Developer: Secret Sorcery (www.secretsorcery.com)
Formats: Playstation VR
Release Date: October 2016
Check out our interview with Ian Moran, Technical Director of Tethered:
Q. How would you describe Tethered to someone who had never heard of the game?
Tethered is a god game made for VR using simple and intuitive mechanics that bond the player physically and emotionally to the peeps that inhabit your lands. Together you progress by accumulating Spirit Energy and along the way you will be solving environmental puzzles, building infrastructure and wielding your power over the elements such as the sun the wind, the rain and lightning.
Q. When watching the reveal video the first thing I really noticed was just how stunning the game world looked. Was there anything in particular that influenced your design choices whilst crafting such a vibrant world?
Well thank you! The work of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli was an inspiration, and we went on to develop our style working with our incredibly talented concept artist Espen who lives in the mountains of Norway. His work focuses on colour which works especially well with the beautifully vibrant output of the PSVR headset.
The style also maximises the suspension of disbelief, which means we can introduce more magic and character into our creatures, events and effects, things that are important for the peeps universe and us, without falling in to an uncanny valley that could compromise the players experience.
Q. Do the islands you inhabit vary up much between playthroughs? Are they randomly generated or are there a series of set designs?
You play through a sequence of floating islands, each individually designed and crafted to feature unique challenges. The game demanded bespoke design for each level, what you do on each is up to you though. Sand box play and emergence means solving puzzles, discovering ancient artefacts, improving your knowledge and abilities – there are many roads to success.
Q. So besides the player, the main stars of the game are a cute race known as the ‘Peeps’. Of course, it’s up to the player to protect the Peeps from the onslaught of the nocturnal slug-lion monsters. What’s the story behind the Peeps and why are they constantly under attack?
The peeps are simple things, they need you to give them purpose, and you need them to accumulate spirit energy. Unfortunately the wild things that climb from beneath the floating islands each night are in direct competition with the resources that you require, hence the conflict.
Q. What sort of tasks will the Peeps be taking care of in order to prepare for the night-time attacks and how will the player help them?
You give purpose to your peeps, asking them to build interesting and useful infrastructure while maintaining their sustenance. Managing the weather can all help put you in a better position when night falls.
Q. What sort of progression does the game feature, or is it simply a case of seeing how long you can protect your Peeps for?
The goal is to collect enough spirit energy to progress to the next island. You will want everything you do to accelerate you to this goal, using our own slant on sandbox god game infrastructure building, resource conversion, improving knowledge, and yes protecting your peeps.
Q. Tethered is the first release from you guys at Secret Sorcery though you’ve all had plenty of experience in the industry over the years – what inspired you to create something exclusively for VR and how do you think the technology will improve the player’s experience when playing Tethered?
While we’ve seen several generational leaps in hardware over the years, it’s always been a step change in something that was seen on a flat screen. Now the demands of low latency virtual reality can be satisfied, we can now be literally immersed and surrounded in worlds we create, something very different, something that needs to be experienced to be understood. It’s reality catching up with the sci-fi fantasies that we’ve had, a whole new way of experiencing games, an experiential paradigm shift maybe last felt by audiences of the first moving pictures.
VR is a new medium, its something that breaks learned expectations of flat gaming. As our first product Tethered had to be built from the ground up for VR, we took the time to experiment with a lot of different ideas and many prototypes before arriving on mechanics with engaging viewpoints and perspective that maintains comfort.
Secret Sorcery and Tethered were born out of the passion for VR as well as the god game genre. The potential of VR inspired us, something that we feel has to be experienced to be understood. If we get it right, players will hopefully feel the same.
Q. Tethered is coming exclusively to Playstation VR later this year – will it be available at launch in October or will it come slightly later?
We expect Tethered to be a PSVR launch title and are working hard to get everything right for then!
Q. Finally, can you tell us one thing about the game that no-one outside of the development team knows?
I could… but then that wouldn’t be ‘secret’ sorcery.
You can find out more about Tethered on the game’s official website – click here to check it out.