Interview: Daniel Kihlgren Kallander of SVRVIVE Studios

SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix places you in the role of a recently deceased person who is granted a second chance at life. However, there’s a catch. The catch is that in order to win back your life, you need to work as an I-DBUG agent, someone who essentially leaps through time and different dimensions. It’s a thrilling, unique and enjoyable VR experience, and one that should be considered by every VR gamer out there.

Game designer and programmer on the title, Daniel Kihlgren Kallander, was nice enough to chat with us about his work on the game. Here’s what he had to say:

As a game designer, what interests you about VR?

Many, many things, as I guess is true for most VR enthusiasts out there! But, if I had to choose one thing, it’s the promise that we one day will be able to create worlds in which we can be the best versions of ourselves, regardless of who we are in this world. That might seem very wishy-washy, but dreams tend to be just that!

For now though, as a game designer in 2017, I simply try my best to help create worlds where players can feel immersed and have a good time. One of the best things with VR today is that level of immersion that you get compared to anything else available – that moment when you suddenly forget where you are in the real world, and just believe whatever digital world you’re in. Seeing players have that kind of moment in worlds that you and your team has created – you can’t get that anywhere else!

How did the concept for SVRVIVE initially come about?

Well, the initial concept for “SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix” came from our CEO and co-founder, Faviana Vangelius. She could probably tell this story in much more detail, but I’ve heard the story a few times now; she was out with friends here in Stockholm, and they decided to try an Escape Room for the first time. She’d already been aware of VR for a while and knew she wanted to do something with it, but it was in that moment she knew exactly what she wanted to do. Faviana then gathered what later became the other co-founders of SVRVIVE Studios back in spring 2016, and they set out to make the prototype for “SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix” (which also eventually evolved into the first mission of the released game).

Creatively, how did you go about choosing the types of different worlds the player could visit in SVRVIVE?

It was a very democratic process haha, involving everyone in the team. We wrote down a list of many many possible worlds and scenarios. Then, when time came to decide which worlds we would try to build, we collectively voted for and eventually selected what we thought were the best candidates for the first chapter of the game. When that was done, we decided the order of those missions based on both the type of world it was and what visuals it would have for optimal potential flow, and planned the puzzles and overall story progression after that (we already knew the story beats before selecting the worlds).

Can you name any games, films or other media that served as inspiration to SVRVIVE?

Oh, certainly. I already mentioned Escape Rooms (which is most apparent in the first mission), but games like MYST and Riven are other huge inspirations. Especially me and our Creative Director Nils are huge fans of Cyan and their games, and we wanted to capture that same feeling of puzzles that didn’t always need a text-prompt or something for you to figure out, and a world (or rather, worlds) that could surprise you and show you something new.

Ultimately, what was your goal as a game designer for SVRVIVE, and do you think you achieved it?

My personal goal was, and has always been when it comes to VR, to try to give players as great a feeling of immersion as I possibly can. That means making players believe in the world and making sure they don’t get taken out of it by neither the design nor the technology. As to whether we achieved those goals, I do think that we managed to get in a lot of things done right in a very short amount of time (prototype was started in May 2016, and the game was released in November 2016), but there were certainly some things we could’ve done better, but we keep patching after release.

SVRVIVE ends on a superb cliffhanger. What can you tell us about the next instalment in the series?

I don’t want to say too much, but I will say that “SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix” was just the start, in all kinds of ways… 🙂

VR is still in its infancy despite making some great advancements so far. Where do you see VR ultimately taking gaming?

Haha, I kind of spoiled the answer to this in the first question, but I do see VR being the driving force behind a lot of advancements going forward – not only for games, but for computing and entertainment in general. There is already an amazing amount of things we have created with technology that help people all over the world in their daily life. VR will bring those technologies and us closer to their and our full potential by creating worlds in which we all can thrive. I think that we will eventually stop creating worlds for us to escape reality, and instead create realities in which we can be our very best.

Thanks to Daniel for taking part! Congrats on the success of the game to SVRVIVE Studios!

If you’d like to purchase SVRVIVE: The Deus Helix, it’s available on Steam HERE

SVRVIVE Studios on Facebook

SVRVIVE Studios on Twitter

Are YOU a VR dev that wants to be interviewed? Email me at denis [at] MixedRealms [dot] com

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