The increasingly popular development team at Facepunch Studios, lead by Garry Newman, have been particularly busy in the last couple of years since their inception, both pushing their hit title ‘Rust‘ and furthering the cult Half-Life 2 extension Garry’s Mod, they are however, not satisfied with the monumental success of these two titles and been trying various new prototype games.
Of particular interest and the focus of this article is Arcade, a first person simulator (with VR support of course) based in customisable retro coin-op arcades where the arcade machines are running community made mini-games designed in C#. The intention is to make this very much like real arcades of the 80s-90s whereby you have a limited number of tokens to operate the machines and can watch over the shoulder of other players and see them progress to stages you’ve never reached before, giving players that huge sense of satisfaction and smug git-ishness as they gleefully wipe your initials off the top spot on the high score board, replacing them with ‘BUM’, ‘TIT’ or ‘LOL’.
A handful of games for Arcade are already completed and more are in the pipeline. They are intentionally small and basic with simple sprites and sound effects that take you back to good old days of Amiga, Atari ST and even predecessors like the Spectrum Sinclair. A custom shader has been designed to make the pixels appear like they did on retro style CRT screens and the arcade cabinets shimmer and shine, reflecting light emitted from the screens. Facepunch Studios have also designed a ‘budget boy dev kit’ (BBDK) to enable the community to create their own mini-games for Arcade. Ryleigh Kostash, explains the mini-game approach in his dev blog:
There’s a huge span of games that game developers generally don’t get to make… because they’re too small. This solves that problem and lets us work on any game we want – no matter how small scale.
Blockparty – One of Ryleigh’s mini-games for Arcade
Among the other features being considered/tried and tested is handing over your game to other players mid-session, another nostalgia inducing feature, reminding me of the days Street Fighter II, where I would sometimes take over from a mate who would be struggling to finish off Zangief (no pun intended) and didn’t know that repeatedly jump kicking on the spot was all that was needed to guarantee victory. This feature of sharing sessions and watching over each other’s shoulder will be particularly brilliant in VR if executed correctly.
Kostash also envisages players being able to run their own servers with a level editor to enable custom arcade rooms with you own choice of games. Even the artwork on the cabinets themselves will be customisable. There will also be a progression system whereby you can win credits for achievements in games and use these on machines costing more credits or on customising your virtar. Machines may even degrade over time with glitches and defects affecting your ability to progress as easily.
Arcade is shaping up nicely and looks set to be a very social and fun game with plenty of replay-ability and longevity. Development is still in it’s early days at the moment but VR-Gaming will be sure to keep you posted as things progress.