First, we want to apologize for the delay in getting Exploration School content out.
We don’t mean to let anyone down, and we’re not any happier about the delay than any of you are. The issue was a strong desire to provide people with the best possible experience that we can offer for all of the control regimes. Releasing something unpolished early would have ticked people off just as much as a delay would, if not more. We’d rather miss a deadline, take our lumps like a big boy, and then make it up to you with a great experience instead of just phoning it in for the sake of a deadline and ending up disappointing you guys more.
The biggest hangup with the other input regimes was the fact that the play experience with mouse/gamepad was substantially different from the Hydra experience–more so than we initially expected. As soon as we’d wired up the first iteration of mouse and gamepad support, we discovered that the game felt different, and quite a bit of the novelty, tension, and challenges that come with the Hydra gameplay weren’t there. We’d gotten used to playing with the Hydra, and we missed the novel spin that it put on puzzles and interactions.
For example, ladder climbing–with the Hydra, it’s a tense and visceral experience where you can accidentally fall if you botch a rung grab. With the original mouse/gamepad implementation, it was sort of like you’d just walk up to the ladder and then automatically move up the ladder. No drama, no tension, just…it felt like a generic ladder climb in every first person shooter ever. Not really the experience we want to deliver.
Picking up items with the Hydra feels novel and exciting. Lefty or righty? No problem, you can use the same hand you favor in real life. You could switch items between your hands, carry an item in each hand, you could throw stuff, you could nudge things around–there’s just a lot more you can do when both hands are separately controlled.
Using the mouse or gamepad felt pretty bland and generic in the original implementation. It felt like a really generic first person shooter, except instead of a Mowemdown BLAM-90 or a Killemgood Turbo Hamburgerizer 3000XL, you’re running around with a can of spray paint or a glowstick. It just didn’t feel as compelling or as interesting as the Hydra gameplay does.
So, the consensus was that we really ought to bring mouse/gamepad play closer to what the Hydra offers, rather than just dumbing non-Hydra gameplay down into something drearily generic that feels like it belongs in the $1 clearance bin at Walmart. So, we’ve been experimenting with a few different approaches that bring more novelty, interest, challenge, and drama to the mouse and gamepad play modes.
The things we want to preserve and bring in from the Hydra to other control regimes:
- Being able to favor the same dominant hand you use in real life
- Being able to use different items in both hands
- Bringing the element of using both hands separately into puzzle solving
- Making things like ladder climbs feel more novel and dramatic
- Making environmental interactions more interesting and challenging than some kind of “Press E to use” abstraction
We’ve been running through a few different approaches that we felt would bring the mouse/gamepad play a bit closer to what the Hydra brings to the table, and so far we like the direction that we’re headed in! We’ll post more details and some video as soon as we can.