We spoke with Jason Parks of Rotu about the developer’s big RV release, Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia.
The forest vibrates with songs around it, as animals of all kinds follow their ancient rituals seemingly without hindrance. But forests also hurt, it can only help relieve pain. If you’re not sure if I’m talking about a real-life ecosystem or Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia, this is exactly what Jason Parks, CEO and executive producer of Rotu Entertainment, wants.
The rhythm of the roots of the Universe delves into the course of a decade of covert music education, advocacy and environmental activism. The founders of Rotu Entertainment attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Parks started a film scoring group during his time in college and the future ROTU CCO, Emir Cerman, he approached her with a proposal to bring together dozens of musicians and countries for the project that eventually became Anthem for the World, the seed from which Rhythm of the Universe grew.
“We had a music video that created the support team that brought together 90 different countries, and they wrote a peace song,” Parks told Upload during Gamescom 2021. “We had literally citizens of countries that were at war. each other at the same table, afraid to even share their real name because of the retribution they would face and this song went viral all over the world on YouTube and eventually led us to sell the Boston Symphony Hall “.
ROTU continued to work on documentaries and other promotional music videos, and in 2015, the Amazon Aid Foundation addressed a request to them. The foundation wanted ROTU to travel to the Amazon rainforest and film illegal mining and deforestation and how they affected the environment.
“It simply came to our notice then [Ionia] because it was about going to this beautiful leafy jungle, then coming across absolutely devastated lands and understanding that this was a human impact, but ultimately we could do something about it, ”Parks said.
ROTU wanted to create something big with this experience, its own Star Wars or Avatar franchise, Parks said. A friend introduced the ROTU team to virtual reality at the same time. I had bought some HTC Vive headphones and invited them to see how it was. Parks said the sense of immersion, especially in a natural scene while watching a whale swimming across the ocean, is what sold them to VR for ROTU’s dream project.
Diving is key for Ionia. Parks wants it to feel like a lucid dream, pushing the boundaries of entertainment through interactive storytelling and conveying like no other a message about humanity’s relationship with the environment.
“Our message and our vision is to create empathy through our tradition, our stories and our universe,” he said. “It’s much easier to do it in virtual reality because I can put you in front of a creature you have to take care of. You have to make progress in making decisions that help you understand the world around you. “
To this end, ROTU also partnered with Wildlife Warriors, the conservation organization founded by the late Steve Irwin, which branches into Europe and Africa, as well as his native Australia. 5% of Ionia’s proceeds will go to the foundation to help continue its efforts.
Parks said he acknowledged that even creating Ionia was a risk, but even less so putting those hopes into it. Ionia’s conception took place before virtual reality cut its place of entertainment, but the ROTU team believed that the medium was here to stay and would only grow. Working on video projects with nonprofits and other clients brought ROTU to Epic’s Unreal as its ideal production vehicle. The next step was to hire a team with “decades” of experience working with game engines and no shortage of ideas to bring Ionia to life.
Ionia’s gameplay inspirations are too much to count, but Parks noted Uncharted, Ocarina of Time, Breath of the Wild, Moss, Lone Echo – anything that has a unique approach to storytelling and storytelling. But music was always the core of Ionia. It varies as much as the games that inspired Ionia, from the junk scores of John Williams to the score of Ennio Morricone for The mission (1986) and his idea of music creating harmony between disparate cultures.
Ionia’s musical identity is its foundation, so much so that ROTU composed the soundtrack even designing the first area. They build each stage, encounter, animal, and puzzle around some aspect of music theory. One of the proven Parks puzzles allows you to basically understand the intervals on a scale to align a set of stones and unlock the path to follow. Another is to use the environment and music to care for a turtle and earn respect to help heal the forest.
Even more spectacular events, such as traveling through a valley with a zip line, weave wonder and curiosity into its soundscape. This area, in particular, comes from a short 30-second segment of “The Never-Feast” by John William (Hook, 1991), the moment Peter realizes that imagination affects reality.
It also affects the reality of ROTU. While Parks couldn’t divulge much about the future of Rhythm of the Universe, he said this transmedia franchise will only continue to grow. Ionia itself is only one region of the continent of Pangea. Other regions, inspired by musical fashions, such as Locrian and Dorian, of course, exist with their own stories to tell. ROTU plans to explain them as independent narratives that everyone can access, regardless of their familiarity with Ionia or any of the other parts of Rhythm of the Universe, with more information coming later this year after the September 23 release date of Ionia on Oculus Quest, PC VR and PSVR.