ikrimaI talk with Ikrima Elhassan of Kite & Lightning about their new tabletop VR game called Bebylon Battle Royale, which is a “Vehicular Melee Party Brawler.” Kite & Lightning has a made a name of creating high-end cinematic VR experiences such as Senza Peso as well as Insurgent movie VR experience. Bebylon is K&L’s first foray into developing a comedy game, and so we talk about their game development philosophy as well as the challenges of creating innovative gameplay with support for both gamepads and touch controllers.

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Ikrima says that VR game developers can choose two out of the three of the following: innovative VR gameplay, support for gamepads, or support for touch controllers. By choosing to support both gamepads and touch controllers, then they’re forced to go with a lowest common denominator gameplay that both controllers can support. They can do innovative gameplay design with either the gamepad or with the touch controller, but not with both. Because they’re planning on focusing on creating a launch title for the Rift, then they’re choosing to support gamepads, and not commit to touch support until they’re further into the development cycle.

Ikrima also talks about the choice on going with a miniaturized tabletop aesthetic in order to have all of the action within the nearfield sweetspot of VR, which maximizes the parallax effects and magic of VR. The other competing player will be represented in a 1:1 depiction enabling the players to express their creativity through a number of taunts, humiliation animations, and overall boasting. Ikrima says that a smoke bomb released on the race track could also temporarily block your first-person perspective of what you avatar can see. The miniaturized VR action will also lend itself well for spectators to watch the action from within VR as well.

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The Kite & Lightning team has relocated to Paris in order to focus on prototyping and developing this game. They’re still early within the development process, and so they don’t have any gameplay footage or trailers to show just yet beyond a piece of concept art which shows how the immortal “beby” characters are trapped within the bodies of a 2-year old baby. Ikrima says that surreal and humorous nature of these “beby” characters helps to defy your expectations and overcome the uncanny valley with their stylized cinematic reality art direction. Ikrima describes the game as a combination of Mario Kart party mode and Super Smash Bros, and they are targeting their launch to be within a month or two after the consumer release of the Oculus Rift.

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