How do you feel cool if you’re tied to a chair, with death traps all around you?
The answer, at least for Schell Games’ Senior Designer Shawn Patton, was easy to arrive at. “Well spies do that all the time, and they’re cool,” he summarized. That sort of simple design philosophy is what helped guide development for Schell Games’ virtual reality escape room title I Expect You to Die. A keen love for spies (“I’m a huge James Bond fan,” Patton tells me, which makes sense given the game’s title spawning from a quip by the titular character in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger.), and a pointed disdain for illogically designed puzzles.
a love of spies, and disdain for illogically designed puzzles
“We were very much following the rule that, in the realm of the spy universe, if I need something to cut with, I need a pocket knife or to break a glass bottle,” said Patton. “We tried to make the things that you find make as much sense in the real world as possible, and make the solutions be one that lends itself to what would have been there in that environment.” In I Expect You to Die, you won’t be expected to miraculously Macgyver your way out of a tricky scenario. Instead Patton, alongside Advanced Engineer John Kolencheryl, want to urge players to realistically experiment with the tools at hand, just as they might in reality.
“Experimenting in VR is very powerful,” Patton said. He insists this is because when playing in VR, players feel as if they’re actually doing things naturally with their hands. And an upside to playing around in the virtual: there are no real-world consequences. “You can make a huge mess, you can light a bunch of stuff on fire. You can do things that you can’t do in the real world without consequence… hopefully.” This comes with the territory of making an escape room game that leans heavily on the concept of trial and error, but guiding that in a way that players won’t deem as frustrating. “A key component of our game is that it has this sandbox-y nature to it,” Kolencheryl noted. “So with the puzzle flow, there are multiple ways you can go from one point to the other. […] It all comes together.”
But with experimentation comes sacrifice—the game is called I Expect You to Die after all. Yet, such death-prone accidents are encouraged anyways, partly due to the game’s light, self-aware tone. Death may be a player’s only deterrent, but you’ll just end up being resurrected again anyways. So really, what do you have to lose?
I Expect You to Die will be out sometime in December for the Playstation VR and on December 6th for the Oculus Rift.