Akemann:Night Mode – incredibly dangerous, but with legitimate Walkers sense and light/dark gameplay, including the player-controlled flashlight and flares, was a dimensional addition of stealth gameplay.
We created a nighttime environment for every level in the game, old and new. We also expanded dynamic lighting. Of course, you still have your trusty flashlight, but now we have added flares that give the player temporary control over the lighting of areas – reveal the path, distract the Walkers while you sneak the other way, and other cool uses I won’t reveal here.
Note that this is not just cosmetic – we enforce light-based perception rules on the AI, so you can legitimately hide in darkness or be exposed in light. Cap that off with the fact there are no ringing bells at night, as there are during the day, so it’s not time-limited, and night mode becomes a legit stealth and exploration game. It’s a whole different way to play with a whole new set of secrets to discover.
We’re super proud we were able to add such a meaningful feature in Chapter 2: Retribution.
Haptic feedback sounds like it plays a major role in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution. Can you walk us through how you developed the feel of fighting the walking dead and what you think contributes to the experience?
Akemann: That’s a huge question, and we’ve spoken at length about it in other forums.
But in short, the physicality of The Walking Dead, both in combat and in the general handling of objects, is the hallmark of the franchise, and we believe it ought to be a standard for all VR.
The core challenge is to convey the illusion of weight, momentum, contact, and resistance that the player can’t actually feel in real life. We rely extensively on controller haptics but also what we call “visual haptics,” animation and response to user action that visually conveys the same properties above.
The most basic principle: the virtual hands separated from the literal player hand with the delta will be perceived as force. In other words, heavy objects hang below or lag behind the player’s movement, creating large deviations that are perceived as a greater intentional force.
We sometimes replace physical simulation with animation driven by player movement when we need to intend a precise result. The classic example is our signature progression of a knife blade being plunged into a walker’s brain, but we use a similar technique for handling grapples.
The chainsaw really took haptics to the next level. Engine vibrations, running low on fuel, revving the engine, turnover when you try to start it and are out of gas. The whole cycle of cutting from the initial impact of the blade, the soft cutting through flesh, the slow, ragged chopping through deep interior bone, and the final lurch as the cut is completed. All of this is conveyed in haptics so clearly that you don’t need to see to know what you’re doing.
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