Interview: 3dSenVR Developer Truc (Geod Studio)

Interview: 3dSenVR Developer Truc (Geod Studio)

Geod Studio is an army of one. Truc is the fiendishly clever developer behind what is considered the foremost 3D NES emulator. The twist? 3dSenVR is available in VR – which takes immersion to a whole new level.

Available on Steam and Itch.io, 3dSenVR will ignite your retro fire, and take you back, while simultaneously keeping you in the future, as you jump, run, fight, fly and more in virtual reality.

We wanted to know how Truc came up with the concept, and how he managed such an incredible project on his own. Here is the interview.
Links, videos and more information can be found at the end of this article.

Hey Truc! What an amazing project 3dSenVR is. We saw that you have been working on it since 2015. What gave you the idea back then?

Well NES console was my first ever gaming system and always have a really special place in my heart and my mind. Similar to many other children at my age, I had many imagination of how the game worlds look like in 3D. Fast forward to 2015 I was a developer working for an out-sourcing company. The job didn’t fit me well and I lost all the working motivation. The repetitive work [and bureaucracy] was really killing me; I really wanted to work on something original that I loved.

I started asking myself why I didn’t do something special [for myself]. That was when everything began, and as people often say the rest is history.

3dSenVR Screenshot Gameplay

What got you started in game development originally?

It comes to me the most natural way possible. When I was a kid, I loved playing computer games like crazy and often skipped school to play/watch other kids playing. Since 4th class in 1989, I learned in a special school for pupils with special capability in math. They did also teach programming quite a bit because math and IT are close domains. But some of us are [only] interested in gaming not programming. When I grew up a bit we naturally shifted our interest from playing games to game creation. That was the time we decided to switch from math to IT.  Classmates who didn’t like gaming followed the math path and we who love gaming followed the IT path. That’s my story : )

What was the first game you wanted to play through on 3dSenVR?

Super Mario Bros.

3DNes V2: Super Mario Bros - Remastered 3D Edition - 3dSen VR - 3D ...
Super Mario Bros in 3D – 3dSenVR

The interest in the emulator has been incredible, and you’ve shown you like to be close to the community. What’s the most requested feature that you have implemented/are planning to implement?

This is the support for the game Punch Out. I’m planning to add support for it at some point in the future. Imagine you control the character by throwing punches yourself… makes me really excited.

Punch Out is an absolute classic. Making it into a VR first person would just be incredible. Is this something you have developed in the past, or will this be 100% new to you?

I gave it a quick try in the past but quickly realized that’s not something easily solves while there are other games with equal interest from the audience which I can quickly solve and support. So I left it and will come back later at a point in the future with more skill and experience.

…and which game has proven to be most popular with retro gamers?

Super Mario Bros as you can guess. Everyone knows and loves it already so they want to try it first with 3dSen.

The project cleverly takes advantage of VR, but not in the traditional sense of a shooter, driving or other genre of VR game. Do you think the VR industry is going in the right direction, or is there not enough diversity?

Well we are still in the early stage of this current VR technology area (there were already some VR waves in the past). The tech still evolves fast and there are still many things to explore and imagine. I wouldn’t say right or wrong but I would say as of a VR enthusiasm it’s a very exciting time to be alive.

Have you been disappointed with Nintendo’s lack of VR development?

No I’m not disappointed at all. It seems to me that Nintendo philosophy is a little bit similar to Apple. They are never the revolutionists but most of the time they do provide the best and unique experience (all aspects around) to their loyal users.

How difficult was the overall development process – were there any bootstrap methods you could build on, or was it entirely from scratch?

The most difficulty I met in the overall development process is the mentality aspect. I have to constantly fight against myself and keep the motivation up. There is nothing like a bootstrap method cause there is no similar work like 3dSen in the past. I have to let my imagination fly then try to find a practical solution for it then repeat the process : ) That’s my methodology.

I see the project rather like an inner up-hill battle against myself.

Truc – Geod Studio

Was there ever a point where you thought you bit off more than you could chew – with such a massive retro gaming audience anticipating the launch?

Never. Big or not, it is how we evaluate our resource and how we limit the project scope to match it. It’s true that when I first showed my project to the public, there are some people liked it but there are also some people hated it and even talked shi@t about it. I was a little bit shocked at first but I quickly realized that no matter what I do there are always likers and haters.

So it’s all up to me. Am I capable of creating a solution for my vision, of polishing it, of finding the right audience without losing the motivation in this (very very long) process? I see the project rather like an inner up-hill battle against myself. So no, no outside pressure at all!

Was you shocked at the popularity of the project when first build was released for browsers back in 2016?

Yes I’m truly shocked, it’s covered by all big tech sites and people talked about it everywhere. For the up-coming launch not that much of a shock as you stated above: I interact quite closely with the community.

What were the biggest challenges you overcame?

Winning against myself to maintain the motivation. There are time continuously in several weeks I kept turning on my PC then read news after news the whole day until I was completely tired and fell asleep. Those are the hardest times when I lost all the motivation. Luckily I overcame it all in the end.

What are you most happy about with 3dSenVR?

I’m most happy and proud with the profile for DuckHunt game. From a 2D game it completely turns into a real 3D first person shooter game. This is 3D gameplay; I mean the ducks really fly in all 3 dimension and you can move and aim from whatever angle you want.

What advice would you give to any indie game developers that are inspired by the originality & concept of your work?

Well I was almost a loser and there is a big luck factor involving the moderate success of 3dSenVR release on Steam. So I don’t think i’m in the position to give advice to anyone : )

Do you have any plans for other development projects besides 3dSenVR?

Yes in my vision, once I’m done with NES I will probably move to another 8-bit console like GBA or Master System. 16 bits console graphics are way too complex so I prefer supporting another 8-bits system.

Thanks so much for the interview, Truc. It has been a pleasure talking to a true pioneer in VR development. Even better that you are an indie game developer who is unafraid of pushing boundaries. Truly inspirational!

Thank you for the selection. It’s really my honor!

3dSenVR – a multi-platform voxel based 3D NES emulator

PlatformPC
Buy FromSteam
Release Date2016
GenreSimulation, Action, Adventure, Shooter

More Info from the Developer:

  • Geod Studio Homepage:  http://www.geodstudio.net/
  • 3dSenVR Released 2019: 3dSen VR on Steam
  • 3dSen PC Will be released on June 19th
  • 3dSen PC on Steam
  • 3dSen Maker – the tool: will be freely released after that so the whole community can work together to support many more games
  • 3dSen Quest is being considered for the future development
  • 3dSen Android: “…and when smartphone hardware is ready, I also want to create a port for mobile too. In 2018 I already had dirty quick port tested with a mid-range 2016 device…” (See Below Video)
Interview: “Siebenstreich” Developers Golden Orb

Interview: “Siebenstreich” Developers Golden Orb

The first thing you notice about Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure is the quality of the hand drawn characters. It is because Katie and Sonja have handcrafted this funny little nerdy adventure that you cannot help but fall in love with the characters and the narrative. Playing the demo will have players’ nostalgia senses tingling, harking back to the days when they lost full days to point & click games like The Secret of Monkey Island. What’s impressive is that Nintendo Switch players will get to play the game too – not just PC owners. This is somewhat of a rarity in the indie sphere, but a fantastic string to Siebensstreich’s bow.

Golden Orb

A hand-drawn, nerd-friendly indie adventure about sustainability in times of magic.

Our nerdventure starts, as so many good stories do, in a basement. After a bold descent along the infamous Stairs of a Thousand Creaks you have finally arrived at the meeting point: The gloomy tavern “Ye Laundromat-3000”, where your friends await you. Eager to set out on an adventure, they invite you to an epic round of “Dice & Doom” – an offer you simply can’t resist.

– Golden Orb

Golden Orb’s Kickstarter is well under way, with less than two weeks (at the time of writing) to go.

Siebenstreich Kickstarter

Thank you for doing the interview! Firstly, tell us who Golden Orb is, and how you came together…

Sonja: Golden Orb is an award-winning indie games studio located in the beautiful Ruhr area of Germany. We, Katie and I, founded it in spring 2018. The two of us met about ten years earlier, in 2008, working as employees for a game development company in Cologne. So by the time we started our own studio we’ve had plenty of training in working well as a team.

Ubisoft Newcomer Award

With Golden Orb our focus is in creating narrative games. Our first game won the “Ubisoft Blue Byte Newcomer Award” in 2018. Currently, we’re working on our 2nd game, the 21st century pop culture fairy tale “Siebenstreich”. It’s an adventure game about sustainability in times of magic, featuring an awesomely hip tailor and Trudie, a vegan carnivorous plant.

What made you get into programming (Sonja) and digital art (Katie) in the beginning?

Sonja: Technology has fascinated me from a very early age, especially if it was entertainment or art related like cameras, VCRs, computers etc. And I’d always had a passion for movies and games. So I used my university years and internships to get hands-on experience in as many media related fields as I could manage to find out what niche would best suit me. Eventually I got drawn into the mystic field of programming. By chance, an opportunity arose for me to enter into professional game development. I tried it, fell in love with and stayed. It’s just wonderful to see your code come to life by enabling people to experience and interact with virtual worlds.

Katie: I’ve always been the one who during math lessons happily filled her notebook with decorative sketches rather than following the subject matter. Graphical representations of my logarithmic functions were also rather vague, obviously experimental and often sporting some floral patterns. It therefore occurred to me early on that I would generously leave the natural sciences to other people and let myself be drawn into the colorful maelstrom of artistic activities.

Somehow, I accidentally ended up in the gaming industry and have kept myself busy there since then, creating and designing characters, environments and such, animating them and bringing them into the final game. I love it when an idea becomes something tangible and brings joy to other people.

Siebenstreich Screenshot

You have poured your heart, soul and savings into Siebenstreich; is this a daunting prospect (or were you always confident the game would have an audience)?

Sonja: If you put a lot of yourself and your resources into one thing, it’s always risky. So, yes, at times sleep doesn’t come easy, as you never know if you’ll earn enough compensate what you put into development and to keep your studio alive long enough to make the next game.

From an early project stage, we’ve showcased first the prototype, later the game at conventions, trade fairs and local game dev meet-ups to get feedback from potential players, which has really helped us shape the project. Based on the response we received, we are confident that there are people who’ll enjoy playing “Siebentreich”, it certainly has an audience. What’s daunting is that we don’t know if we can reach enough people after release before the game gets drowned in the flood of the e-stores.

How has the time balance been between contract work and Siebenstreich? Has there been any frustrations at critical points in the game’s development, when you wished you’d had more time on a problem, for example?

Sonja: Developing “Siebenstreich” has always been our main focus. Even during months of contract work we tried to squeeze in some development time so it wouldn’t rest completely for such a long period. Of course, it’s nicer if you can just dive into a project and put all your thoughts and energy into it the whole way through but then a game in development only costs money, it doesn’t make any, so we had to compensate that otherwise. I don’t think that contract work has harmed our development in any way. At times, it might have even been beneficial that we had to look at our game from a distance and then get back into the project with fresh ideas.

Siebenstreich Screenshot
Siebenstreich Screenshot

Winning the Ubisoft newcomer award must have been incredible?

Katie: Yes, indeed. We were quite surprised and overwhelmed. Since our first game “Cinderella – An Interactive Fairytale” was a mobile game for children, we would have never thought that it was outstanding enough to win such a prize. We know now that it wasn’t just the game but also all of our achievements during our first year after founding Golden Orb that made the jury choose our project for the award.

What made you choose Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS for your first game, Cinderella – An interactive fairytale?

Katie: At first “Cinderella – An Interactive Fairytale” was mobile only. We wanted to create a safe game for children without in-game purchases or ads. Sadly, we realized quickly, that the market for premium children games on mobile platforms is rather thin. We thought about shifting our focus to the Nintendo Switch with our next project, so we ported Cinderella mainly as a test case. Surprisingly, the game sells way better than on mobile.

Cinderella - an interactive fairytale

On what platforms do you plan to release Siebenstreich?

Katie: Right now, we are planning to release Siebenstreich on Switch and PC (Steam). We developed a game pad interaction design so the controls fit the Nintendo Switch naturally. We both love this platform and believe there is still a small chance to be seen there – even as a small indie project. The PC, of course, is still the classic platform for point & click (alike) games. We additionally provide an original point & click control via mouse on PC for those players, who love it the conventional way. We do not see a wide audience on other consoles for this kind of game or even genre. But you never know, maybe there will be more platforms in the future. But for release in spring 2021 it will only be Switch and PC.

Had Siebenstreich required you to learn any new skills?

Katie: Besides some usual program or platform relevant updates it was mainly the Kickstarter campaign which led us out of our comfort and knowledge zone.

What was the inspiration for the game itself?

Sonja: Our basic approach with Golden Orb games is to tell a traditional story from a modern outlook. At its core, “Siebenstreich” is the story of “The Valiant Little Tailor”. Layered on top – in addition to shifting the narrative perspective from a few centuries ago to our current day – are classic adventure games like Monkey Island, humorous fantasy literature like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and many other aspects of (nerdy) pop culture that inspired us to tell the game’s story the way we do.

In terms of dedicating so passionately to supporting gamepad controls in a traditionally point-and-click-driven genre, the inspiration simply was that we like playing with gamepads and we like playing adventures so we’d really like to see both combined. As we do value the genre’s tradition and roots, in the PC version the game also supports the classic point-and-click style. So it’s up to the players to decide, they don’t have to agree with our gamepad preference.  

Siebenstreich Screenshot

Are any of the characters based on real people?

Katie Well, we have “Sylvester Stallione” which might lead to a conclusion, but he is rather inspired by a role of the famous actor, who accidently sounds almost like him. All our characters may provide some similarities to famous people, yet they are not fully based on them nor are they meant to be.

Siebenstreich Screenshot

Most developers say Kickstarter takes a lot of courage to launch; not least because you are market testing your game -but also seeking funding from a future fan base. What has your experience with Kickstarter been so far?

Katie: Like I mentioned before, Kickstarter is a new experience for us. Yes, it took a lot of courage to launch, but releasing a game does, too. It’s just the thing we do: Try, learn, improve. We did it with Cinderella on mobile, with the porting on Switch and not to forget with founding Golden Orb in the first place. It is an experience and we are glad we can make it. No matter if it works out or not. Since we knew that we will publish on our own, we had the choice to do more contract work and had to push the release further back, or we would try a campaign and maybe could finance the rest of the development without contract work. Either way, Siebenstreich will be released sooner or later.

Now Siebenstreich is in the wild, what sort of feedback has helped you develop the game?

Sonja: Well, we started showing the game to people early on, having them play development versions and taking their feedback for the next development cycle. This player feedback really helped us in finding our narrative style and finetuning features. It was also great to hear that many people liked our art style so we continued in that direction with more confidence.

If you could give one valuable piece of advice to new indie developers, what would it be?

Katie: Be strong. Don’t let yourself down.

It’s the apocalypse, and you are running for your bunker; you can only grab ONE game (not your own!) to play as the world crumbles around you, for a long, long time… what’s the game?

Katie: Factorio…. It just never gets boring – ever.

Sonja: Might be the nostalgia speaking, but I’d go for “Commander Keen – Marooned on Mars”.

Siebenstreich’s Nerdventure

More about Golden Orb: Twitter, Facebook, Website, Kickstarter, Itch.io, Steam, GameJolt

PlatformSwitch / Windows
KickstarterItch.io / GameJolt
Release DateTBC
Genre2D, Comedy, Fantasy, Feel Good, Funny, Narrative, Point & Click, Singleplayer, Adventure, Hand Drawn