Growing leaps and bounds: Polyarc on the trajectory of VR and Moss

Growing leaps and bounds: Polyarc on the trajectory of VR and Moss

Star wars

Moss has been one of the biggest critical successes of virtual reality’s resurgence this decade.

Released on PlayStation VR in 2018, the action-adventure puzzler came from the imagination and wizardry of former Bungie developers who had formed Polyarc a few years before.

Its protagonist, Quill, quickly won the games industry’s heart, and Moss ended up launching on Oculus Rift and Quest, as well as HTC Vive. It even got DLC in 2019, and Polyarc never hid its ambitions to keep expanding its world.

It wasn’t all that surprising then when Polyarc announced Moss: Book 2 during PlayStation’s State of Play showcase in July. And the studio has now revealed that the anticipated sequel is due to release during spring 2022 on PSVR.

“The market has changed,” Polyarc’s publishing and communications director Lincoln Davis tells GamesIndustry.biz. “When we launched Moss originally, there were three headsets out there. It was Rift, Vive and PlayStation VR. And that was where the market was. There was a lot of excitement behind it and it has since grown. Accessibility has grown.”

“The market is growing leaps and bounds. Not at the rate of consoles, but it’s becoming more mainstream”

Lincoln Davis

Since Moss released, Valve has invested in the VR space with the Index, Oculus launched a new version of its Quest, the Vive Pro 2 and PSVR 2 are on the horizon, and standalone and wireless virtual reality has drastically improved. It’s a market ripe for sequels, Davis suggests.

“There’s a lot of new excitement from the hardware perspective and a lot of advancement with the different specs that are coming out, so we’re getting a richer experience and a lot of developers really take advantage of the power of the platforms with unique [games].

“If you look at these experiences, they’ve also evolved. Early on, there were a lot of tech demos and short [titles]. Even Moss. Moss was roughly a four-to-six hour game and we launched it at a time where there was real uncertainty of how long people would want to put on a headset for. And then we realised that people wanted more, and they were willing to keep their headsets on.

“The market is growing leaps and bounds,” he continues. “Not at the rate of consoles, but it’s becoming more mainstream. We see other studios doubling down on this as well, other sequels coming out, games that are coming that are full game experiences and not tech demos. People are starting to figure out what sort of game content actually works on these platforms.”

star wars Moss: Book 2 is set to release in spring 2022 on PSVR

Moss: Book 2 is set to release in spring 2022 on PSVR

It’s true that Polyarc is not the only VR studio working on a follow up title, with Schell Games having released I Expect You to Die 2 this summer, Halfbrick Studios’ Fruit Ninja VR 2 expected this December, and a sequel to The Exorcist Legion VR teased for 2022, among others.

“There’s tens of millions of VR headsets out there,” Davis adds. “It’s a market that’s growing steadily and has a high trajectory. It’s not just a niche market anymore. You’re gonna see richer content coming, because studios are willing to spend more money on it and double down on that investment as it grows.”

And just like the market it’s entering with Moss: Book 2, Polyarc is keen to level up its game, taking all the elements people loved about the original title, and making them bigger and better.

“When people fall in love with a game, you have to know why they fall in love and you don’t want to change it”

Michael Felice

“When people fall in love with a game, you have to know why they fall in love and you don’t want to change it,” says Michael Felice, Polyarc’s engineering director. “You can build on it, you can enhance it. But you have to understand the essence of it.

“That is a cornerstone to how we have built up and improved our systems for Moss: Book 2. Specifically thinking about that, what is the essence of the Moss world? And how do we stay true to that? There are key things that shine in Moss that players are really taken to, but one of the biggest things is the emotional connection with Quill.

“We have to maintain that connection and that’s an area that we can grow and explore even further. How do we amp that up so that there’s more of it? We want i

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