We want to go into a little more detail about what you can expect from Esper 2, so we’ve put together this Q and A with Paul, game design lead for both Esper and Esper 2.
Have a read to find out more about the game and discover a secret or two!
Were you excited to be able to expand on Esper and make a second game?
After we made Esper, we weren’t even sure we were going to make another VR game. Making Esper was just this really fun experience that we got to do with an interesting new technology. It was our first proper attempt at making a complete VR experience, and if it wasn’t successful, that was fine. It was still a worthy learning experience.
When we started to hear back that people were really enjoying Esper and wanted to see more, I was frankly astonished. I know that we made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of things since the game, so we had plenty of ideas on how we could improve for a sequel. As we thought about it we realised there were so many avenues we could expand towards. New environments, new mechanics, new characters. It was one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on since we started this company.
Can you talk a little about some of the things you learned while making Esper and how you applied them to Esper 2?
The most difficult thing about making Esper was keeping the entire thing in one room. That meant the room that we built had to be continually rebuilt throughout the entire development cycle, in such a way that it would support later content without breaking earlier content. This also made it incredibly difficult to light well for a mobile device.
Since we wanted to take the player to multiple environments in Esper 2, this gave us the opportunity to focus on making each area look as good as it can, as each room only contains 1 or two puzzles, making it much easier to set up and light and less likely to need reworking.
What’s the story? What can players expect to be faced with?
I’m reluctant to spoil what happens at the end of Esper as many people still haven’t played it yet due to the Samsung Gear VR not being commercially available yet.
For now I’ll say that the story continues from a year after Esper. The player will be visiting multiple varied locations, each with their own unique gameplay mechanics. Geoff will be returning in a big way, along with a whole new set of characters.
Were you happy about Geoff returning? Would you say he is an essential component in the “Esper” universe?
Geoff had to return. It wouldn’t be Esper without him, but we wanted to explore what other characters from that universe would be like, and if they’d be just as mad as Geoff. There are actually a few other characters mentioned in the first game, but they never speak directly to the player. We’ve brought at least one of them back and given them a voice this time round to see what they have to say about the events of Esper and what they think of the player.
Can players expect to see a big difference in gameplay? Can you describe a specific puzzle that differs to the puzzles in Esper?
We changed the controls a little in response to some valuable feedback from Esper 1. The player can lift much heavier objects than they were able to in the first game, and they can vary the power of their throw by moving the object closer, sacrificing vision for throwing power.
In terms of a specific puzzle? I don’t want to spoil too much, but one thing that people can infer from the fact that they’ll be visiting multiple environments, is that they’ll actually be moving around this time, instead of sitting in the same place for the entirety of the game. We take advantage of this, so sometimes a puzzle might require you to look at it from a different position in order to be able to solve it.
What did you enjoy the most about making Esper 2?
Getting to work with the voice actors. They’re so fun to work with, it barely feels like work. Everyone was extremely helpful, offering to do alternative versions of their lines if they had an idea for where to take their character. after their voices were added to the game, everything fell into place and we realised we had something truly special to show off.
Anything else you would like to add?
There’s a secret room very early in the game. It’s really hard to unlock and I’m interested to see how long it takes for someone to find it. I’ll say no more.