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Owlchemy Labs, the creator of Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator, introduced a new virtual reality game called Cosmonious High.
The Austin, Texas-based studio, which also created Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality, has been busy working on the title for the past two years, and is the first major game under its new leadership.
Alex Schwartz co-founded the company in 2010 and saw little success in the virtual reality market with fun titles that took advantage of the new generation of virtual reality headsets. While many RV titles sank because the market took off more slowly than expected, Job Simulator was a real hit with over a million copies sold.
Under the management of Google
Google bought Owlchemy in 2017 and left it largely on its own devices. Schwartz and studio leader Cy Wise left in 2018. They recently resurfaced with a new startup called Absurd Joy. Devin Reimer took over as CEO of Owlchemy. Other Owlchemy leaders are Andrew Eiche, COOwl (chief operating officer), who spoke to GamesBeat in an interview and product director Chelsea Howe.
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“We love the verse of the simulator as we call it internally. And it’s been a lot of fun, “said Eiche. “But I think we wanted to branch out and do something different. And there are a lot of stories to tell in high school and a lot of interactions. Our brand lends itself to building spaces where players can participate with a unique theme around them. “
Eiche said Google allowed the studio to run autonomously and that allowed it to move to Cosmonious High.
“We went downhill and have been working on this game for three years,” Eiche said.
During this time, the studio also released a major update for Vacation Simulator.
“For many of our owls, their day-to-day lives have changed very little,” he said.
And the team now has about 30 people, about 50% more than before Google acquired it.
Back to high school
Cosmonious High is an alien high school VR adventure that will be released on SteamVR and Oculus Quest next spring.
At Cosmonious High, players take on the role of an alien who landed at the school on the first day of class. Using unlockable powers, players will help repair the school and return Cosmonious High to its former glory. Along the way they will meet a quirky cast of characters, explore a colorful world, take classes and more.
Owlchemy promises that the game will have living characters. The latest level of VR interaction will allow the company to offer dynamic characters that respond to natural gestures. Players will be able to overcome five, punches and converse with a peculiar cast of characters.
The world will also be a great “interactive playground.” And the institute will be the largest space Owlchemy has ever built. Players can hang out with friends in the great room, do chemo experiments, and be creative in Visualetics. And players will unlock new alien powers over time. Players can solve problems or just cause more chaos at school.
The team chose the institute as a shared experience that everyone could relate to. In fact, everyone at Owlchemy Labs has attended high school, Eiche joked, a little weakly.
“It’s a story that evolves and changes as a teenager, and we have this player character who is an alien and has these powers that allow him to evolve and change,” he said. “We call this common ground a bathing lane, and high school had some really fantastic creative boundaries to immerse ourselves in.”
The RV takes off
Owlchemy’s view on virtual reality is that it should be a welcoming medium that makes people feel comfortable experimenting. And he said the team is happy that products like the Oculus Quest 2 are finally selling well.
“It simply came to our notice then. We had the common advertising cycle. We went through our drinking trough. We thought about how we would grow and focus on the market and we got it out on the other side. We are very excited now. “
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