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Had the pleasure in speaking with Carbon Studio Marketing & Publishing Manager, Pawel Gajda. Let’s learn more about Pawel, Carbon Studio and The Wizards for the PlayStation VR.

Thank you Pawel for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a gamer, drummer, and a family person. I studied Film Production and used to work in the film industry as a set manager. I was always very interested in technology and got crazy about VR after the original Oculus’ Kickstarter campaign. A friend of mine told me that there’s a company nearby that develops games for VR. I couldn’t miss such an opportunity, and soon managed to join the team.

The Wizards

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Carbon Studio, how was it formed.

The company was founded by three former members of The Farm 51 (the developer of Get Even, Chernobyl VR and WW3). They heard about the same Kickstarter campaign and wanted to work with VR technology ever since. Soon after they decided to start writing their own history and run a company that would focus entirely on VR. In the beginning, the studio was a team of 4 people. Today, there is 18 of us, with 3 VR titles released.

You’re currently the Head of Marketing & Publishing at Carbon Studio. Can you explain your role and responsibilities?

My job is to make sure that our games have successful releases. As we all know, it’s not enough to develop a brilliant game – you also need people interested in playing it. I’m managing all of the marketing, PR, and communication activities. I also build relationships with distribution platform holders such as Valve, Sony, and Oculus to secure support from their side. My favorite part of the job though is being a hub between the players’ community and our team. I’m the first to receive feedback and share news with our fans. It gives plenty of satisfaction!

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Carbon Studio’s 1st VR Game “Alice VR” is currently playable on Steam and various VR hardware but not the PSVR. Should we expect to see this game on the PlayStation VR in the foreseeable future?

We are not saying “no” to this idea! Currently, the whole focus is on The Wizards of course, but we do consider breathing new life to Alice VR. The game has some flaws that could easily be fixed and many positive aspects that make it worth playing.

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Can you explain to our audience what the game The Wizards is to those that are not familiar with it?

The Wizards is a single-player game set in a fantasy world with a unique system of casting spells with hand gestures. During the five-six hours-long campaign, players explore diverse locations, fight monsters, learn new spells and upgrade them using collectibles hidden on the levels. The game’s main focus is immersion – being able to become a wizard and cast powerful spells. There are no pop-up menus, no button combinations – all the interactions in the game, from conjuring spells to opening doors and choosing levels, are reliant on the player’s hand movements.

How many people were involved in making The Wizards for the PSVR? What are there various roles?

There are currently 18 people on our team. At a peak point, all of them were involved in the development of The Wizards. We have one writer, one marketing manager, one sound designer and a handful of game designers and programmers.

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What are the major differences between The Wizards currently on the Steam Store & The Wizards Enhanced Edition on PSVR? Are there any noticeable changes.

Definitely! The Enhanced Edition is more polished and has some content and features that we wanted to have in the game but didn’t manage to prepare for the release on PC. There is one more stage (level), the longest yet; there is a checkpoint system that makes losses less frustrating; there is a possibility to modify the color of the player’s gloves. We also added new cutscenes that fill in the story of the game. We also reached out to the PlayStation VR community on Reddit and asked about what options should we include in the PSVR version of The Wizards. In effect, the movement is fully customizable, players can turn off comfort vignette, choose dominant hand for spells, dominant eye for the bow, etc.

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Were there any lessons learned from Alice VR that were applied to The Wizards?

We definitely learned a lot and tried to apply as much as possible. Upon release, Alice VR supported only free movement locomotion. In effect, some players were getting sick while playing it,and therefore we ended up limiting an already niche userbase for our game. With The Wizards we decided to go for the opposite solution and release the game in Early Access with teleportation only. As it turned out, many players felt that this was too limiting and that they would prefer to move freely! We decided to add free movement and redesign the whole game to make it more open and reward exploration. Going back to Alice VR, we also learned how significant, fun, and immersive interactions are in VR. This is something that the game was missing because we started the development before we got access to motion controllers. There’s a lot of “press the button” interaction in that game. As I mentioned above, this is exactly the opposite in The Wizards.

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Were there any challenges or difficulties when making this game for the PlayStation VR?

It was quite a challenge to adjust the whole game to PlayStation VR, as this console has different technical specifications and motion controller tracking method than most PC VR systems. We had to optimize the game heavily, but luckily for the players most of the time we found ways to make the game run faster without compromises in visual fidelity. We also redesigned the aim assist feature and interactions with some of the spells to make sure that hand motions are tracked accurately despite PS VR sporting only one, front-facing camera.

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Do you believe to truly get the best playing experience in The Wizards that a purchase of the 3dRudder is a necessary?

This is definitely an exciting hardware that adds to the experience. We have developed The Wizards on PC specifically for hand motion controllers so I would not say that 3dRudder is the only way to enjoy the game. But it can make it a bit easier to play, as it gives players more control over the character’s movement in the game. Some players will also find it more immersive to control the movement with their feet instead of buttons.

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Will The Wizards get a physical release on the PSVR is this something you can currently discuss?

Yes, we have a great, experienced publisher (Perp) that will release boxed edition of The Wizards not long after the digital launch. This is coming to both the USA and Europe. Perp will be able to share more details regarding the physical release soon.

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What does the future hold for Carbon Studios after The Wizards is released in March for the PSVR? Will there be more games coming to the PSVR. Maybe even exclusively to the PSVR?

What I can say for sure is that our next game is going to be a VR title. We are also definitely going to release it on PlayStation VR, before or simultaneously with other VR platforms. With certain projects already in development, we are debating on the more distant future of Carbon Studio. Keep your fingers crossed!

Do you have any advice for  VR developers who are also hoping to create a high-quality VR game for either the Playstation VR or any of the various other VR devices?

Listen carefully to what the players say. Check what the latest trends are when it comes to locomotion, input, etc. Iterate fast and run alpha testing with “regular” players (lots of them await on Reddit) rather than closed-beta sign-ups to see what works and what does not. Don’t develop the game like you’re the only one who’s going to play it. You get sick using free movement in VR? Fine, design a decent teleportation system. But please remember that more than half of VR community prefers free movement and those players will get pretty mad if you miss this feature.

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Don’t forget! You can win a digital copy of The Wizards: Enhanced Edition for the PlayStation VR. To enter…

Contest ends on March 12, 2019 and opened to US and EU residents. Good luck!

About Tech Wiz X - Contributor

Steven (TechWizX) has been into video games since Pong. When he's not playing video games or collecting Vintage 80s Toys he's running his YouTube channel.

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