One of essentially the most nice surprises ultimately week’s PlayStation State of Play was the stream opening with an announcement for Moss: Book II. First launched in 2018, Moss revolutionized what was doable in VR, permitting for not solely participant immersion, however reference to one other character in ways in which flat-screen video games simply can’t handle. Players—known as the “Reader”—turned a part of the story, and solid a bond with Quill, a small mouse on a harmful quest. Through sensible use of animation, interactions, music, writing, and extra, Polyarc created an adventure unlike any other, and one thing that would solely be achieved via the usage of VR.
With the thrilling announcement of a sequel, I needed to sit down with Polyarc to speak extra in regards to the developer persevering with Quill’s—and the Reader’s—journey. Just hours after the trailer reveal, I used to be on a name with Polyarc Principal Engineer & Design Director Joshua Stiksma. He appeared fairly thrilled to lastly get to speak about Moss: Book II.
“I know, it’s pretty rare that VR developers get this opportunity,” he mentioned once I expressed my shock on the announcement of a sequel. I had recognized Polyarc was revealing one thing, however oddly, the considered a sequel to Moss by no means crossed my thoughts. He informed me that although additional adventures have been at all times in thoughts after the unique Moss (with the “Book 1” tease actually organising the opportunity of extra), it was extra hopeful than explicitly deliberate on the time. VR remains to be a comparatively area of interest platform, and whereas it presents distinctive capabilities, its attain doesn’t develop practically so far as extra conventional recreation releases.
Production on Book II didn’t begin in earnest till about two years in the past. Stiksma informed me that they first wished to give attention to strengthening the group via launch on further VR platforms and then offering additional assist with the discharge of the free Twilight Garden addition. Building up that group was what allowed them to lastly get to work on a full correct sequel, one which Stiksma says is a good longer expertise this time round.
I wished to get a sense of what makes Moss: Book II completely different from the primary, and how it could proceed to revolutionize the medium, somewhat than simply give us Moss once more. Critically, Polyarc is doubling down on the central pillars of what made the primary so nice. Primarily which means Quill stays on the heart of the expertise, and the participant’s bond along with her is what all the pieces else is constructed round. And as a result of that is a sequel, maybe a higher phrase than revolutionize is “refine.” While Moss set the stage, Book II refines, evolves, and adapts.
This signifies that along with gamers persevering with to construct that bond with Quill via the journey, that different immersive parts are expanded as effectively. The pleasure of interacting with the setting. The capacity to have extra distinctive interactions with Quill each in an out of fight. A broader vary of feelings like triumph, uncertainty, and heartbreak. And as a longer journey, gamers will get to spend much more time with Quill.
One of the opposite issues Stiksma informed me they’re engaged on is balancing the sport being approachable, however retaining a specific amount of depth and curiosity. While one of many key interactions with Quill is her capacity to assist information the participant with puzzles, they’ll’t do the identical factor with the sport’s fight. Moss: Book II ought to additional evolve the fight to be each extra attention-grabbing via parts just like the participant charging Quill’s weapon, and even new weapons for Quill to wield. Stiksma says he’s significantly excited in regards to the animations for her new hammer, which do a nice job conveying the burden of this new weapon she’s swinging round.
Moss set the stage not only for its personal sequel, however for VR interactions throughout many video games, and I wished to know if Stiksma had seen some other VR experiences within the three years since its launch that he felt we’re uniquely utilizing the know-how. He talked about a few video games, however one particularly that caught his consideration was Ghost Giant, due to its similarity to Moss in connecting the participant emotionally with the characters and bodily bringing the participant into the world and the story. Overall, nonetheless, he’s been somewhat impressed with the assorted distinctive ways in which builders have taken to the VR platforms.
The literary focus of the Moss sequence had me interested by Polyarc’s inspirations. The opening of the Moss: Book II trailer has a somewhat “Lord of the Rings” really feel to it—thanks each to Morla Gorrondona’s haunting Galadriel-like narration and visuals which are harking back to the Eye of Sauron (I had truly thought for a second Polyarc was doing a LOTR recreation). Stiksma famous the comparability however informed me I’d have to attach with the writing staff for extra on that one.
And sure, Morla Gorrondona is again because the narrator, together with Jason Graves confirmed once again doing the soundtrack, and most of the unique Moss growth staff engaged on the sequel. “The band is back together,” Stiksma mentioned. He went on to elucidate that everybody placing one thing into Moss: Book II is somebody who believes in what the studio is doing; a group of passionate builders and creators throughout many disciplines that each one come collectively to make Moss a wholly immersive and participating expertise for the participant—you, expensive reader. There are some new faces as effectively, together with a new animator Lianne Cruz becoming a member of Richard Lico in making Quill really feel exceptionally actual. That mix of the outdated staff and contemporary views ought to assist Moss: Book II obtain a stability of retaining what made it so particular whereas additionally pushing it ahead in new instructions.
While Book II will nearly assuredly launch on different VR platforms simply as the primary recreation did, Polyarc has presently solely confirmed Moss: Book II in growth on the platform that you just would possibly name Quill’s dwelling: PSVR. But contemplating Moss: Book II missing a launch date—and even window—presently, and Sony’s next-gen PlayStation VR for PS5 confirmed in development, I needed to ask if there have been any connections that may very well be drawn there. After all, I can solely think about that Sony would wish to get its new PS5 PSVR tech into the fingers of essentially the most avant-garde VR builders, and Polyarc actually qualifies.
“Nice try,” Stiksma mentioned, shaking his head whereas he smiled and laughed. “Moss: Book II is currently only confirmed in development for PlayStation VR on PS4, also playable on PS5 via backwards compatibility and the PSVR adapter.” Though one thing in regards to the look in his eye informed me this might not be the tip of that specific dialog. It’s one thing I think about we’ll revisit every time Sony decides to disclose extra about its next-gen PSVR headset. For now, I accepted Stiksma’s response with a grin. “I had to ask,” I mentioned with a slight shrug and a understanding nod. I thanked him for his time, congratulated him on the reveal, and we ended the decision.
Over the approaching weeks and months, we’ll be speaking to extra builders throughout the assorted disciplines at Polyarc to assist paint a extra full image of what Moss: Book II is aiming to do. From writing to music to animation and tech, that is simply the primary in a sequence of conversations we’ll be having in regards to the subsequent stage of Quill’s journey.
We’d wish to thank Joshua Stiksma for taking the time to speak to us about Moss: Book II, and stay up for listening to extra from the staff at Polyarc.