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Polyarc unveils Moss: Book II for PlayStation VR

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Polyarc unveiled Moss: Book II for Sony’s PlayStation VR platform, bringing back the lead mouse character named Quill for a new adventure in virtual reality.

The original title Moss debuted in 2018 and it sold more than a million copies, which is quite an achievement for a VR-only game. As such, it’s one of the greatest hits in the fledgling consumer virtual reality market. And that’s why Polyarc is investing in Moss: Book II.

The Seattle-based VR game studio made the announcement at Sony’s State of Play event, but it stopped short of saying what hardware the new game would run on, as Sony hasn’t precisely described what the PlayStation VR 2 experience will be like just yet. The announcement is sure to generate some more interest in Sony’s second virtual reality platform. Polyarc doesn’t have a launch date yet for the game.

Josh Stiksma, principal software engineer and design director at Polyarc, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the game brings back Quill, the mouse who goes on a quest through a beautiful fantasy landscape contained within an old book. Quill’s kingdom was overthrown by Sarffog, a fire-breathing snake, and Quill had to rescue her uncle Argus from Sarffog in the first title.

“We are excited about working with Sony, soon to be released on Playstation VR,” Stiksma said. “We are excited about the future and obviously our goal is to get Moss and Quill in the hands of as many players as possible. But we’re excited about our current partnership with PlayStation VR.”

Moss: Book II

Above: Quill is on the run in Moss: Book II.

Image Credit: Polyarc

In the second game, Quill will journey deep into the hexed castle of the Arcane. Stiksma said that the fans gave a lot of praise and useful feedback after playing the first game, and one thing they wanted was a longer experience. The original Moss took anywhere from four hours to six hours to play, and the new game will be at least that and probably longer, Stiksma said.

“We can’t share everything about the story. But we’re really excited to advance the story,” Stiksma said. “And also your connection with Quill. She is the central pillar of the game, and your bond with her, your connection with her, is what all of our mechanics are in service of.”

Quill continues with the revelation that a winged tyrant is hunting her within the hexed castle where her uncle was held captive. But Quill has a plan of her own, one that could finally end the merciless rule of the Arcane and save the world from a great unmaking.

Above: Quill gets a big hammer in Moss: Book II.

Image Credit: Polyarc

“We’re going to actually pick up right where the game left off,” Stiksma said. “Quill went on this heroic journey to go and slay this giant serpent Sarffog to save her uncle from the Arcane and right after that” we find out that the Arcane isn’t out of commission yet.

Quill will have to tap her allies old and new to fight and escape, Stiksma said. One of the things Quill will be able to do now is swap between different weapons, like a new heavy hammer that she can wield.

“We are trying to push more emotional feedback from players in terms of how are you going to feel and how Quill is going to feel,” he said. “So we’re really trying to push a broader range of emotion you. We want you to feel the triumph, we want you to feel the heartbreak. And we want you to just feel more connected with her because a lot of people see quill as a friend or a real character. And we want to try and strengthen that.”

The landscape will be dangerous, with challenging puzzles, and lots of enemies, Polyarc said.

Not many VR game studios have had a chance to do sequels, as VR hardware hasn’t sold as well as many original expected. But Polyarc won 80 awards and nominations for Moss, and Polyarc, founded in 2015, raised $9 million to work on future titles.

The future of VR and VR development

Above: Moss: Book II has more beautiful landscapes.

Image Credit: Polyarc

As for bringing Moss to 2D screens, Stiksma said the company is open to opportunities, but the type of game the team is interested in making now lends itself to virtual reality.

The team has 32 people now,  more than double the team size for the earlier game. As for VR’s future, Stiksma said, “I’m really excited to see all of the new technology that comes out. And it’s going to allow us to push more of the things that we’re excited about pushing, pushing physical interaction, pushing a connection with virtual characters.”

Stiksma said it’s been tough working remotely, but he’s looking forward to getting Moss: Book II done.

“It has been a journey. It has definitely been a completely new experience,” Stiksma said. “We were able to get a new studio space, which thanks to COVID, we really haven’t been in. It’s been a real struggle with our playtesting, which we believe is just such an important part to getting the emotional beats and the story beats and the gameplay beats right.”

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