Indie VR title Vanishing Realms brought Zelda-esque room-scale RPG action to the Vive all the way back at the headset’s April 2016 launch. The game is one of the top rated titles on SteamVR, but remains in Early Access more than two and a half years later. Communication from the title’s sole indie developer have been extremely sparse, but a fresh update today affirmed that work is ongoing and aims to bring major changes to the game… eventually.
Update (November 16, 2018): Some 10 months after the last substantial communication, Vanishing Realms developer Kelly Bailey today offered a fresh status update on the Early Access project, affirming that work continues on the title, including what sound like forthcoming significant changes to the overall shape of the game. Specifically, Bailey says that he’s been working hard to move from a purely linear to a more open world gameplay experience.
“This feels like the most challenging game design task I’ve ever worked on. Sticking with exclusively linear design would be significantly easier, but I am just personally fascinated by the sense of exploration in larger outdoor fantasy landscapes in VR,” he writes in the update. “I’ve spent tons of time working on this, and I’m tentatively optimistic.”
What’s more, Bailey has been spending time overhauling the game’s melee combat to feel more reactive and immersive. A physics-based animation system has been in the works, which could allow players to, for example, use a weapon to push an enemy’s shield out of the way to create an opening for attack in the midst of combat.
While Bailey says it wasn’t his intention to let the game linger in Early Access for so long, he has come to deeply embrace the designation—to the dismay of some fans.
“Over time, I’ve come to realize that early access lets me feel it’s ok to continue to try significant experiments with the design and tech, and attempt new things that I would likely avoid if the game were ‘finished’. I really value that creative and technical freedom, and I think early access remains an appropriate label to describe how I’m treating the code base and design.”
Ultimately he says writing of new code is winding down, and most of his development lately has been focused on building out content with the tools and systems that he’s created. As ever, he’s not willing to even hint at a timeline for when fans can experience the game’s forthcoming third chapter, and we’d have to guess that 2018 is off the table by now. But, he assures, work continues, and he has no intention of abandoning the project.
Original Article (July 2nd, 2018): Kelly Bailey is the brains and sole developer behind Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel, and a former Valve employee who worked on the Half-Life series. His indie VR title has been praised for its embodied room-scale VR gameplay. The title comprises the first two chapters of Bailey’s vision, while a third chapter has been on the roadmap for some time.
The game’s last substantial update came in September 2017, in which Bailey said an upgrade to the game engine “will allow the world of Vanishing Realms to expand in the future, enabling the possibility of a more open-world game design.” But since then there’s only been one minor update to the game in January of this year, and little communication from Bailey about the state of of the game’s development.
However, he recently made a rare appearance on the game’s Steam forum, responding to a player asking if Vanishing Realms had been abandoned, and affirmed that he’s still working on the title.
“Hi the_immortal, additional content for the game is still in the works, albeit ridiculously slowly.”
It’s a minor but meaningful glimmer of hope for the game’s fans, many of whom say Vanishing Realms ranks among their top VR titles to date.
Bailey is up front about the pace of the game’s development, saying back in 2017, “as it required over 2,500 hours of dev time to create ch1 & ch2, I’ve concluded it’s quite beyond me to accurately estimate a delivery date for new chapters!”
The last time he talked about the title’s roadmap was back in September 2016, where he promised that the game would come out of early access and eventually see a third chapter of content, likely deployed as DLC. As far as we know, those plans are unchanged, but as Bailey says, he’s become hesitant to commit to any specific timeline.