One of the most fun areas at EGX 2022 this year was the VR Zone where the awesome Fast Travel Games had several of their upcoming titles being showcased. If you wanted to get hands-on with VR gaming and check out some of these titles, then this was the place to be!
I sat down with Andreas Juliusson, the Chief Marketing Officer at Fast Travel Games, to geek out over the titles they brought with them and talk all things VR gaming.
[Edited for clarity and length]
How did you find the transition between development and publishing?
It’s amazing to see how many smaller developers are out there with great games and ideas in development. We can use our experience to help them get the content out there. Many developers, for example, do not have much experience with marketing and PR strategy, or advertising and working with influencers so we can use our experiences to help them with that. We had over thirty games pitched to us at Gamescom alone this year and had to turn many of them away because it was too many.
Do you take pitches often?
We do, we get pitches almost daily. When we look at them, we specifically must curate and look at what we think will be a success and what the audience will want.
What are your criteria when deciding what to publish?
We look for heart and passion in the product – it sounds cliché but it’s so crucial. Working with developers who really care for the product. We also want diversity in the games we take on and really expand our portfolio making sure we have plenty of variety. Quality is also important. A lot of people consider the games we publish to be ours, so they must meet our standards for attention to detail.
What’s it like developing for VR over flat-screen games?
Flat screen games have been developed for how many years? Slowly and surely there has been a standardisation in genres and control mechanics for them. Nothing is that surprising anymore. In VR, there is so much innovation in controllers and haptics and so we must innovate. We can’t just make one controller setup as it must feel like you’re doing the action, which is different in every game. The second thing we have to ask is why VR – why make this game for VR and not flat-screen? Per game, the answer differs, we want to take the player into a different world – to fast travel there.
That’s actually how the company got its name. The fastest way to travel to a new world is to put a headset on. Immersion is so important to that. If we make a space game, for example, like we are now with Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game, it’s about taking the player into that universe.
What has Fast Travel Games announced?
We’ve announced two games. The first one is our own, Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game, and then there’s one we’re publishing, Guardians Frontline.
(See further down for more details on these games!)
So, with games you’re publishing your role is to take it from where it is now, like Guardians Frontline being on AppLab, and pushing to full release. Can you tell me more about that process?
So, part of that is to secure an optimal launch window so we work closely with Meta and Valve to secure that. We also help the developers make decisions on features and content that we feel are suited for the market audience. We can use our experience to guide them and help them pick the best features, you can’t do it all and include every idea! One of the other things we do is help with marketing and PR so more people become aware of these games. Finally, we make trailers in collaboration with developers, update key assets and deal with social media advertising. Some developers want to hand it over totally, often there’s a lot of collaboration though.
So, what’s next in the VR landscape?
Even though VR has piqued a lot in the last few years, especially with the Quest 1 and now 2 hitting the market which has broadened the audience, I think next year it’s going to be massive. Sony is coming back in the game with PSVR2. While PSVR1 was a massive success when it came out it died after a few years because the headset was good, but the controllers weren’t. It lacked support from Sony. Now they’re seriously developing to be the console leader in VR.
Secondly, we’re seeing competition in the untethered space. Meta has had the monopoly for a while but it’s great to see companies like PICO who have announced a headset. HTC is likely working on something new. It’s also rumoured Valve is working on a standalone too. This competition is really healthy and with companies also looking to Asia it’s opening a whole new market. In the past, Asia hasn’t been considered, PSVR didn’t really take off there, and Quest 2 only just launched in some places. It’s going to be amazing to work with Asian companies on VR projects.
We know we’ll be releasing on PSVR2 and as a studio, we try and aim for multiplatform. We all come from different backgrounds and want as many people as possible to play so try not to be console exclusive.
Is converting content from one platform to another difficult to do?
To most people, it’s seamless. PSVR2, for example, will feel different and will take a lot of time because of the haptics and graphical power possibilities. It will be a challenge, and we probably won’t see simultaneous releases as a result. We must be sure that each version works for its platform, otherwise, you’ll have compromises that won’t make gameplay fun because it won’t quite align with say the controllers.
So, for someone just getting into VR – what’s the headset to buy today?
Now, today I think the one to get is the Quest 2. It’s affordable. It’s also all you need. You get the headset and controllers. Next year will be interesting – if you have a PS5 you’ll probably be interested in the PSVR2.
(We then talked about the games detailed further down)
So, what drew you to VR?
Fast Travel Games started for the founders as it did for me, we were at another company and tried out VR for the first time. It was an Occulus development kit and in our IT Department, I got to try out a mech game. Just being inside the mech was cool and I was told to do something and then suddenly, I was flying. I got goosebumps and knew I needed to work in VR. The founders felt the same – they had to work in VR and had a dream of a start-up. That dream plus trying VR for the first time led to Fast Travel Games being formed back in 2016.
Do you think VR is the next evolution of gaming?
I’m not sure because people talk about VR being the next big thing to replace standard gaming, but I don’t agree. It has its place among gamers but sits alongside flat-screen and even mobile gaming. I think we’re going to see a lot of different ways to play games. VR is a very unique system, and I will wait for certain titles in VR, so I don’t ruin the experience. It might not be the next big thing, but VR is definitely a big thing. The constant innovation, affordability, ease of use, and accessibility are all factors in this.
Do you think augmented reality is something Fast Travel Games will dabble in or develop for?
We’re always exploring technical innovations and new ways of engaging gamers. As of today, we are 100% focused on VR but we wouldn’t close any doors. The team is always keen to explore so I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we did something.
What’s your favourite kind of VR game?
It’s all about immersion for me, so I only really play first-person games at a slow pace. With a focus on exploration. I want to be taken somewhere and actually believe I’m somewhere else. When I was playing Resident Evil 4, I was in the headset for an hour, just beaten 50 odd zombies, and was going to take a breather in a shed. I got in there and there was one big monster, and I grabbed a grenade from my chest and threw it. What had actually happened was I’d thrown my controller across the room and heard it smash on the floor! I was so happy because I was so immersed! I had to throw the grenade in my hand.
The Games from Fast Travel Games
Developed by MobX Games and published by Fast Travel Games comes a fast-paced fantasy action game. EverSlaught Invasion is built from the ground up for VR and features both single-player and co-op modes.
As a hero for the secretive Cleric, you are tasked with defeating evil and stopping the evil Corrupted faction. You can pick one of three unique classes: Warrior, Rogue, and Vanguard, each with their own unique playstyle and gear.
The game features a deep progression system that fans of ‘flat screen’ action-adventure games will appreciate, with a lot of loot that can be gathered, and skill unlocks in the game’s deep progression system. Inspired by classics like DOOM, EVERSLAUGHT Invasion is incredible, fast-paced fun.
One of the absolute standout features is the hookshot! You can use it to traverse the impressive world, or even in combat. This feature worked well and was incredibly fun! The game also features randomly generated dungeons ensuring gameplay is always fresh and exciting.
EVERSLAUGHT Invasion is coming out in early 2023 on Meta Quest 2 and is available on SteamVR in early access.
What do you get if you take detailed research into sword combat and pair it with a beautifully hand-painted art style? Broken Edge. Developed by Trebuchet and published by Fast Travel Games, Broken Edge is a 1v1 sword-fighting brawler.
What really impressed me with Broken Edge is that the development team really did their research on sword combat. Working out the physics of each sword type and how they would be used. As a fencer, I totally geeked out that the moves I would use in real life translated to the game.
In the game, you embody a historical swordfighter and can use their unique techniques and powers to claim victory against your opponents. All the weapons are unique, and you’ll need to master each one if you are to be able to dominate your foes. Timing and tactics are crucial. Honestly, if you’ve ever swung a sword or stick or lightsaber around wanting to duel, this is the game for you.
The game also features an online global contest to be the best swordfighter… in the world.
Broken Edge is coming to SteamVR and Meta Quest 2 in November 2022.
We Are One
We Are One from Flat Head Studio and published by Fast Travel Games is a unique puzzle shooter. In this game, you are fighting for the cause of Mother Nature and all living things against evil mechanical enemies in the game’s story mode.
Featuring a mix of gunplay and clever environmental puzzles spread across more than 50 levels. What makes this game unique, however, is the use of timeloops and allies. Except your allies are your clones. It will be mastery of the clones and timeloops that allow you to succeed – whether that’s in battle or to solve the puzzles. For example, you can throw grenades to yourself to blow up that hard-to-reach enemy!
The art style for We Are One is distinctive, vibrant, and unique and one that’s a real joy to experience.
We Are One is set for release in 2023 on multiple VR platforms. It is available in demo mode on App Labs and SteamVR.
Guardians Frontline is an epic sci-fi shooter with plenty of strategy elements. Developed by VirtualAge and published by Fast Travel Games.
In the game, you wield various weapons and vehicles to complete your objectives. From gravity guns to mechs and spaceships this game offers you it all! Blending the gameplay of high-action FPS games like HALO with RTS elements of beloved classics like StarCraft, Guardians Frontline is an experience like nothing I’ve seen. It’s everything I wanted in a VR Starship Troopers game, but with a unique and original IP.
Building turrets, structures, and units before jumping straight into the action on the front lines. The game features a single-player campaign to protect the Federation that can also be played by up to four players in co-op mode. Finally, up to 8 players can battle it out in a tense, strategic PvP battle. With the addition of an in-game level editor that can share maps with the community, there is infinite replayability value and new tactics to learn.
One of the coolest features about Guardians Frontline is how community-driven the game is and has been through early access playtesting. Specifically, community-built maps, and it’s been confirmed this feature will remain in the final release.
Guardians Frontline will be released in early 2023 on SteamVR and Meta Quest 2.
Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game
From Fast Travel Games comes an exciting new installment in the Stellaris franchise. In this action-rogue-lite game, you play in a god-like mode to captain your ship and battle or befriend a multitude of aliens in your search for the Ghost Signal.
One of the cool features is that outer space is populated by a lot of other players too. While there are no plans for PvP in outer space, you will be able to loot the ships of defeated players you find. This adds some great immersion to the game, and makes it feel more real. Perfect in a VR experience.
Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game allows you to partake in space battles, encounter planet-sized aliens, gather valuable loot, and carry out important research. While the game has a non-linear feel there is very much a core story. As part of the research you can do, you can progress along numerous skill trees to improve your ship and abilities.
Alongside the story, you can also explore randomised maps to make every session feel unique. There will also be Daily Challenges and global and local leaderboards.
During our discussion, Andreas explained how assets were provided by the developers of Stellaris and, while this isn’t the first time Fast Travel Games have jumped into someone else’s universe, it’s still a scary endeavour. Balancing the requirements of a VR game against ensuring that things feel familiar to core Stellaris players. This authenticity to the original is what makes Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game an exciting evolution of a sci-fi classic. There is nothing like this in the VR space right now.
Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game comes out in 2023 on Meta Quest 2.
Fast Travel Games General Information
For information about Fast Travel Games and everything they develop and publish head to their website.
Special thanks to Andreas and the whole Fast Travel Games team for taking the time to talk to me, and show off the amazing VR games they’ve got coming!