You probably took one look at the concept for Bebylon: Battle Royale and wondered “What the hell?” In a nutshell, the game sounds outrageous. Babies in tricked out buggies fighting it out for supremacy? As it turns out, there is a greater theme at play about the world at large. The fact that this all plays out in VR is even more intriguing.
GamingBolt spoke to Ikrima Elhassan, co-founder and CEO of Kite & Lightning, about Bebylon to learn more about the effect of PS4 Pro on the VR aspects.
"The inspiration was to do a simple little game, like the arcade and old-school classics I loved – games like Smash Bros."
“Players will take on the role of babies in Mad Max style vehicles duking it out.“ This sounds like a crazy good idea. What was your inspiration for the game?
It’s actually crazier and broader than that implies. That was a starting point, and it’s expanding into a whole world with different families all with widely varying personalities and tastes and styles – all battling for fame and fortune and dominance in Bebylon’s social status hierarchy.
The inspiration was to do a simple little game, like the arcade and old-school classics I loved – games like Smash Bros. We had a blast coming up with ideas, and so many of them were memes and references to the world we actually live in – it grew into a social satire. We’re all a bunch of babies, wanting attention, taking our selfies, consuming to impress, creating personas to define our place in the world.
And as the ideas flowed, the little brawler game grew into an entire world with tons of possibilities to explore and discover – and express yourself. All throughout, your character is growing and acquiring possessions that give him or her status and power, and it’s a very much about being a part of a larger society in and out of the ring.
But it’s still a really fun party brawler in the middle of all that, we never lost that core idea.
The game is primarily designed for VR experiences but it seems to play just as fine from a non-VR perspective. Do non VR players miss out anything other than the close up experience VR will offer?
Glad you asked that. We had a lot of people ask us that…until they experience it and realize how VR transforms the experience. There are two aspects that really shine in VR for us: avatar to avatar gameplay and the game design language of AR in VR.
One of my favorite parts of playing Smash Bros was the smack talking that happened on the couch, outside of the game. With Bebylon, we bring that back by placing your avatars inside the game in addition to the fighters. We’ve also incorporated it as a gameplay mechanic. For example, flashbangs in the game work by throwing the grenade at your opponent’s face and having it explode in their viewpoint. And as an avatar, you can dodge it by physically dodging your head.
Then there’s the environments that the matches play out in. With VR, we’re creating the most advanced futuristic tabletop that you get to battle on. For me, it captures that feeling of playing with the most advanced badass toys that we dream of as kids in this theatrical spectacle of a show.
The game seems to be built for co-op experience. Are you guys planning for the same? If yes, can you please let us know the details about it?
Right now, it’s entirely a 1v1 PvP experience. We have some big ideas on spectating and the world that surrounds it but for now, we’re not ready to reveal too much.
"Players can be the beby of their most shameless rockstar fantasy. Personality is not only permitted here, it’s encouraged and celebrated."
Besides the babies fighting in what seems like an arena…are there going to be any modes? May be some sort of story mode that sets the theme of the game?
Absolutely. There is a detailed and elaborate history to the world that sets context. We look at Bebylon as a rich world that blends a core awesome game experience with a rich social narrative to be experienced. We come from a cinematic background, and just can’t help ourselves when it comes to story.
We don’t want to talk too much about details since we’re still in flux, but we can’t wait to share.
Is there going to be any sort of a customization system for cars and the characters?
Definitely. Central to the concept is that players will be able to reveal their taste and style through creative car customization, fashion, personal styling, accessorizing and eventually behavioral elements like custom designed taunts and movement patterns – creating an exaggerated take on the player’s own personality. Players can be the beby of their most shameless rockstar fantasy. Personality is not only permitted here, it’s encouraged and celebrated.
Are there any plans to put in a proper upgrade or progression system in the game?
This is one of my favorite parts of the game. I think we’ve managed to create a fighting game where a progression system makes sense. Since the whole gameplay is centered around trolling, showboating, & vanity, all of the cosmetic upgrades fit the narrative as well as the gameplay without creating balance issues. So, when you start out as a lowly Peasant, your character looks cool and average. But, as you win matches and gain followers, you get to buy cooler accessories, outfits, and taunts to express your specific style of trolling. And when you take those selfies midgame, your character will look like the badass Rockstar you want it to be.
When do you think the game will be out on the PSVR and Oculus Rift?
We’re aiming for later this year.
Will you be planning to use the upgraded power of PS4 Pro to deliver better PSVR experiences?
Absolutely. The PS4 Pro will be able to provide a visually enhanced VR experience.
"It really depends on what the developer wants to allocate the resources towards. It can range from going to 60 fps, rendering at 1080p, antialiasing, to dynamic GI, etc."
You are in perhaps the best position to talk about the differences between the PS4 Pro and the base PS4. What kind of experiences are not possible on the base PS4 and possible on the Pro?
I think our biggest difference is the processing power you can dedicate to better, more visceral visuals which in turn heighten the emotional impact or presence in VR. I’m not too sure that there is anything fundamental though gameplay wise that you couldn’t do with a normal PS4.
How do you rate Sony’s relatively more conservative approach with the PS4 Pro versus Microsoft’s more radical overhaul with the Xbox One Scorpio? Which excites you more, from a development perspective?
I can’t speak to the Scorpio but we’re very excited with the approach Sony has taken. I think it makes a lot of sense to have an easy upgrade path. From a business perspective, we can’t orphan the existing console install base as we’re forging a new emerging market. Development for the PS4 Pro has been a very easy transition.
6 TFLOPs naturally means that the Xbox One Scorpio has an extremely powerful GPU. Assuming that the rest of the specs also see similar or comparable bumps, what are the kinds of graphical improvements developers will be able to deliver on Scorpio?
As a graphics engineer in a previous life, this is like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” It really depends on what the developer wants to allocate the resources towards. It can range from going to 60 fps, rendering at 1080p, antialiasing, to dynamic GI, etc.
With the PS4 Pro, we now know the machine’s specs. What do you foresee being the biggest bottleneck to game development on the improved console? Would it be the CPU, which was always hamstrung even on the original PS4, but is even more so now, relative to the rest of the machine?
I can’t talk too much here since I can’t ever keep track of what’s public info or under NDA.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo’s lack of VR initiatives? Will you bring the game to NX if it had VR support?
We’re eager to be on all the major platforms, so will certainly look at Nintendo if they make a serious push into the space. And of course involvement in NX would be dependent on committing to the Nintendo platform. The ball is really in Nintendo’s court on this one.