibly well in Wreck-it-Ralph with the small neighbour character which seems to skip frames in their movements.

    • J.C.

      Oh man, yeah, that seems like a missed opportunity. On the upside, removing animation frames is easier than putting them in, so it’s possible he could switch to them.

  • VR Geek

    Please support Virtuix Omni!!!

  • Me

    Probably one of the best games/experiences to come on the Vive, and it’s made as a hobby by a single developer. That shows you how studios are still going in VR with baby steps. I can’t believe the current offer is all we get when there are large teams out there that could literally plop a fully fledged game in just a few weeks (that’s what it took to fruit ninja to adapt it to VR).

    Anyways, NotDead, I wish you all the best because this is a hell of a resumé…

  • impurekind

    This looks completely awesome.

    • Doctor Bambi

      Words of wisdom, never skip the last paragraph.

      “As stated, Compound is a one-man hobby project right now and can the latest version of the demo can be downloaded for free from the developer’s home page here and works on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.”

      • impurekind

        Yeah, I went back and re-checked, and then edited my comment. lol

  • look at that amazing smooth locomotion. no ugly teleport pish.

  • CazCore

    this has potential to be great. and it’s one of the better looking retropixel games.
    i just need to be able to turn (in-game) for it to be playable for me.

    • Yes. Lack of turning is a pain. I’m using Oculus and the tracking goes out if I turn around. I have three sensors but that doesn’t seem to help.

  • Tyler Soward

    This is seriously one of my favorite games in VR right now. Really glad to see it make it onto Steam. I’ve already put hours and hours into this but will gladly fork over the cash to help support the project

  • Amazing. It plays on Oculus really well through the Steam store. I play this now instead of the other crap. Only RoboRecall comes close and even that doesn’t let me move freely and forces me to teleport. I absolutely despise teleportation except when I’m in a hurry.