Jörg Tittel is one of the most prolific VR game developers out there right now, with not one but two new VR titles coming out in the first half of 2023. The first is The last factor (also coming to non-VR platforms), a dystopian narrative adventure that was also the first game ever to be submitted in competition for the Venice Film Festival.
the other C-Smash VRSa re-imagining of a futuristic arcade sports game (think squash meet go ahead in cyberspace) released on Dreamcast only in Japan coming exclusively to PlayStation VR2. We caught up with him to talk about how he got into gaming with a background in theater and filmmaking, and what makes virtual reality the most exciting medium.
I used to be a games journalist
I studied theater at NYU at the turn of the century, which is kind of crazy. At the time, I missed one element of my childhood, which was video games, and so I started working as a game journalist. Soon after, the Dreamcast came out, and meeting all of Sega’s talent at the time was the thing I loved.
I’ve always refused to review games because I wanted to make games one day, and I didn’t want to get hurt at the other end one day! Even then, bringing the worlds of theater, film, and games together was something I was already doing. It felt like a natural course of things in the future.
Virtual reality made me want to make games again
I worked at Activision for a little while in 2001. I didn’t enjoy my time there very much. I also wanted to keep my love for games alive. I was desperately struggling to break into film at the time, and so if everything is going to be a struggle, I’d rather keep my love of games pure, and come back to it when I’m up for it.
That was when fire control It came with me, and I saw a first-person narrative experience that I loved and that was a hit, and that’s when I wanted to make a narrative VR game.
The Last Worker premiered at the Venice Film Festival
The Venice Film Festival has had an immersive thread and VR competition for years, but they’re not gaming, they’re 360 video art projects. They were weird HTC friends, when they saw we were making The last factorThey said we should get him into Venice.
We weren’t ready, the deadline had already passed, and all I had was some concept art, but they said, “Can you get something ready six weeks from now when the festival takes place?” And we’re like, “Yeah, sure!” It was crazy!
It took us two years to make the game complete but it was amazing to make the first 15 minutes, which also had a narrative arc, and people loved it. So Venice was a great honor.
C-Smash VRS It is based on a Dreamcast game that was not released outside of Japan
Since the Dreamcast unfortunately wasn’t the success it should have been, I’ve noticed some projects being cancelled. And at the end of that, two games came out in 2001. It was one of them Reese And the other was Cosmic crush.
When I saw this box, a beautifully designed DVD case – it was the only game on the Dreamcast to have that – I needed to have it. I imported a copy of it from Japan, and when I turned it on, I was blown away. Even in 2001, when I tried this, I wanted to be in this world, I wanted to play this in virtual reality.
VRS also stands for “versus” but it’s not meant to be competitive
When I’m playing squash with a friend, we like to have a good chat. This is one of the most intense sports, but it never feels like we are competing, it feels like we are playing together, even when we are playing for points. Hopefully, that’s the spirit the game will have, because there’s a lot of toxicity in competitive games already.
Making a sports game that’s actually about being good to yourself and being good to someone else is a spirit I don’t see in other sports. It is also a sports game with a philosophy behind it. It is set at the edge of time and space where everything is finite. In a world where everything is limited, you may as well have a good time.
I’m tired of realism
I think when people fight for realism visually, that search for the normal for me is boring, because it kind of takes us out of our experience that we’re living. I would love to be taken to another place, we need to dream. I just wanted to make the most natural human thing in virtual reality.
When I was a kid when I saw it for the first time You see For the first time, I was like, I love this aesthetic. But I want to be in it not against my will, I want to feel good in this aesthetic. Working with the best graphic designers I can think of, everyone is committed to reducing everything to the core of what is good.
I believe in PlayStation VR2
PlayStation to me is a company that has also been a huge supporter of indie games. with C SmashWe went to PlayStation with it, and they jumped into it, and they’ve been incredibly supportive. I believe in this system. I know people are like, “Oh, but this is risky because it’s not a mainstream thing, we don’t know how many of them are going to sell.”
Maybe this sounds arrogant, but I want to make a game that everyone on PlayStation VR2 wants to play. So it doesn’t matter how small the numbers are in the first year. If the vast majority of people are eager to at least try out the demo and see where it takes them, we’ll be doing something right.
The last factor Releases on PSVR2, Quest, PC, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X/S on March 30th. Demo of C-Smash VRS Available on PSVR2 from March 23rd.