Krillbite Studio | We learned a lot about VR, so here is why we are rethinking Among the Sleep
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21 Sep We learned a lot about VR, so here is why we are rethinking Among the Sleep

oculusrift

You would think a first person horror game would be perfect for Virtual Reality. We thought so too, but in the last two years we have learned otherwise. Virtual Reality is wonderful, it’s immersive, engaging and powerful. But you really need to design your game for VR from the ground up, not the other way around.

The feel of the game

A huge focus when creating Among the Sleep was to make the player feel like he or she was controlling a small child. To accomplish this we spent a lot of time on camera movement. We wanted to simulate the way children waggle when they walk, their perspective and movement when crawling. We made climbing animations simulating how small children climb, we made the player fall over occasionally when running because, you know, that happens to small children.

All of these techniques are essential to project the feeling of being a child to the player. They make the player feel small, fragile and vulnerable. But unfortunately they don’t work in VR.

One of the first things we learned when experimenting with VR is that the player needs to be in control. All the time. When a player puts on a headset to play your game he is basically placed inside the game. This creates a unique and intense connection between the player and the game, a much more powerful connection than you can accomplish through a regular screen, and it’s a connection that requires trust between the game and the player. The player has to trust that he or she will be in control all the time.

A very common technique in story driven first person games is to take away the players control of the camera when you want to tell some story. You want the player to see the spaceships approaching over the mountain, the skyscraper collapsing over the military troops or the mom feeding you cake. Basically the game grabs hold of your virtual head for a few seconds or minutes, points it in the right direction and tells you to look at this before you can continue playing.

This feels horrible in VR.

If you do this in VR it basically feels like someone is physically grabbing your head and forcing you to watch something. Suddenly your entire body is paralysed and the sense of freedom of perspective and immersion that VR does so well is shattered. It’s a violation of the trust you are building up between your game and the player.

The same goes for all our camera techniques that try to emulate a small child’s movements. When your eyes tell you that you are wobbling along down a corridor but your body is standing still, it’s basically a recipe for motion sickness. Toggling between walking and crawling or climbing is the same, the discrepancy between what you feel and what you see is very uncomfortable.

Among the Sleep - Oculus Poster
Click image to get an Among the Sleep meets Oculus Rift poster

Good and bad movements

What we have learned about Virtual Reality is that the player is the avatar and the player needs to be in control. When we play Elite Dangerous with Oculus Rift we are inside the cockpit controlling a spacecraft. When we try Sonys scubadiving demo it’s us inside that cage, looking at the shark. The player is basically placed inside the game. This doesn’t work for Among the Sleep.

We can experiment with removing all the camera movements and techniques from the game in VR but this completely destroys the feeling of being a small child. We can adjust or remove other mechanics, but the end result is never satisfying enough.

After a lot of experimentation we have come to the conclusion that Among the Sleep – the story we want to tell and the relationship we want to build between the player and the child – isn’t doable for virtual reality. It requires a lot of compromises that ends up making the VR experience less powerful, less immersive and less satisfying than the original game.

Parts of the game work. When the original Oculus Rift DK1 arrived, it was thrilling to be able to explore the child’s house in VR. The perspective tricked players into thinking they were small kids. The original Oculus-implementation was a software hack and the novelty value was great. However, when exploring the possibilities of recreating the whole game for VR and upgrading to DK2 and other VR-systems we have hit all these stumbling blocks and found that the original experience we wanted the players to experience with our game isn’t really translatable to VR.

What now?

Just to remind you, we do have a fully supported DK1 build of Among the Sleep, so please do not think we have not tried.

We are now considering using assets from the game for a smaller and more focused VR-demo. A tight and focused experience tailored for VR. It will be a small part of the game, stand alone from the rest of the story, but a much better VR-experience than the original game forced into virtual reality.

We are humbled and flattered that some of you are still waiting for a full VR-experience of Among the Sleep. But we don’t want to give you a half-assed VR-experience that feels forced and compromised. We’re very sorry to disappoint you.

36 Comments
  • Sterling Treadwell
    Posted at 19:34h, 21 September Reply

    Do the vr demo with the DLC!!! Being able to just navigate the house and outside with the oculous would be amazing! SNOW FLAKES FTW!!

  • LtD Clan | VR version of Among the Sleep is no longer in development - LtD Clan
    Posted at 20:50h, 21 September Reply

    […] problem, Krillbyte’s Kristina Halvorsen explained on the studio’s blog, is that the techniques used to emulate the actions and perspective of a small […]

  • VR version of Among the Sleep is no longer in development | IHeartGames
    Posted at 22:01h, 21 September Reply

    […] problem, Krillbyte’s Kristina Halvorsen explained on the studio’s blog, is that the techniques used to emulate the actions and perspective of a small […]

  • Infant horror game Among the Sleep is no longer getting VR support | The Daily Ding
    Posted at 23:56h, 21 September Reply

    […] Studio has released a blog post explaining why the game is no longer coming to VR. Essentially, it just wasn’t working as a […]

  • Infant horror game Among the Sleep is no longer getting VR support - Evil Bunny 3K
    Posted at 00:15h, 22 September Reply

    […] Studio has released a blog post explaining why the game is no longer coming to VR. Essentially, it just wasn’t working as a […]

  • Among the Sleep não terá mais suporte ao Oculus Rift | QuadNation
    Posted at 01:14h, 22 September Reply

    […] As informações oficiais foram divulgadas no Blog da Killbrite Studio. […]

  • Nik Stromberg
    Posted at 01:57h, 22 September Reply

    I’m extremely disappointed by this news. Although I do understand how challenging it must be, to do this game in VR..
    VR support was pretty much the sole reason why I backed this game on kickstarter. And I’ve been waiting ever since, to hear more news about VR support.
    This development team is really talented, and I hope they’re able to figure out a way to develop for VR more in the future! Please don’t give up on VR, it is an amazing future for video games, and after personally playing games on an Oculus Rift for a few years now, I don’t want to go back to normal gaming on a 2D screen.

    • Kristina Halvorsen
      Posted at 07:44h, 22 September Reply

      We understand your disappointment. Like said, we are sorry about this. We are also very curious about what VR will bring us. We have learned so much about VR and how it works and we will use all this for the better in the future.

  • VR version of Among the Sleep is no longer in development — ایران وب لینک
    Posted at 02:44h, 22 September Reply

    […] problem, Krillbyte’s Kristina Halvorsen explained on the studio’s blog, is that the techniques used to emulate the actions and perspective of a small […]

  • AngryKSBacker
    Posted at 08:51h, 22 September Reply

    You will see that this is the wrong move.. FAIL

  • VR-Version von Among the Sleep eingestellt - PIXELBURG
    Posted at 09:47h, 22 September Reply

    […] Quelle: Krillbite […]

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 10:38h, 22 September Reply

    […] Halvorsen, dello studio Krillbyte, ha annunciato sul blog ufficiale dello sviluppatore che la versione per la realtà virtuale di Among the Sleep è stata ufficialmente […]

  • Among the Sleep: Kein VR-Support
    Posted at 11:16h, 22 September Reply

    […] Quelle: Krillbite […]

  • Angry Gamers News – Among the Sleep não terá mais versão VR | Angry Gamers
    Posted at 11:21h, 22 September Reply

    […] Fonte: Krillbite […]

  • Infant horror game Among the Sleep is no longer getting VR support - GVMERS GVMERS
    Posted at 13:46h, 22 September Reply

    […] Studio has released a blog post explaining why the game is no longer coming to VR. Essentially, it just wasn’t working as a […]

  • Otkazana VR verzija igre Among the Sleep | PC Igre
    Posted at 14:20h, 22 September Reply

    […] VR verziju igre nije moguće uspješno razviti. Kristina Halvorsen iz Krillbytea objasnila je na službenom blogu studija da su tehnike emuliranja akcija i perspektive malog djeteta, kao što su “geganje” prilikom […]

  • Luke Keppler
    Posted at 17:13h, 22 September Reply

    Just unlock the camera during cut-scenes when using VR.

    A big reason I backed it was VR support.

  • Among the Sleep não receberá versão para realidade virtual
    Posted at 01:37h, 23 September Reply

    […] era de que ele seria compatível com dispositivos de realidade virtual, os criadores do game revelaram que isso não deverá […]

  • Kenny Roy
    Posted at 01:21h, 24 September Reply

    I have to point out that this game sounds like most of the ‘features’ that you were going for, are actually the glaring weaknesses of VR, and have been so for a while. I’m very curious how these decisions were made or how this got greenlit in the first place.

    • Kristina Halvorsen
      Posted at 07:30h, 24 September Reply

      Hi, Kenny!

      As we say, we have a full DK1 implementation, so we have worked on this. We just didn’t release until too late how bad the mixture of VR and our features were. It basically comes down to inexperience with VR, which is the same for most developers, but we were also inexperienced in game development at all – it was our first game after all. We do cherish all the experience we now have! Does that make it any clearer?

  • Авторы Among the Sleep отменили разработку VR-версии игры - itfm.pro
    Posted at 16:45h, 24 September Reply

    […] не работает над VR-версией своего хоррора Among the Sleep. Как объясняют разработчики, игра совершенно не подходит для этой […]

  • Matthew van Andel
    Posted at 19:14h, 25 September Reply

    This is not what I backed on Kickstarter. Please refund my pledge.

  • Авторы Among the Sleep отменили разработку VR-версии игры | Торрент портал
    Posted at 05:37h, 27 September Reply

    […] не работает над VR-версией своего хоррора Among the Sleep. Как объясняют разработчики, игра совершенно не подходит для этой […]

  • Авторы Among the Sleep отменили разработку VR-версии игры | Soft-portal
    Posted at 17:20h, 28 September Reply

    […] не работает над VR-версией своего хоррора Among the Sleep. Как объясняют разработчики, игра совершенно не подходит для этой […]

  • [8:46] : revivre le 11 septembre en réalité virtuelle ? | The Pixel Hunt
    Posted at 07:57h, 29 September Reply

    […] pas aboutir à des expériences très pertinentes, comme les développeurs d’Among the Sleep ont pu en faire l’expérience récemment. D’un point de vue ergonomique, cognitif ou artistique, les enjeux sont beaucoup trop […]

  • Experience Horror Through a Child's Eyes in Among the Sleep PS4 This December
    Posted at 17:16h, 29 September Reply

    […] due to a variety of reasons (motion sickness being one of them), Krillbite isn’t adding VR support to Among the […]

  • Kylie J Marsh
    Posted at 04:16h, 30 September Reply

    I played the whole game in vr last year (when I worked up enough courage lol). It was great! The only problem was when the mother was carrying me at the beginning. Yes having your virtual head controlled like that felt horrible, but any problem that I felt after that was, to me, due to the limitations of the dk1. Latency, low-resolution, rotation only, etc. Not a failing on your part. The reasons you’ve listed, are things that I, and I suspect some other people too, have not even noticed or considered was a problem or would be “half-assed”, save for the cut-scene at the beginning.

    When I tell someone about vr now, I tell them about your game, it has become the premiere game I show to people when I get people to try out vr. I’m a creator too, and I’ve realized the things that I think people will have a problem with is completely missed, while others are problems I didn’t think some people could have a problem with. I know I won’t be able you sway you, but please reconsider. The fear that I felt in vr was far more intense than when I first played it on my 73 inch TV.

    If not I’ll just congratulate you guys on a job well done! Not too many games come along that stick with me, even if I consider worth while enough to buy, Among the Sleep was one of them.

    PS I hope you’re making more 🙂

    • Kristina Halvorsen
      Posted at 07:33h, 30 September Reply

      Hi, Kylie!

      Thank you so much for your feedback. We’re humbled that our game has stuck with you as a great experience 🙂

      Hope you get many more awesome VR experiences!

  • Child horror game Among the Sleep comes to PS4 on December 10 | The Gamer Earth
    Posted at 07:55h, 01 October Reply

    […] A PlayStation VR enabled version of Among the Sleep had also been planned, but this was cancelled earlier this month. […]

  • Among the Sleep Dev Drops PSVR Support Too, Mentions 'Standalone VR Version' - VRFocus
    Posted at 14:00h, 01 October Reply

    […] its original blog post, the developer had mentioned the possibility of making a new VR demo. “We are now considering […]

  • Rob
    Posted at 20:42h, 22 October Reply

    Really disappointed, I only purchased it for the VR support. You’re being short sighted, VR games are going to have to use different approaches, embrace it, don’t reject it.

  • VR version of Among the Sleep is no longer in development | Joy Stick Report
    Posted at 11:06h, 17 December Reply

    […] problem, Krillbite’s Kristina Halvorsen explained on the studio’s blog, is that the techniques used to emulate the actions and perspective of a small […]

  • Infant horror game Among the Sleep is no longer getting VR support | VG247
    Posted at 17:10h, 27 February Reply

    […] Studio has released a blog post explaining why the game is no longer coming to VR. Essentially, it just wasn’t working as a […]

  • Star Citizen Will Never Be VR-Compatible – StarCriticism
    Posted at 16:24h, 04 April Reply

    […] of their crowdfunded game, “Among the Sleep”, Kristina Halvorsen with Krillbite Studio describes how forced first person player animations in their game ultimately doomed its […]

  • Trevor Green
    Posted at 20:31h, 21 April Reply

    Bought it and was waiting to play this, just got my vive and noticed it wasn’t on the list, WTF. Then found this.
    Baited.
    Switched.

    Why don’t you do people a favor and open source the code when you are done with whatever you are doing with it. That way someone can put the VR back in so that we can play what you were selling.

  • Mike Kay
    Posted at 07:34h, 03 May Reply

    Hi
    Just a quick note to say I too was looking to buy this for VR and am disappointed HOWEVER having experienced bad VR I totally get why you made this call. VR is a back to the drawing board learning experience as to what works and what doesn’t and I respect you guys for sticking to your vision and not gimping the experience you want to create and also not making a puke fest which actually hurts VR by potentially putting people off with a poor experience.

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