Nic Tringali of Bithell Games believes that the studios “only scratch the surface of what virtual reality can do”

Bithell Games launches its new game Arcsmith this week (July 29). The initial idea of ​​the virtual reality puzzle game was for the player to be sitting at a desk doing the work (I wonder how they came up with it).

Director Nic Tringali admits that yes, in retrospect, this brief “sounds a little boring,” but in the 18 months left to complete the game, Arcsmith has been transformed into what is set to be one of the most interesting VR puzzle games.

That desk is now a workstation of a space station orbiting an extraterrestrial planet with an extraterrestrial radio that plays the largest intergalactic melodies in the background. “We love science fiction, it also makes it easier to break the laws of physics,” Tringali tells me via Zoom.

The player assumes the role of an apprentice “thrown on the lap of this master Arcsmith. He doesn’t really want to teach you anything, but start working on it anyway, ”giving you an authentic, first-class work experience.

Arcsmith Credit: Bithell Games

Your new role? Creating various devices to meet the requirements of customers on the lower planet, whether to stabilize antimatter or an intergalactic drone. An early puzzle makes you build a terrarium. Get the basic glass box, but you need to add a heat and light source and make sure you create the right amount of it. There is an extensive library of pieces, but it depends on what the player uses. “How it looks, how you assemble it, it’s up to you,” Tringali explains. “There is a real aspect of free speech to achieve goals.”

Tringali’s favorite puzzle games are those that go beyond a firm right or wrong answer. “Expression is an important part Arcsmith. We wanted to give players the freedom to be fun and entertaining, or if they want everything to look sleek and symmetrical, that’s fine too. These options just give me more taste in games. “

More than a series of puzzles, Arcsmith it also has a story that unfolds throughout its six hours of play. The master of separation Arcsmith it has a past that it refuses to share. “He’s very bad at himself, but that breaks down throughout the game,” Tringali shares. If that “unique story of friendship and redemption” wasn’t captivating enough, the player is also caught up in intergalactic drama as your space station becomes the focal point of an intergalactic power struggle that could determine the future of the universe ”.

These narrative elements are a “big part” of Arcsmith. “First is a puzzle and story game that takes place in virtual reality.” Tringali likes it when virtual reality games are made for the platform and Arcsmith he uses technology because he lent himself to the game of collecting different items, assembling them, and reassembling them. “I thought it would be nice to make it a virtual reality.”

Arcsmith Credit: Bithell Games
Arcsmith Credit: Bithell Games

While most virtual reality games see the player move in a large space or drop into an expansive environment, Arcsmith he sees you “spending time in a space. You can see the planet outside, pedaling between day and night and I won’t say it’s relaxing because the game can be tough, but the environment is designed to be cozy.

In the background is a soundtrack created by Dan Le Sac and Sophie Williams White, which plays through an alien radio. “It’s really strange, but in the best possible way. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m listening to, but it brings a lot of pleasure to the world, ”says Tringali.

“There’s definitely an appeal to exploration, but I think there’s an equally strong appeal to a game that introduces you to a new environment and will allow you to really understand it. I guess it’s a kind of exploration. different and, as the different elements of the game progress, you will feel more comfortable in this space ”.

Founded after the success of the BAFTA Award Thomas was alone, Bithell Games has made a name for itself with consistent and brilliant games. Stealth puzzle game Volume arrived in 2015 followed by the point and bounce RV title Earth shape in 2016. They have also worked there John Wick Hex and text-based adventure series Subsoil circular.

Arcsmith Credit: Bithell Games

According to Tringali, the secret of quality “is that first we are fans and we always want to be better”. After each game, there is a period of post-mortem and self-reflection as they observe what worked, what could be improved. “We also pursue what is interesting. This emotion translates because people can feel that we are excited about what we are working on.

There is no written business concept, but “everyone feels strongly about doing something interesting. We also want to stay interested. “They also give a lot of importance to telling stories.” I think of games as a way to tell stories in a different way. Players can create their own stories, using the game as a tool. “

Arcsmith it’s not just the first time the studio has used VR since Earth shape but he is also the first game founder Mike Bithell does not direct, with Tringali (who has been part of the team ever since) Volume) going up to the plate. “Everyone has been really supportive. And we have a great team, obviously. It’s been fantastic and I’m really looking forward to playing more games. ” So no pressure?

Apparently not, which still surprises Tringali. “The environment we have is where we want to continue playing games. If that’s the goal, it would be self-defeating to say that anyone should get X or Y. If you press a single title, it undermines the overall goal which is to be excited about what we’re doing. “

Arcsmith Credit: Bithell Games

Tringali was inspired to become a game developer after playing Elder Scrolls: Morrowind i Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. “They both felt new and unlike anything else he had played at the time. I’ve always been interested in games, but they were the ones that made me ask “okay, how do you do them?”, Which is a much more vague question than it sounds. “

That wanting to know how it works still drives him today. Of course, the development of Arcsmith has meant he hasn’t had much time for other games though Wild outdoors it’s the only title that has moved him lately. “It’s a very different kind of puzzle game and I don’t think I can do it. I really admire him, ”he says.

As for what comes next, Tringali is not sure. “I don’t have to think about it for a while before I do it again,” he says of his desire to make more virtual reality games. “I’ve been in virtual reality a lot, for the last 18 months,” but he quickly added that “that doesn’t mean we’ll ever do another one. If Mike or I have a strong idea for a virtual reality game , of couse. ” Arcsmith it’s not an experiment or a single fact for the studio, it’s just a platform-leaning game.

Tringali has a lot of ideas about what he wants to create next month and the next few months will be spent on internal releases, chatting with the rest of the team and finding that excitement. As it is, Arcsmith it’s complete and there are no plans to expand the story, but that could always change. “We all have ideas and we’re talking right now, but we’re nine days away from the launch, so I haven’t thought much about the end of the month, to be honest.”

Bithell games have a habit of announcing games and publishing them shortly after. “The short production program has a big impact on that,” Tringali explains. For example, six months ago Arcsmith he was not in a presentable state, he had no idea how long the playing time was and things were constantly changing. Announcing it earlier this month meant they knew exactly what Arcsmith era. “Plus, it’s fun.” He adds with a smile.

As for virtual reality, “right now there are so many different experiences possible. Traditional genres are becoming important and new ones are being created. I think we only scratch the surface of what virtual reality can do. ”

Arcsmith will premiere on July 29th.

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