Recently I caught up with Francisco, the game design director for Schell Games, to get the inside scoop on the company and the popular spy themed puzzle game I Expect You To Die 2. IEYTD 2 is set for release on all major headsets this summer.
We’ve summarised some of the highlights from the interview below but check out our recent article here for more information on the game and how you can get your hands on a free PCVR demo!
How Different Is IEYTD 2 From Its Predecessor?
When asked what made IEYTD 2 exciting and different from its predecessor, Francisco says “I can't pinpoint like a mechanic that is like, oh this is this is new, this is different, like you know there's not going to be fire breathing or like flying, or anything like that”.
So we can't expect anything too different here from the first game in terms of the mechanics. What we can expect is the same fun, spy themed action and innovative puzzle design that we all know and love.
However, Francisco does say that IEYTD 2 will feel like an evolution of the previous title. Schell Games has taken the same winning formula of the first game and refined it, expanding on what worked well to create a richer gameplay experience.
One main way they have done this in IEYTD 2 has been through providing a much stronger story than the first.
IEYTD 2 Will Feature More Narrative Than The Original
IEYTD 2 will be a lot more cinematic than the first game.
Whilst the first instalment felt more like a series of loosely connected escape room puzzles, in number 2 each of the stages are linked by a much more cohesive storyline. This gave the team much more to work with than the first game.
For example, in number 2 they were able to explore more spy tropes than the first game as there were many tropes that were dependent upon context which was only possible with a strong story.
There are also items and relevant clues that make appearances across multiple levels to make a more cohesive spy narrative.
Francisco said 'how impactful would it be if you get a glimpse of this object on one level that you're going to see two levels later...and we're able to do that type of thing which we could never do in the first game right...[because] there was never a holistic view in the first game".
This added narrative also allows for a much more immersive and enjoyable experience. For example, if you are playing a stage with a backstory, you know why you are there, who might catch you, and what might happen if they did, which raises the stakes and makes the game more exciting.
Francisco says “our dream is you know you finish playing the game and you go ‘wow i just starred in my own movie’”.
Schell Games, Innovation And Holoride
Francisco mentioned how experimenting with innovative and cutting edge technology is a core value of Schell Games.
One example he gives of this is their investment in holoride, which is a VR experience you can have riding in the back of the car. Holoride takes everyday car journeys and transforms them into hyper-immersive experiences by combining navigational and car data with XR.
Essentially, the movement of the car translates to movement in-game!
Francisco tells us of a holoride playtest that placed him in a spacecraft cockpit shooting enemy spaceships and asteroids. So even though the movement of the craft depends on the movement of the car, it is not an entirely passive experience as players still get to look around the environment and shoot at objects.
This is just one example of the innovative projects that Schell Games are involved with, and whilst there are other cutting-edge projects in the pipeline, we will just have to wait to hear more as many of these details are currently under a non-disclosure agreement!
Future Of Schell Games
Schell Games has anywhere between 5 to 10 projects happening at one time and whilst these projects differ in size, they all have a focus on cutting edge technology.
When asked about the future of Schell Games, Francisco expects steady and predictable growth of the company.
There will also be a continued focus on VR as many employees in the company, including founder and CEO Jesse Schell, love the platform and had started developing for it well before VR headsets hit the consumer market.
Francisco explains that "Jesse our CEO, you know, he was making VR for Disney Quest in Orlando like 20-25 years ago, or something like that right [and] I was making VR experiences in grad school in 2008..."
He goes onto say “I think we're pretty good at developing for VR and we would love to continue to do it, the caveat being, you know, there needs to be a market for it”. He expects VR will not disappear, it's just a question how popular it will become and the main role VR will play in the entertainment family.
How To Get The Latest On IEYTD 2
If you want to be kept up to date with the latest on IEYTD 2, Francisco recommends joining the Discord channel linked below and watching the play through of the demo by their project director Charlie here.
As the interview wrapped up, he encouraged anyone who has played the demo to share their thoughts as the company is very receptive to making changes and improvements based on player feedback. You can reach out to Schell Games via any of the social media platforms below!