James Green is the creative director at Carbon Games, and he was inspired to create AirMech: Command from playing a 1989 game called Herzog Zwei, which was one of the first real-time strategy games that also used a gamepad as the primary control scheme. It’s usually recommended to design a game from the ground-up with VR in mind, but the VR port of AirMech’s tabletop aesthetic works really well in VR and gives you the feeling of being able to watch your childhood war toy battles come to life. I had a chance to catch up with James at the Oculus Game Days event at GDC where he talked about his inspirations and VR design process.
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AirMech: Command allows you to either focus on strategy by hanging back to produce units and direct the battle from your base, or you can take a more active approach by fighting on the front-lines or moving units around. There are multiplayer modes available where you can play against other people, or you can do a co-op mode where one player focuses on offensive strategy while the other focuses on defensive battle. There will also be spectator modes available for people to watch and learn from other expert players.
James says that playing against the AI can help you get to a certain level of understanding the basic mechanics and strategy of the game, but that it gets really interesting when you start to play against other humans who are a lot more unpredictable.
Because most RTS games are played on a mouse and keyboard, then there’s a lot of controls that needed to be translated into the gamepad controller. There’s an extensive tutorial at the beginning to teach you all of the controls. While this shouldn’t be too much of a barrier for most experienced gamers, I wouldn’t expect that this would be a good first-time VR experience for non-gamers.
AirMech: Command is launching on March 28th for $39.99, and is rated as comfortable.
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Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio