Auckland-based video game studio Method Digital is launching a virtual reality game where players walk on the moon, visit ancient Mayan temples, and fend off crocodiles with a baseball bat.
Called Wanderer, the title will soon debut on the Sony PlayStation VR, becoming the first virtual reality game made in New Zealand to feature on a market-leading console.
The gameplay features an unwitting hero, Asher Newman, who goes through a remarkable journey to change the course of history and prevent the collapse of civilization. The game’s co-creator, Sam Ramlu, explained that the game could alter the perception of New Zealand creativity on the world stage.
“That is one of the things we want to change. We want people to look at Aotearoa and think that these kinds of high-quality productions are what comes out of New Zealand,” said Ramlu.
She and her team started working on the game in early 2014 as they were stoked with the idea of using virtual reality technology in gaming. The team secured $25,000 funding from the NZ Film Commission’s interactive fund in 2016 and put in their own $200,000 to start building a demo.
“We created this demo that we were super excited by, it had so many possibilities. We loved the idea of using VR to go back in time, we were imagining what if we could see this historical event or that one. We knew we had a great concept,” she said.
However, the team faced countless obstacles in raising more to fund the game’s completion. After years of hustle, Sony got on board with the idea in 2019.
“Once we had confirmation of Sony’s backing in September 2019, that is when things really got going for us. We were able to hire more people, at our peak we had 25 people working on this game with contractors around the world. It was a huge project,” Ramlu said.
The studio worked on the game for another two and a half years, and now Wanderer is ready for release. Ramlu remarked that the game is way different than any other title on the market.
“For people that are playing VR games, there are a lot of arcade-type games that focus on action and fighting. While we have combat in our game, the game is very much about exploration and discovery and puzzle-solving. The fact that this game is story-driven is quite unique, there are not a lot of VR games out there like this,” Ramlu said.
Ramlu further exclaimed that working on the game has made her all the more excited for the future of VR.
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