The video gaming industry has been rapidly changing since the Atari game system came out in 1972. We’ve gone from playing video games exclusively on a gaming system to playing them on our computers and mobile devices. Now, gaming is taking a step even further by experimenting with virtual reality, which is immersing players into a new world around them. Labrodex Studios of Jericho is taking full advantage of the new movement with two games that use some of the latest innovations that are driving the industry forward.
Company founder Jim Ivon wanted to create a game that combines a shooting exploration game with virtual reality called Scraper. He opened the studio on Dec. 5, 2016, to make his dream a reality, teaming up with programmers from around the country.
“We have workers from various backgrounds, including a guy from Epic Games [the company behind popular video game Fortnite] who is helping us work on our project,” said studio public relations specialist Hunter Fenollol.
Ivon teamed up with an author, Ryder Windham, to make a novel that serves as a prequel to the game itself. Scraper: The Rise of Cifer focuses on the game’s antagonist, Cifer.
“He’s an artificial intelligence (AI) running a mining project telling the humans how to live,” said Fenollol. After an explosion caused by the humans’ choice not to listen to Cifer, he makes a choice that begins the events of the game itself. “Cifer thinks ‘Wow, humans don’t deserve to live under their free will. They need to be controlled.’ The focus on the game is on defeating Cifer,” Fenollol said.
The game, which the studio hopes to release on retail gaming platform Steam by Oct. 1 of this year with Oculus Rift support, takes place in the year 2076 in the city of New Austin. Casey Maxwell, the playable character of the story, is a member of the Human Resistance Force trying to take back the skyscrapers from Cifer and his army of robots and stopping them from eliminating mankind. The game has easy-to-use locomotive controls and has a crafting system that can help make you and your mobile pod even stronger. Labrodex Studios wants players to feel the realism of the game with its implementation of VR and the Unreal Engine but also wants players to sit back and enjoy the story.
“We acknowledge that a lot of people like to sit while they play. It’s fine tuned to where people can play the game for a long time,” Fenollol said. “Scraper is different because other VR games are lacking depth. We’re not a Triple-A studio, but we’re shooting for Triple-A quality.”
Scraper isn’t the only game that Labrodex Studios has been working on. The studio dipped its toe into augmented reality when it released DEX: Your AR Dog Companion on the Apple Store and Google Play in March. The mobile game uses the Unreal Engine to make it look like you have your own virtual dog in the room you are playing the game in. The app lets you customize the dog while requiring you to take care of it and teach it to perform tricks.
“I was hyped about it the minute I heard it,” Fenollol said. “I was like ‘Wow, I have to try it,’ and it came out great. It was crazy how fast it all came together as well. One day, Jim was developing the idea and the next, he had 25 animations.”
The team is also promoting the Guide Dog Foundation, a group that provides guide and service dogs free of charge to blind individuals, and encourages those who play the app to donate. While the studio is in the middle of moving to Melville, it continues to work on ways to make its games better. As the Electronic Entertainment Expo is currently underway, with the biggest gaming companies making major announcements for games in the now, Labrodex Studios will continue to look toward the future.
“With [the industry] growing the way it is, we wanted to become one of the first studios to go all-in on virtual and augmented reality,” Fenollol said. “We aim to give you hours of entertainment like a real game, as opposed to just experiences.”
Visit www.labrodex.com for more information on Labrodex Studios. Visit www.scrapernetwork.com if you are interested in Scrapers.