Developer: Pentadimensional Games
Formats: Playstation 4, Playstation VR
Release Date: October 17th 2017 (Playstation 4, Playstation VR) TBC (PC)
Check out our interview with Alfonso del Cerro about his upcoming VR Superhero title Megaton Rainfall.
How would you describe Megaton Rainfall to someone who had never heard of the game?
Megaton Rainfall is a First Person Superhero Simulator. You are a flying indestructible superbeing, and you must save the Earth from an alien invasion. The point is that you are so powerful, that every time you miss your target you can destroy entire buildings and skyscrapers. And you can play with or without VR.
You play the role of a lone superhero who has to take down a deadly Alien race. What sort of powers do you have to combat your outer space foes?
You start with an enery blast that’s so powerful that could blow buildings to pieces if used carelessly. Later in the game you get more powers, including time-freeze, telekinesis, a dash attack, a more powerful charge blast that looks like the kamehameha from Dragon Ball, etc. What’s more fun it’s that with every new power, your chances of making unintentional collateral damage increase dramatically!
Judging by the gameplay footage, environmental damage seems to play a bit part in Megaton Rainfall. What sort of destruction will the Aliens (and the player) be able to inflict on the world?
Yes! You will see a lot of environmental damage when playing the game. The collapse of the skyscrapers is cool because it’s procedurally generated (including inner walls, furniture and unfortunate people), and it clearly reacts to the location and direction of the alien lasers and your stray blasts. Later in the game you can see buildings sliced like fruit, entire cities swept by giant shockwaves. And if you don’t play well near the final mission, you can see global damage in the entire Earth.
The game has full VR support which I think will be superb – there’s nothing quite like Megaton Rainfall available on Playstation VR right now, so it’ll be really interesting to try it out. However, Playstation VR often brings with it some limitations. Given the sheer scale of what you can do in Megaton Rainfall, have you had to make many sacrifices in order to make it work well in VR?
Of course there is nothing like MR in Playstation VR! There is nothing like our game anywhere. Our engine uses very scalable LOD techniques that are always adapting to the current CPU-GPU overhead to render as many city details (buildings, traffic, pedestrians) as possible. Also, there are a number of optimizations that can be made to port the game to VR without compromising quality: one is to render the farthest stuff only once (not once per eye), which is very helpful in this game where the landscapes are huge and most of the detail doesn’t need stereo rendering. Another one is the wide-near optimization (as Sony knows it) or foveated rendering (as Steam VR knows it), that allows to render with less resolution near the border of the lenses. Finally, we also use dynamic resolution to keep the frame rate smooth (also in the non-VR mode, but in this mode it will keep 100% resolution most of the time).
Naturally, a lot of players suffer from motion sickness when playing on VR, so I can imagine flying through the sky and blasting through buildings might cause them a few issues. Have you implemented anything in the game to help combat this?
In our tests, when flying far from the ground, no one gets motion sickness, the biggest problem is when you fly near the buildings. This said, you don’t really need to blast through buildings a lot (there are enemies that will evade your dash attacks and will make you destroy buildings but it doesn’t happen a lot of times). The game renders blinders (temporal reductions of field of view) when you fly near the buildings, they will help a lot of players to feel more comfortable, and they can be turned off in the options menu if you don’t need them. Also, the controls allow you to rotate the view in fast 45º turns, which is a lot more comfortable in VR than your typical Call of Duty controls. And if despite all this you get dizzy, you can switch to the non-VR mode. The full experience can be played in VR and non-VR modes.
I’ve noticed a few familiar landmarks in some of the trailers you’ve released for the game too. Do players visit real cities in the game, or are they just fictional creations that are heavily inspired by real life locales?
Last year we made some tests with Open Street Map to integrate real maps of lots of real cities in the game. But it didn’t work: enemies didn’t adapt well to so many different widths of streets etc., and the game could have weighted 40 GB. So in the final version the cities will only have real size and locations, and real coastlines, with procedurally/randomly generated street maps. We also added some recognizable landmarks, like the Westminster Abbey in London, the fancy hotels in Dubai etc.
Megaton Rainfall’s release is not too far away now, which I can imagine is a great relief for you as an independent developer. How long have you been working on Megaton Rainfall in total? What sort of trials did you face when creating the game?
Megaton Rainfall started as a solo development 5 years ago. After 2 years working in my free time, I was so excited about the procedural destruction technology, that I decided to quit my job and go full time. One year later, Sony offered me a temporal exclusivity deal that allowed me to hire several artisis, one musician (David García from Rime/Hellblade), and make the game look a lot better. There have been so many challenges making this game… the destruction technology, the optimizations to make it work in PS VR, the controls in VR… There have been even hidden challenges, elements that look easy to make but were extremely tricky: chasing enemies in a planet as big as the Earth is one of them, because the flight speed varies exponentially according to the altitude; also the rendering of the clouds: I wanted them to have a cottony appearance unusual in games and it took weeks to get it properly. Etc etc.
Finally, can you tell us a neat fact about Megaton Rainfall that no one outside of the development team know?
How about this one: in the game you are completely indestructible (the cities have health bars that you must protect from the aliens)… but there is a hidden easter-eggish way to kill yourself (and you will unlock a trophy if you find it).