If you’ve ever wanted to duel your friends in VR (and you loved the Matrix-like gunplay of Superhot VR) then you should take a look at Blaston.

Blaston, the new VR game from developer Resolution Games (Cook-Out, Angry Birds VR), forces you to move and contort your body in creative ways. This is something that we love because it makes us work those core muscles and burn more calories, but unlike Superhot VR, Blaston is a multiplayer battle arena.

How did they make it work? Luckily, I got an opportunity to sit down and receive a live demo of Blaston with Resolution Games’ Mathieu Castelli (CCO), Paul Brady (co-founder and CMO), and Tommy Palm (co-founder, CEO).

Here’s the transcript, which includes my own firsthand impressions.


Interview: Blaston Creator Resolution Games Shows Us the Ropes

Gabriel Moss
[In Blaston] you’re basically designing a level for players to dodge bullets while they fire back at you. Are there any special rules that you’ve had to invent to make this work?

Mathieu Castelli
Well, you know, we approached this by first trying to bring people as close as we could, okay. And then we tuned the other parameters from that. So the bullet speed is there to give you enough time to dodge.

So the defense move used all the time, which I would describe as the equivalent of blocking in Street Fighter, is you destroy your opponent’s bullets before they reach you, either by throwing an empty gun at one or by firing a bigger bullet that will block a smaller incoming one. Or by just building a shield at the right moment.

At launch, we have 21 weapons. We have a different full-body avatar that you can choose from across eight different skins. You have a starting arena and every month we will release a new weapon and progressively add additional arenas.

GM
What’re your favorite guns? Rather, which one would you recommend first?

MC
I love the orb grenade for its versatility. It’s slow-moving and I like it because there is a little psychological play with it, where you try, like, a magic trick. You try to bring the attention of your opponent to watch, let’s say, your left hand where you’ve got a gun. And then you toss that grenade, and hopefully, your opponent doesn’t notice because it’s slow.

It’s quite easy to dodge if you know it’s there, but it’s easy in the course of action to miss it.

Tommy Palm
I’m an easygoing guy! I like the sniper weapon the most. It’s, for me, it’s very straightforward to use. And it’s very quick.

Paul Brady
Mathieu, you’ve also said something interesting in the past and it kind of alludes to Gabriel’s point earlier that basically, like, every kind of onslaught of bullet hell coming from your opponent becomes a bit of a puzzle to solve.

And that dynamic changes with the weapon selections that you choose. So you know, you and I may have a battle with a certain selection of weapons, and then change just one weapon each and then that battle becomes completely different.

It’s also really compelling, what happens whenever you change that combination and when you just start exploring different parts of the platform. My favorite thing is not necessarily the gun itself, but throwing the gun at an opponent. It just seems so tangible.

GM
Paul, what’s your favorite gun?

PB
I would say the curving shotgun.

MC
Yeah, the ‘Hammer Ellipse’ is the curve shotgun, and the idea came straight from the movie Wanted. I don’t know if you’ve seen that masterpiece, but in the movie, you have a scene with Angelina Jolie where the guy rotates his arm when he’s firing and the bullet is curved.

It’s been one of my favorites ever since, where your arm action is as if you were getting a spin on the bullets. And it’s much harder for people to dodge because it’s harder to anticipate where the skill will be just like in baseball. And it’s so versatile because of this.

GM
I’m excited to try all these weapons out!

MC
You shouldn’t have [a curving shotgun] at first. But that’s good. I like it that way because you start with the simplest. Not that there is a gradation of power, but there is gradation in versatility.

But in order to be able to use them properly, you need to play, just like most card games will let you start with a very basic deck that is simple to play to pick up the rhythm. And at the same time, it doesn’t mean that those simple cards cannot end up being in the players’ deck.

We try to give each weapon a role. People will always invent new ways to combine them together.

GM
So it’s kinda like Smash Bros?

MC
A little bit, yeah. The fighting games have been a core influence. And there’s a meta, you know, the range of a given opponent, what are his best jump heights, so you adapt to that.

If you see your opponent has got a lot of fast weapons on his deck, maybe you will try to play from the back of your platform because the bullets decelerate. If you go to the front, you’re exposing yourself, but you’re also very aggressive.

GM
Is Blaston going to have any kind of esport element to it? Like, any kind of meta competition?

MC
What happens with this thing is that you, the community, decides if it’s esport worthy.

But recently, we all made our trailers. Sometimes I just stand there watching those captures of somebody playing with another member of the team, with their body movements, because the two combine the real body movements. And the better the player, the more there is to watch, because he’s going to use the whole back and forth, that is, diving to the sides suddenly and dropping on his knees to dodge a fast bullet at the last moment.

And this is fun to watch when it’s mixed with what’s happening in VR. And so even though we cannot really say what will happen for the esport teacup, for sure, we know that if something happens, we’ve got good material to bring to the show.

GM
Because this is for VR Fitness Insider, is there any kind of built-in element that tracks calories burnt?

MC
No, but it’s great that Oculus is going to give it out of the box to all the games. And that’s going to be great because we had another fitness-focused media person we talked to recently. That person was very fit. And he was describing his fitness routine in VR.

And he says “it takes me 20 minutes because I try to bring my pulse to 120 and that’s where I like it. So I do this game and then this game,” and I said “okay, let’s play five minutes of Blaston.”

And we played, and you know, he had played a little. Like, he had played the tutorial and a few matches. He knew the rules. Of course, the better you are, the less you move. It’s true in most sports. He was moving a lot, and then after five minutes, he took his pulse, and it was clocking at 122 or something.

Blaston is very intense. And the way to make it less intense is, you have to be very precise and tactical, which takes a lot of training.

GM
Yeah, it really does. I have to keep my pulse down from, like, it’ll sometimes get up to 160 or 170 depending on the game. Though it seems like Blaston is gonna be more moderate in the range of fitness intensity. I’m excited to try it.

PB
Just one other point I’d love to double down on is that, kind of riffing on what you’re saying about Blaston being a bit of a sport and like, the platform and bullet speeds being very intentional and all that making it feel kind of a bit like you know, racquetball or ping pong like we were talking about in the past.

GM
Hey Mathieu, I’m ready to go.

MC
Cool. So you will see on the main menu on the left, there is a friendly duel place. Okay, and there you will need to type the code I will give you now.

Okay, so dial 964796.

GM
Okay. 964796. All right, yeah. Okay.

 

Two matches later.

MC
Gabriel, you cannot step outside your platform. Because if you step outside, you will lose immediately.

GM
I left the match. What happened?

MC
Yes. So you clicked “okay,” so you left the friendly match. But one thing to mention is that if you step outside of the platform, you’re gonna lose very, very quickly.

GM
Okay, I see.

MC
That’s what happened in both of those matches. You went outside your platform and so you and your life went down almost immediately.

GM
Okay. So is it the same room code or is it a different one?

MC
No, I want to give you a new one. Just keep the thumbs up.

GM
Okay, just click the thumbs up.

MC
*chuckling* It’s not the best UI. Type in 121308.

GM
Let me just join up.

 

Three matches later.

 

GM
Nice one!

MC
Sorry, in the beginning, you don’t really know how your body positions itself.

GM
Right.

MC
But you kept hitting at one point or another, you kept hitting the big orbs. Yeah, and they are deadly. You cannot hit them. You can go through the wireframe ones a little bit, because they behave a bit like a laser with damage over time. The big ones, you don’t touch them.

GM
Yeah, it was interesting, like the second to last round where we actually lasted the whole match. I think I got to the speed that a good Blaston player is supposed to get to? So, like, you’re constantly running around your own physical area and picking up new guns and repositioning yourself, which is kind of different.

Because in regular VR first-person shooters, you’re really just standing in the same place, but you’re moving your character around using thumbsticks. So you’re not really used to being as tactile.

MC
Yeah, no. And you also use depth a lot. As I was explaining [in Blaston] there is no level where there are no obstacles.

GM
Yeah, exactly. It’s kinda like Superhot.

MC
Yeah, yeah. Well, as soon as you have slow motion things, and you’re in there, you’re gonna have that feeling. But it’s hard for me, like, when we play like this I want to show you that there is a degree of skill that you want to control.

We got the person who did the bots in Counter-Strike and Left 4 Dead. He joined Resolution recently, Mike Booth, and we asked him if he would take two to three months of his time to make the bots, and he did. And they play really well. They start really slow. They’re here to make you understand the basics. Like those five matches we did. But they can become a real, real challenge like in Street Fighter and in Smash Bros.

So that’s definitely something to, I think, explain to the readers. Because that’s at the core of our matchmaking approach, which is: we will always give you somebody precisely close to your level, close to your experience.

And we can do this even though there’s a number of devices out there, because we have a solid bot experience if there is no one online at your level. So rather than have to try to be a casual dragnet where we try anybody online who will match because concurrency is an issue in VR, we decided like “no, let’s work on our bots and then do proper matchmaking.”

GM
Blaston seems very put together. It’s very cohesive. I like it. I really like it so far.

MC
It’s definitely a very tight experience. We thought initially, let’s put it out in the market as fast as we can. And then beyond opponents, there are millions of gun ideas that we want to introduce.

Just, I feel the same level of creative freedom as in card games on which I’ve worked in the past [such as Mogi], where because of the speed, you can see the triggers, you can see the targets, you can see the effects and you can craft very- it’s almost card-game like, it being amenable to creativity. And it’s going to be really nice to introduce new weapons every month.

GM
And then as far as different characters go, you said there’re about eight skins at launch. Do any of the characters have different attributes or different stats or anything that changes gameplay, or?

MC
No, no, no, it’s super fair. I mean, in fairness, we decided to create the diversity from the loadouts and not from the characters. So they don’t have any gameplay influence, it’s purely looks. What they enable us to do is also create the feeling that you’re meeting different bots, because there’s a lot of bots and we could craft a lot of different bots for each level.

GM
Very cool. Thank you so much for your time, Mathieu. Of course, the others have already dipped out, but please tell them I thank them for their time as well!

MC
Great. Thanks very much. Take care!


And that does it for our interview and firsthand impressions of Blaston VR with developer Resolution Games!

Blaston is a new multiplayer first-person shooter made exclusively for Oculus Quest, but it’s been stated that a version is due to arrive on Steam at some point. It is now available for $9.99 on the Oculus Store.

Stay tuned at VR Fitness Insider for more coverage of VR fitness games, accessories, and much more.


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