We had a small chat with Steven Martz, Creative Director at Virtro Entertainment about their upcoming PlayStation VR title (and other platforms soon to follow), Run Dorothy Run which, by the time of this article, has been in development for 7 months. This game is a bizarre take on the world of The Wizard of Oz which has players racing down the road (not of yellow bricks), grabbing gems with your Move controllers. It’s music-based, meaning you’ll find a beat to your gem-collecting, and features 16 levels. Why it’s Oz-themed, of all things? We found out!
Regarding the team using The Wizard of Oz IP, Steven says “We really wanted to pull from something more fantastical and “camp” that has a lot of cultural significance, but also a very open-ended interpretation in pop culture. From its initial creation as a literary piece to the dozens of other books, films, and games, people have taken the original story and made it all their own in so many fun and creative ways”.
“Working with VR, the issue of motion sickness and general comfort is always a top priority”
Immediately my follow up question regarded their creative control, as we know that Warner Bros. Pictures currently holds the rights. Martz tells us that him and the development team actually didn’t seek to make any reference to film adaptations of the book. They wanted to start with the original material and make as many of their own creative decisions as possible. In designing the game, they looked at what kinds of cultural impacts other tellings of the story have had, and knew what they could build off of (and intentionally depart from) to make their own re-telling unique.
Regarding any issues that presented themselves and how the team overcame them, Martz says that the biggest challenge was scaling the play area that players interact with accurately enough so that anyone playing would feel they were reaching comfortably for something within range, and not overextending and leaving the safe/intended play-area. Working with VR, the issue of motion sickness and general comfort is always a top priority, and in a game of near-constant motion, the team had to be extremely careful with this. Acceleration, and changes in direction were quickly dropped, as any perceived shift in this value would result in discomfort. The team thought slower, constant speeds would be more palatable, but it actually caused distress when players’ natural head movements could easily counteract the sense of motion.
The studio play-tested this game and its mechanics with nearly 300 participants, and have seldom found anyone who feels discomfort during or after – that’s something to be said, too, for most of the players were first-time VR users, many of whom had histories with some form or another of motion sickness.
Were excited to play Run Dorothy Run when it launches on PlayStation VR later this year!