A Brief Chat With Paper Beast Visionary Eric Chahi
Virtual Reality is a space that allows for immersive simulations that can't normally be achieved with just a traditional controller and television screen. However, you can't just take any plain idea and make it work in VR. Sometimes it takes a unique concept and visionary to come up with something truly immersive for the platform and that's exactly what I'm hoping Paper Beast, the upcoming PlayStation VR exclusive from Pixel Reef and Another World's creative mind Eric Chahi.
Eric Chahi: I'm the creative director of [Paper Beast]. My main role is keeping my vision of a game and doing the right choices.
What made you decide to go with VR for your sandbox simulation Paper Beast?
VR is really unique in terms of immersion because you can really feel the space and size of objects. It's really something you cannot do in any other media. In VR, you really master the size of things. If you want the player to experience a vast space or a closed space, it's possible. It's very interesting to play with this. For Paper Beast, we have creatures of different sizes and we wanted to connect the player to this wildlife and feel it when it's really close to you.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the story that players will experience in Paper Beast?
It's a non-verbal story, meaning that the player will have a journey in this wild open universe where he is the first explorer of this universe. He will meet creatures and there is some exchange and help between the player and some creatures. They will have to use the specificity of certain behaviors of creatures to progress and understand this mysterious world, which has been born out of data and internet hidden in a data server. It's a simulated world, an artificial world, but it's really on the edge of being real. It's a strange feeling because we are creating the feeling of a natural world. The story will drive a player, I don't want to spoil it, but it's very surreal and endearing with a lot of surprising moments.
Do you have a length or chapter count in mind for Paper Beast?
It's always confused in my mind because each chapter is split into different sub-chapters, so I think there are around 12 important paths. Each have a very unique ambiance and mood and different creatures. Players can expect [Paper Beast] around six hours to complete the adventure but it depends on the player.
Do you have collectibles or reasons for players to jump back into an old chapter and explore?
Yes, there is a link with the sandbox in the adventure. Your player will discover an object which represents the sandbox in the second chapter. Once it is done in the adventure, [the player can find] various objects that will unlock creatures in the sandbox. You can finish the adventure then find these objects and there is a second layer of gameplay to find these objects. It's not that hard but there's plenty to do.
I was looking up in the sky and seeing letters that were appearing in the clouds. Are we going to see some secrets that we should keep an eye out for up in the clouds?
Yeah, it's more symbolic. It expresses the fact that this world is a level inside the data. So, we have the clouds which is [inaudible] and we also have some intrusion of data simulator in the game. We play with different kinds of data, but always in a specific way. It has meaning in terms of feeling.
I can talk about the simulation if you want, because what's very unique in this game is the different layers of simulation. The ground and water can sink and flow. The creatures are made of physics and can adapt their motion to what the player does. Here, we have a giant creature lurking near a smaller paper creature and then the creatures adapt [inaudible]. Yeah, and it gives a lot of living feeling.
For the release of Paper Beast, will players be able to just play on PlayStation 4 or will this possibly also come to PlayStation 5?
It's for PlayStation 4 but since the PlayStation 5 is compatible with PlayStation 4, of course, it will work. But there is no specific development for the PlayStation 5 planned.
I haven't seen too much on PlayStation VR working with PlayStation 5. Are there new features or better graphics for that version?
Well, I don't know. We don't have a PS5 kit but it's true that the power of the PlayStation 5 would allow to have a much better sandbox but for now, we can't promise anything because we did not develop anything specifically for PS5. I would love to do something in that direction.
When can players get their hands on Paper Beast?
The timeframe is within one month. [NOTE: Pixel Reef has since announced that Paper Beast will launch on March 24th].
How much is Paper Beast?
You get the story and the simulation, so that's a good value there. How is Paper Beast similar to your previous titles?
You're speaking about Out of This World? There's something common with Another World or Out of This World: non-verbal story. And there is a strong pacing during the adventure and you don't know what is going to happen. There will be a lot of surprise and twist, mainly because the VR environment can change dynamically. It's kind of a mix between Another World and From Dust which was my previous title.
Thank you very much for your time.
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