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Dec 04

Dec 04

Explore a Mysterious World in Eclipse on PlayStation VR

Jonathan Hawkins's Avatar Posted by Founder, White Elk

Hi everybody. My name is Jonathan Hawkins and I’m the founder of White Elk. We are a startup VR studio based in Los Angeles and are very excited to bring our first game Eclipse (working title) to PlayStation Experience! I wanted to give you a little backstory of how we got here and a small taste of what Eclipse is all about.

Eclipse

Before starting White Elk, I worked at Sony Santa Monica for many years, starting off as an intern and working my way up to be Lead Level Designer. During my time at Sony, I helped to ship God of War I, II & III, which brought a lot of great experiences and lifelong friends. After leaving Sony, I knew I wanted to create something on my own, and I wanted to do it in VR.

I got a small taste of VR at Sony Santa Monica when a few programmers and designers put together a demo to show Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Worldwide Studios. While a bit rough, you could still see great potential.

It reminded me of the first time I played Doom, a game that recreated 3D environments and teleported me to a new world. It blew my mind! I knew from that moment back in 1993 that making games was what I wanted to do. To create worlds, where I could explore my imagination coming to life and share it with others. For me VR is the next step. It immerses the player even further into the fantastic worlds we create.

EclipseEclipse

When searching for inspiration and dreaming of new worlds to explore, I listened to this song over and over and over: Johann Johannsson — How We Left Fordlandia. There was something eerie but beautiful about its composition. I’d close my eyes and drift off to this place. From those thoughts and sounds came the high level inspiration for the game.

Eclipse is a first-person exploration game set on a sentient planet with a dark past. At its core is a mysterious story of a world filled with discovery and wonder. You awake after crash-landing to find yourself in a dreamscape environment, littered with the remnants of a failed civilization.

Designed for VR, you play the game from inside a space suit that is equipped with advanced technologies. It allows you to survive the planet’s harsh landscapes and discover its past.

Early in the adventure you find a supernatural relic, the Artifact. A fusion of biology and technology, this device allows you to control elements of the natural world and interact with the ancient technology.

The Artifact is constructed of different fragments, each giving you new powers to control the physical world, on an ever increasing scale. Your goal is to collect these fragments, uncover the mysteries of the past, and escape the planet.

I pitched the high level concept to my longtime friend and colleague, Cecil Kim, who had co-founded Section Studios. Cecil worked for many years at Sony Santa Monica as the Visual Development Lead. We would work together on levels and puzzles, where he would take my sketches and basic gray box designs and transform them into amazing environments. He loved the concept of Eclipse, so we began prototyping and exploring the visual direction.

Eclipse

Right away, the sense of scale in VR grabbed us. We kept pushing on this idea. Filling the world full of giant set pieces and cavernous rooms. Designing traversal mechanics and areas to take advantage of the unique perspective that VR creates.

The core idea of the game is that nature is the connection. VR has allowed us to push this idea. The story of the planet is told through its environments and your interactions with its creatures. By virtually teleporting you to this world, VR creates a sense of being there. The textures of the world and the movements through the space become almost real. These feelings combined with Cecil and Section Studios’ amazing artistic abilities has allowed us to tell the story of the planet in VR, through imagery and symbolism, and breathe life into this imaginary place.

There is still a lot of work to do, but the small demo accomplished its goal — creating a new world to explore. A place that breathes its own life, sets the tone for the rest of the game, and recreates the feeling of inspiration I found in a song.

The entire team is very thrilled that everyone from the PlayStation family will get a chance to play at PlayStation Experience! Please stop by, say hello, and allow yourself to be teleported to the world we have created for you.

Add Your Own

sealum01 said:

December 4th, 10:30 am

Oh my! An exploration based VR game? One of the great promises in VR is the exploration of fantastical words, impossible to otherwise experience. And this world looks positively enchanting! Add a strong musical sensibility, a touch mystery, and strong art direction and you have a experience that should imprint on memory for a lifetime. Few games aspire to do this!

This is already a must-buy for me!

    Jonathan Hawkins's Avatar

    Jonathan Hawkins said:

    December 4th, 1:29 pm

    Thank you for the kind words! Music will be a huge part of the experience and we have been exploring a lot of interesting ideas.

KingLouieTrip said:

December 4th, 10:52 am

Sounds like a phenomenal concept! Any idea what window you are hoping to release? Is this planning to be a VR launch, or can we expect this down the line :) Thanks

    Jonathan Hawkins's Avatar

    Jonathan Hawkins said:

    December 4th, 1:34 pm

    We will have more info later down the road about the release date. I’m glad that you like the concept and can’t wait for you to play!

Dominik said:

December 4th, 10:58 am

Looks cool, can’t wait to see more. Potential day 1 just from the concept.

Circuitburnout said:

December 4th, 10:58 am

This is sounding and looking pretty cool! I’m looking forward to this one.

paulogy said:

December 4th, 11:00 am

This looks like a world I’d love to get lost in! It reminds me in part of Another World, one of my all time favorites.

For this game I hope there’s no combat because for the most part I’d really like to just explore without that added pressure.

    Jonathan Hawkins's Avatar

    Jonathan Hawkins said:

    December 4th, 1:38 pm

    We will be posting more details later, but I think you are really going to like this if you are a fan of Another World.

RodCih said:

December 4th, 12:34 pm

Sony, I need VITA games, no VR games!!

Amnalehu said:

December 4th, 1:32 pm

THe VR games keep coming! PSVR is going to have a great lineup of games and this looks like one of the must have games. Exploration in VR = awesome!

X_LeJendz_X said:

December 4th, 7:52 pm

Will there be lifeforms to interact with in this stunning and beautiful world?

SLICK_T said:

December 4th, 10:33 pm

No knock against any effort you devs go through on making these VR games but I have a strong feeling this stuff is always a short lived thing. 1 year tops of support from sony and we will no longer see games being made. The Move controller has no support its died out.. Vita, its no longer getting AAA titles or support other than useless and boring nintendo 8 bit indies. Heck even the ps4 camera isn’t getting any support games wise made for it. VR will be supported a year tops and die off like everything else sony comes up with for its consoles. They Hype it and hype it and then forget it once the target money is made.

MightyMatt said:

December 5th, 2:18 am

I can’t wait to try this out love hearing the inspiration for this. Music is a driving force for me and it reminds me of a song I wrote which just happens to be called Eclipse http://youtu.be/I0SU9pp6lQQ

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December 5th, 4:47 am

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ArcRabbit said:

December 5th, 5:59 am

Explore VR games is one of the main reasons why I’m so psyched for VR and I’m so glad I got a PS4 so I could play stuff like this. Reminds me of the days of MYST, I love these types of games. This looks fantastic and can’t wait for this to come out!

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