Secret Sorcery: VR ‘Allows us to Totally Immerse Players in Our Virtual Worlds’

With VR set to provide a plethora of unique and innovative titles, what will make Secret Sorcery’s unannounced IP stand out from its competition?

Beyond the original approach to our chosen genre — something that’s been recognised by our friends at PlayStation — and unrivalled player comfort, we’ve crafted a suite of simple and empowering gameplay mechanics, wrapped in a beautiful visual style that further enhances immersion. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to leave!

Why PlayStation VR? Why not opt for using Oculus Rift or HTC Vive?

We’ve had a fantastic relationship with Sony over the years and given our in-depth knowledge and experience of working with PlayStation, it made perfect sense for us to play to our strengths. With that said, we have an excellent rapport with all of the VR hardware manufacturers. We started our prototyping with an Oculus kit, and we have Vive and [Razer’s] OSVR in our playroom. We’re passionate about VR!

What’s it like partnering with Sony on this project?

It’s brilliant to be working with Sony again, albeit a different part of the organisation. They’ve provided us with development hardware and support and continue to offer feedback on progress without undermining our creative ownership.

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR, formerly called Project Morpheus, will arrive in October 2016. Sony will hope PSVR resonates more with consumers than other VR headsets on the market.

Before Sony’s involvement with the IP, did you receive any contact from a publisher to support the studio’s up-and-coming title?

We spoke to and visited a number of publishers around the time of Gamescom last year. They all liked our pitch and the accompanying prototype, but [they] were strategically reluctant to commit to VR prior to consumer launch.

Will Secret Sorcery’s future be tied to the success of its first title?

Absolutely not. We’ve already established ourselves as a studio with a strong supporting team in a field that will see huge growth over the coming years. We also have new game concepts in early development and commercial opportunities waiting in the wings. Success will only accelerate our plans for universal domination.

As a UK-based developer, how did it make you feel when you heard the news of Microsoft’s recent closure of Lionhead Studios and Sony disbanding Evolution Studios?

It’s always saddening to hear about studio closures, especially when they’re long-standing, critically acclaimed developers with indisputable pedigree. We’ve collectively spent hundreds of hours playing Populous, Black & White and Fable and were eagerly awaiting the arrival of [Fable] Legends.

The Evolution news was even more poignant given our core team’s prior association with the studio, compounded by me being one of its co-founders. All of us have friends and former colleagues there who’ve been affected. Hopefully, they’ll look back on their achievements with pride, share memories of the good times they had and rise to new challenges as the industry continues to evolve.

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Lionhead Studios, the award-winning Guildford-based developer co-founded by Peter Molyneux, was unable to release Fable Legends, which had been in development since the summer of 2012, before its untimely demise in April 2016.

Did the news of two high-profile UK gaming studios closing down have an effect on morale at Secret Sorcery? It must be disheartening to hear news of this magnitude, especially for a newly established studio operating in the UK.

Of course. Everyone here at Secret Sorcery knew people affected by the closures. It’s really sad to see great teams disbanded and talented individuals who we know and care about go through this upheaval and uncertainty.

Perhaps our story — a small group of passionate developers uniting to channel their creativity and make cool things happen — will show that these awful situations can yield amazing opportunities.

We know that the majority of the Evolution team are already moving on to pastures new, and we’ve been fortunate enough to welcome one of them to join us here at Secret Sorcery. She’s now helping us to create magical VR!

Does Secret Sorcery have close ties with any other developers in the UK? You know, maybe as a way to cross notes on each other’s projects or share some handy development tricks and tips?

We have many games industry friends here in the UK. When we were setting the studio up, the guys at Nomad Games, Starship and Firesprite — whose work we always follow with interest — were all really supportive. Being able to call upon their wisdom and insight really helped us to lay solid foundations. Other noteworthy mentions include the guys at The Post House, Nero Creative, Catalyst and Ripstone, who’ve all helped us over the last year.

We’re not sharing notes at this stage — primarily because we’ve got our heads down in production — but I’m sure we’ll be returning favours (or paying it forward) once the dust has settled.

When will be expected to hear the first details on Secret Sorcery’s title?

As soon as possible!

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