Virtual reality has tossed up several different kinds of games since its introduction. The market for first person exploration titles is still pretty strong, even if it’s a straightforward narrative experience. Case in point, Zoxide’s Neptune Flux, an underwater exploration title whose plot houses a number of secrets.
GamingBolt spoke to Zoxide Games founder Nick Pettit about the game and what players can expect when they dive off the deep end.
"Neptune Flux is a story-driven adventure game where the player has to use their abilities and wit to solve puzzles and navigate the narrative."
Neptune Flux seems to put heavy emphasis on narrative instead of delivering a straight out exploration game. What were your inspirations while developing the story structure behind the game?
VR is an emotionally gripping medium. The level of immersion that’s possible in VR far surpasses any other form of visual art and entertainment. I knew pretty early on in the process that I wanted to create a story that capitalized on VR’s best qualities.
What can you tell us about Sarah? What is her goal in the game what is that mysterious power all about?
Sarah grew up in a harsh environment, so her mother was the rock of her life. When Sarah’s mother disappears, Sarah deals with it by emotionally detaching herself from those around her. As she explores the ocean, she finds supernatural artifacts that lead her towards the truth about her mother and herself.
The game allows the player to use several items such as flares. But there doesn’t seem to be any sort of combat. Is that the case throughout the game?
Correct. Neptune Flux is a story-driven adventure game where the player has to use their abilities and wit to solve puzzles and navigate the narrative.
How important is the pod in the game? Is there any use to it other than traveling from one place to another?
The entire game takes place in the dive pod, so it’s pretty important.
"Neptune Flux will have some enhancements for the PS4 Pro, though I’m not announcing what those might be just yet."
I saw your Kickstarter video and I caught sight of The Last of Us frame. It does seem it’s one of the games that you are inspired from, right?
I would say so, yes. Neptune Flux takes place in a world on the verge of apocalypse.
Will the game have any sort of a customization and progression system?
To a small degree, yes. While I wouldn’t say there’s any real customization, the player progresses through the story by completing missions, collecting treasure, and upgrading their dive pod.
What kind of length can players expect from the game?
Most players complete Neptune Flux in about 2 hours.
Are there any additional modes planned beyond the main campaign?
Nope. Neptune Flux is a single-player story-driven game.
Given that you are also working on a PS4 version, I believe you are also working on a PS4 Pro version, right?
That’s correct. Neptune Flux will have some enhancements for the PS4 Pro, though I’m not announcing what those might be just yet.
"In my case, Neptune Flux is mostly bound by alpha blended areas where one texture is overlapping another, because in these cases each pixel has to be rendered in several passes."
With the PS4 Pro, Sony have increased the memory bandwidth a little bit, but they have kept the overall memory pool the same as it is on standard PS4 systems. Is this a fair trade off? Or do you foresee RAM becoming a bottleneck for game development as we move further on with this generation?
The biggest bottleneck with most games is CPU and GPU power. Only the largest AAA games are memory bound, because they have a huge amount of content and systems running simultaneously.
The PS4 Pro has double the GPU power of the original. What kind of advantages this has bought in for developers?
In my case, Neptune Flux is mostly bound by alpha blended areas where one texture is overlapping another, because in these cases each pixel has to be rendered in several passes. A more powerful GPU means those pixels can be rendered faster, enabling more of them – i.e. higher resolutions and frame rates.
What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch? What unique challenges will a system like that would pose for game development?
I think Nintendo’s approach is interesting and it enables a lot of unique opportunities for developers. I usually view any challenges as creative opportunities. In other words, what can I accomplish within the constraints of the system that might not be possible given different creative limitations?
Do you think there is a place for the Switch in the market today as a console, as a portable, as a dedicated games system?
I believe so, yes. Gaming is a huge market, so there’s plenty of room for Nintendo to do their own thing and create something unique.