FuturLab talks Velocity 2X for Vita and PS4
It's been a pretty busy week for the folks over at FuturLab. Taking to the PS Blog, the 10-man indie studio showed off all-new footage of its upcoming PS4/Vita game, Velocity 2X. Though all of the images and footage are of an Alpha build, it's clear that Velocity 2X has made considerable progress since its initial reveal at Eurogamer Expo in 2013.
Looking to learn more about the game, we caught up with FuturLab managing director James Marsden and asked him more about the status of the game, it's added platforming element, and what it's like developing simultaneously for the PS4 and Vita.
GameZone (GZ): The latest screenshots are of an Alpha build, but what sort of progress has been made since Velocity 2X's reveal at Eurogamer Expo in 2013?
James Marsden, FuturLab Managing Director (JM): At Eurogamer we had only the demo levels created, whereas now we are about half way through creating all levels. Some would argue that we’re not even at Alpha, and they’d probably be correct!
The game also lacked visual effects such as particles, dynamic environment lighting, post processing effects such as colour correction amongst others. So, in short, a lot more has been added since Eurogamer.
GZ: The game's predecessor, Velocity Ultra, was released for PS3 (and Vita). What has the PlayStation 4 allowed you to do differently, or better even?
JM: Well, Velocity’s codebase was written for the PSP, so we just added a few lighting effects for the Ultra release on PS Vita. Whereas now working natively on PS Vita and PS4, the ceiling has been taken off. For a 2D game that isn’t going to challenge the hardware in the slightest, it’s meant that the artists can go crazy with layers upon layers of lighting and particle effects that just weren’t possible with Ultra.
GZ: Are the PS4 and PS Vita versions of the game going to be the exact same or can we expect any sort of differentiating features?
JM: They will largely be the same, but we can pack more particles per square pixel (PPQP, lolz) into the PS4 version because you can get away with greater density of information on a TV, whereas on the PS Vita screen it would get cluttered. We can also add more lights on the explosions and environment on the PS4, again without cluttering the scene.
GZ: When bringing a game to the PS4 and the Vita at the same, do you have to sacrifice anything to get it on the handheld? In other words, is the Vita restricting what you can or can't do with the PS4 version?
JM: The game was designed as a Vita experience first and foremost, and we’re scaling to true HD for PS4. On PlayStation Blog we talk about how we actually reached and exceeded our PS4 benchmarks on PS Vita, so we’re really happy with both builds!
GZ: How has the added platforming gameplay element changed the overall Velocity experience?
JM: One of the main strengths of Velocity is the variety of gameplay. There are three different types of level; Speed, Combat and Search & Rescue. It’s this variety that keeps the player from feeling fatigue or boredom. When we told Sony what we wanted to do introducing platforming, we framed it around the idea of effectively doubling the variety. Which is exactly what it does – every level feels exciting because you’re jumping in and out of your ship – it keeps the player on their toes.
GZ: Do you feel that having to focus on a new type of gameplay mechanic has maybe taken away from the shoot em up aspect? Or are both equally as strong?
JM: Velocity wasn’t a conventional shoot ‘em-up, it introduced the concept of scroll boost and teleportation puzzles, taking the genre in a new direction. The platforming is a natural expansion of this idea, adding more interesting types of interaction besides the mindless shooting of stuff. Which, I have to stress, there is plenty of as you can see in the screenshots and gameplay footage =)
GZ: You first started developing PlayStation Minis titles and now your working on a full-fledged PS4 release. How has the transitional period (improvement of technology) been over the years, seeing the evolution of gaming and the launch of the PS4?
JM: It’s been an exhilarating ride for us. We put everything we had into our Minis release hoping that it would catch the attention of Sony, and fortunately that has worked out so far! As for the PS4, it’s a delightful machine for us as a developer, particularly since we’re not taxing the system – we’re able to realize the potential of the art style we’ve set for the game without limit.
GZ: Are you surprised by Sony's commitment to indie developers? How has it helped a studio like FuturLab?
JM: I’m not surprised no, I remember reading about the three game deal that Jenova Chen received straight out of University. That kind of investment in talent is just not seen anywhere else in the industry, and it’s that which drew me to work with PlayStation. Seeing that attitude expand over the last couple of years has been thrilling to watch.
In terms of what Sony has done for us, it sounds trite but they’ve simply helped us to live our dreams.
GZ: When can we expect Velocity 2X to release? Any sort of cross-buy promotion planned?
JM: It will be cross buy and cross save between PS Vita and PS4, but I’m afraid we don’t have a release date yet. There’s still lots to do!
GZ: Before we wrap this up, here's your chance for a sales pitch. Sell me on Velocity 2X and why PlayStation owners should be excited for it (assuming they haven't already seen the awesome-looking gameplay, of course!).
JM: Velocity 2X is luxury fun.
We have a keen sense of rhythm and pace in our studio, and so every level is designed to make the player feel like an absolute bad ass. If you take a look at the critical and fan reception for the first game as a guide – we’ve taken everything that made that work and have applied it to platforming too. With a lot more production value.
Oh yeah, the music is amazing too, as it’s Joris de Man from the Killzone series!