Eurogamer Expo 2013: Interview - Surgeon Simulator 2013 (Part 2)
Last week we had Creator-in-Chief, Imre Jele, and Junior Developer, Luke Williams, talking about the origins and the (lack of) formula behind their runaway success, Surgeon Simulator 2013.
But that was not all that we spoke to them about in the back of a decommissioned ambulance at Eurogamer Expo 2013. Having talked about the past, Jele and Williams then looked towards the future, specifically their port of the game to the much anticipated VR platform, the Oculus Rift, plus their progress on an iOS version of the game.
Riding the Rift
"So, Oculus Rift is quite important to us," explain Jele. "We, at the company, have been backing this stuff from day one. We actually have started running a VR development group as well, because we are wholeheartedly supporting this."
Indeed, Surgeon Simulator 2013 was available to play on the Oculus Rift at the game's booth, but also at the platform's own showcase, in HD. We were even given a chance to don on the headset and give the game a whirl to see just what its like on this exciting new piece of tech.
Even though it's still in alpha, it looks great. It's still tricky and maddening to play, but the immersive 3D environment was a real surprise and suited the game perfectly, losing none the colourful sociopathic charm that has made it what it is.
"[Surgeon Simulator 2013 and the Oculus Rift] are almost like they were made for each other," exclaims Williams.
But investing in the VR industry has historically been incredibly risky, with VR technology desperately trying to launch itself as a staple of gaming for two decades now: it's never really taken off. However, Jele feels that it's time has really come about, or at least hopes it has.
"In a year’s time, we’ll know if it was a fad or a takeover of the games industry. I hope it’s a success; I really want it to be. I was around in the nineties when the original VFX-1 Helmet [came out]. I remember spending so much money on it that I could have bought a car with that money!"
Despite previously sinking a significant amount of personal money into VR back in the day, Jele's far from pessimistic about the potential success of the Oculus Rift, and feels the interest from gamers at Eurogamer Expo 2013 is as good an omen as any.
"If it picks up, everyone will jump on the back of it. We had the same with 3D, and we had the same with motion controllers. The queues at the Oculus Rift booth hopefully prove that this is going to happen. When you have one of the biggest queues [at the expo], it shows there is commercial interest. It’s not just us, it’s not just developers and journalist, but players as well."
But it's not just Surgeon Simulator 2013 that are behind the Oculus Rift. Other games, particularly indie ones like Montague's Mount, were also showcasing their titles on the platform. Indeed, people were queuing at these indie booths just for a go on the Oculus Rift, regardless of what game they were playing.
iPad-ing Things Out
As well as putting Surgeon Simulator 2013 into 3D virtual reality, they're also looking a future for the game on a much flatter platform. Exclusively to invited press attending Eurogamer Expo 2013, Jele and Williams were revealing and demonstrating a working prototype of the game for iOS, specifically for the iPad. However, it wasn't always their intention to port the full game over to the popular tablet.
"'Lets make a game that is easy to make and we can just put it out there. It can be branded by Surgeon Simulator 2013, like a mini-game, or something'...But quickly we realised that would be lying to our audience." - Imre Jele, Creator-in-Chief, Bossa Studios
"Originally we thought, 'lets make a game that is easy to make and we can just put it out there. It can be branded by Surgeon Simulator 2013, like a mini-game or something'", admits Jele. "But quickly we realised that would be lying to our audience. So what we ended up with is saying, 'Lets reproduce the original game for iPad.' It's morally the right thing to do, but it’s bloody difficult because the controls are very different."
Williams then proceeded to demonstrate the technical demo to us. What they had done is remove Nigel's stupid hand and replaced it with your stupid hand, making it more tactile but without removing the satisfaction of breaking through bones and slicing through organs in a similar manner to which players have become accustomed to.
But it's not there yet as the controls still need some ironing out, which is proving to be a challenge. Plus, Jele is a stickler for quality and won't allow a sub-par game to be released and mar the game's brand and studio's reputation.
"This [iOS] game is not going out until we know it works. We simply can’t afford it. When we feel that it’s working, that’s when we’ll put it out there. We owe it to our fans."
On that note, I climbed out the back of the ambulance accompanied by a Bossa Studios employee dressed as a nurse, and bid my captors farewell. It's great to see two developers who have not only created a game that's a brilliant success, but are also looking to its future and taking great care with it as well as keeping its fans in the forefront of everything they do.
To read the first part of our review, click here.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 is available to buy now on Steam. For more information, visit www.surgeonsimulator2013.com.