AVRL Meeting Jul 2017

Stirfire Studios: “Jamming Towards an Ensemble”

We had lots of new faces at the July AVRL event, and were pleased to welcome attendees from Curtin, ECU, Murdoch and TAFE, as well as a range of software and game developers from the Perth metropolitan area.

Our presenters for the evening were Brendan Ragan and Matt Dyet, Director and Producer of Stirfire Studios, who spoke to the AVRL crowd about their new multi-platform virtual reality game Symphony of the Machine.

Update: You can now watch a video of the presentation on YouTube and view the slides here.

Symphony, as the team refer to it, was released for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Playstation VR earlier this year, after a twelve-month development pipeline involving the whole team at Stirfire.

The game is an immersive VR puzzle game in which the player decodes a series of hieroglyph instructions built into a giant tower to manipulate the weather and nourish a beautiful flower. Unlike other VR games on the market, Symphony of the Machine is set within a “peaceful and serene environment”, highly appealing for those who want to move away from the intensity of most slash ‘n grab games.

The idea for Symphony of the Machine originated at the 2016 Global Game Jam, but was quickly developed to include an incredibly immersive emphasis on spatiality and problem solving in 3D. Matt and Brendan took turns entertaining the AVRL audience describing their iterative production process with meticulous testing of code and public trials at all stages of the project. Brendan advised that, for valuable feedback, you should use both VR novices and those more familiar with VR for trials in this medium.

The audience was treated to an overview of the production of the mixed-reality game launch trailer, which involved working with a talented puppeteer in a motion capture studio. Brendan and Matt also talked about ongoing production management and working within the limits of the current VR market.

The team also stressed the importance of building on multiple platforms and developing game-play audio right from the start of the project, and outlined some of the benefits and pitfalls of building across multiple console types. Brendan and Matt also covered some of the coding and touch interface issues of creating games in virtual reality, and gave our audience some great advice about working with the major video game platforms such as Sony, HTC and Valve.

After questions, all of our attendees had the option of trying Symphony of the Machine on Playstation VR or Oculus Rift. The game was truly beautiful to play, with an almost Aztec visual style and vibrant landscape. For a relative VR novice, the controls were intuitive and easy to master, leaving players to get down to the business of solving the game’s mysteries!

Author: Jane-Heloise Nancarrow.