#1243: Origin Story of “Pixel Ripped 1978” with ARVORE and Atari Team + Novel Game-Within-a-Game Mechanics

Pixel Ripped 1978 is the third in a trilogy of game-within-a-game series from indie development shop ARVORE based in São Paulo, Brazil. It taps into some deep nostalgia by recreating the environmental and contextual aspects of computing through the ages. Pixel Ripped has continued their fusion of mixing 2D platformer games with embodied gameplay mechanics in VR, but also adding a whole new level of multi-dimensional puzzles and time travel storytelling.

Ana Ribeiro is the creator and creative director of Pixel Ripped, and she’s been working on this series for over a decade now, and I had a chance to catch up with her and the two co-founders of ARVORE Rodrigo Terra and Ricardo Justus (CEO) at Tribeca Immersive. They talk about the history and evolution of the Pixel Ripped series, the evolution of ARVORE, and how they serendipitously connected with Atari, who came on as a publisher. Ethan Sterns is VP of Games at Atari running publishing and gaming side of business, and he was also on-hand to talk about why Atari came onboard to help produce and publish Pixel Ripped 1978.

Pixel Ripped 1978 released on June 14th, 2023 and is available on Steam, Meta Quest, and PSVR, and I very much enjoyed my full playthrough after Tribeca Immersive. There’s some innovative 2D + embodied gameplay mechanics, a light-hearted and playful narrative, and some awesome music with nostalgic environments along the time travel narrative.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that looks at the potentials of immersive storytelling and the future of spatial computing. You can support the podcast at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. So continuing on my coverage of Tribeca Immersive 2023, today's episode is with Pixel Ripped 1978. So Tribeca started to include more indie games within their selection of immersive stories because there's a lot of work that's happening with games that are including narrative components and so Pixel Rip 1978 is the first one that I'm featuring here in this series, but it's also the third in a longer series of this game-within-a-game conceit where you're playing a 2D platformer, but using different aspects of your embodiment to move around. So yeah, it's kind of taking the conceits of 2D games and adding different immersive virtual reality components. Pixel ripped is all about going back in time and looking at the previous areas of computing starting with 1989 and then 1995 and now we're going back into the era of Atari the beginning of the consumer gaming consoles and In the past they have used these big major companies and slightly changed them, but they happen to run into representatives from Atari and and pitch them the idea and show them the trailer. And Atari actually came on as publishers of the piece, put in a lot of money and doubled the budget essentially. And now just got released on June 14th, 2023. So it's out and available. You can go play it right now. They were showing a brief 15 to 20 minute at Tribeca Immersive and I played it there. And then since I've been home, I've had chance to play through the entirety of the three to four hour of the experience. I ended up spending an extra couple hours trying to trace down all the different golden cartridges and everything so Had a lot of fun playing through the experience and I'll have much more to say at the end if you are considering to playing it yourself certainly recommended to explore different aspects of embodiment and the game within a game and had a lot of moments of really deep sense of embodied presence into these different worlds and Yeah, having a whole narrative and arc and story and spatial journey that you're going on as well So we're covering some of the different aspects of Pixel Ripped 1978, but also looking at the development shop based in Brazil called Avery, which has been developing and producing these games over the last number of years. So we have representatives from Evora, we have representatives from Atari, getting back into the game of publishing, and then also Ana, who's talking about the whole development of this piece that she's been working on for over a decade now, all in all from the very beginnings of Pixel Ripped. So, that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So, this interview with Ana, Rodrigo, Ricardo, and Ethan happened on Friday, June 9th, 2023, at Tribeca Immersive in New York City, New York. So, with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:58.873] Ana Ribeiro: I'm Ana Ribeiro. I'm the creator and creative director of Pixel Ripped at Avary Immersive Experience, and I have been working with VR for 10 years, a little bit around DK1.

[00:03:12.821] Rodrigo Terra: Rodrigo Terra, co-founder of Arvory, and working in VR for nine years.

[00:03:20.146] Ricardo Justus: So I'm Ricardo Justus, I'm the CEO and co-founder of Arvory, and been involved in VR since 2013, but started the company in 2017.

[00:03:29.873] Ethan Sterns: And I'm Ethan Stearns, I'm the VP of games at Atari, where I run the publishing and gaming side of our business, and I've actually been in VR for a while as well, I don't know how long, maybe seven years, I guess?

[00:03:42.993] Kent Bye: Awesome. I'd love for each of you to give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into VR.

[00:03:49.298] Ana Ribeiro: I have a crazy background, but to be quick and short, I am a psychologist. I have a degree in psychology and games programming and a master's degree in game design. I also run a pie business a long time ago, but then I did a course and decided to make games. This is 10 years ago. and then I changed career completely to make video games. I always loved video games but now I'm finally working with it and I can see myself working to the rest of my life. And when I first played VR, it was the DK1 in 2013, I was totally in love with it and then since then I have been working and want to create stuff for VR and PixelRip just fit really good with the idea of creating a time machine. The ability of putting players inside the VR world is something that I'm so excited about that I can't design games without that immersive experience involved in the game. I'm a VR enthusiast!

[00:04:48.505] Rodrigo Terra: and pioneer. I studied communications and worked for broadcast companies and independent production studios for 8 years, 10 years before starting to work properly with VR. I always loved video games, interactivity, working in transmedia projects in many, many ways, trying to figure out the IP world and how we can branch our stories throughout new mediums and etc. And when I first experienced the DK1, I said, okay, So I think I found my media here to work, and then started to work with 306 videos, exploring what would be the language of this new stuff that's going on, that's happening. And me and Ricardo, we were friends from college, from university. And when we met in an event, we said, hey, we should work with that. And then we started to plan the company. And in 2017, we started everything in Arvory.

[00:05:50.699] Ricardo Justus: My passion for storytelling actually started when I was nine years old and started playing Dungeons & Dragons. And I feel like that's where I learned to love to create worlds and bring people into those worlds. And I feel like in a way, that's what VR technology sort of enables, right? Creating worlds and literally, magically bringing people into those worlds through technology. So I studied film in university. I worked 15 years for big TV networks in Brazil, like broadcast, always on the creative side of things, storytelling, blah, blah. By 2014, 2015, I was working more on innovation departments, trying to see the future of entertainment, blah, blah, blah. And I was already looking at the Oculus dev kit. I bought a DK1 at the time. In Brazil, it was really hard to get your hands on those devices. To this day, the Quest isn't out officially in Brazil. You need to import it. So it's not simple. But I said this is the future of entertainment, the future of communication, the future of computing. How many times such a big shift happens during your active career? I need to do something with that. So I started thinking how to start a company. And then we got back together, Rodrigo and I, and a third partner. And we started figuring this out in Brazil. It's not the easiest thing to do in Brazil. Startups in Brazil is already not easy. A VR startup is probably making our lives even harder but we spent like two years like scouting talent and looking for people and there's like a lot of like raw great talent in Brazil. It's just they're usually working in industries that have nothing to do with gaming, VR or anything like that and we just started. bringing these people in. I wanted to get a team that was very diverse, eclectic, from different backgrounds, like traditional storytelling background games, technology, art, all of that, and we put them all together to make something cool and new. And that's how, during that process, when I met Ana and Laganaru and some of these other great minds at Arvory, and we started putting people together and creating great experiences and games.

[00:07:50.477] Ethan Sterns: So I started in the film space as well. It seems like we have some backgrounds there. I've always loved games and video games were something I was always passionate about even in school. I studied fine art and after I graduated I realized that there were like other mediums that were maybe easier to produce art and get more people to see them and found myself in the film industry early on. and did a lot of technology pipeline work for early stages of digital cameras being used in film studios as well as like the effects pipelines and through that process ended up finding VR as a tool early on and was working on digital pipelines when the acquisition of Oculus happened from Facebook and everyone became very very excited about this new medium and I started a VR department at Legendary Pictures where we made, this is very early on, so we were doing a lot of experiments. We ended up doing a large-scale LBE called Carne Arena, and then after that I went to run another immersive division for a company called MWM, where I did two other projects there, one called Chained, and another one called War Remains, actually that was here at Tribeca in 2019. So I kind of have this weird background where I came out of arts and then worked through film, and then I ended up using VR as a way to actually produce art and bring it to museums, which was really fulfilling, but ultimately I still loved video games and wanted to expand in how we were using these tools to reach people, and I think We're seeing some indie games here at Tribeca and I was really excited about the growth of indie games and their ability to sort of push the boundaries of how storytelling works, how mechanics work, be more artful. So, I've been working in more traditional games over the last 3-4 years and that's when I moved over to Atari and started helping them rebuild their games division. And then these guys fell on my lap, old friends from back in the VR days and had the opportunity to work together on Pixel Rift, which I remember seeing Anna during 1989 and seeing her next to a Beat Saber booth and it was just this little underground indie projects and now it's like a whole industry and so it's really fun to come full circle on it.

[00:10:09.914] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that was at GDC 2018 where I saw Beat Saber. Is that where we first chatted?

[00:10:15.801] Ana Ribeiro: First interview, yeah. The same day we met Ethan.

[00:10:19.067] Kent Bye: Oh, wow. So it is the Silicon Valley virtual reality mixer that they have. And so, yeah, I remember having a very early demo of what ended up becoming the beginning of a franchise now of Pixel Ripped. So maybe you could talk about where Pixel Ripped began and then what has happened since when I first saw it back in GDC of 2018. So I'd love to hear a little bit of the back story of Pixel Ripped and how it came about and what you've been able to achieve up to this point that you're showing here at Tribeca 2023.

[00:10:46.260] Ana Ribeiro: It's a little mind-blowing, but it has been almost 10 years I've been in this game. It started as a student project when I was at that master's degree in England. You had a whole year to make a game, and I had the DK-1, I had bought the Oculus Rift, I was like, as I said, really excited to do anything with VR. And then when I had this dream about Pixel Rift, it started with this dream where I was playing this game and seeing this game evolving and changing the graphics of the game through 16, 32 bits, 3D, and then... I woke up with that idea, oh my god, the evolution of video games. And it changed a lot, but I think that was the spark. And it really fits with VR, because I was sure I wanted to make something that could transport players to live how video games change and make that feeling that we had when we were kids in the 80s, that we play all these games and we saw those games changing and evolving. And that feeling that you really want to see how Mario is going to look in the next game. So Pixar to start with that. But at the time, I worked one year, and I released this 15-minute demo. We call it today a proof of concept, because the idea was I want to make five levels, and each level was a year in the game industry to represent the era of video games. Of course, I was way too ambitious, so my teacher came and said, you should do a vertical slice. So I did level three, which was 1989, and that was the era of the Game Boy. That ended up becoming, after I left Universe and started actually working on this project to release it. Long story short, after three years on this indie game developer trip, I got some investment from Oculus, I got some Kickstarter that failed, I got my friends to help me when they could. It was hard to finish a complex game. And then it was 2017 when... We met in 2016 in a gaming convention, and Ricardo and Terra, we actually went for grab a beer, and they're talking about they want to leave television and they want to go for VR, and the new Pixel ripped from the Oculus Share, which I had put this demo online and ended up going to the first place at the time, because if you remember, there was not many games, there was a lot of roller coasters. So I was really lucky to be on this really early stage of the industry, so it's kind of like a blue ocean, and I could get a student project to have so much attention. And this made Riccardo, two years later, and Terra knew about Pixel Rift. And when it was 2017, I was like looking online and saw Riccardo was like opening an album, and like, we should talk, I'm like... have finished this game, and then we got together, did a partnership and worked one more year together on PIX RIPT and I got all the support I needed because it was really hard to finish a complex game alone with friends helping when they could. So we worked one more year, finished 1989 and released PIX RIPT. the first episode in 2018, and the partnership has been good. We started in 1995, the second episode together, from the ground, and released it during pandemic, 2020. And now we're releasing the biggest episode, Pixar 1978, with Atari, which is, for me, it's mind-blowing to see a student project, like a long journey of 10 years, like, come to this point and releasing a game, a bigger game than all the other ones we did, this is the biggest episode, the biggest team we ever had, like, the first game I think we had like five people every, and now it's 20 people on my team, so, and releasing with Atari, like, being able to actually be inside Atari office, have all those IPs that we love, it's a dream come true. Atari was my first console, so it's incredible to, I still don't believe it, right? And today I was actually inside Atari office working in the game, it's true matter, it's, It's a dream come true, what can I say? I think it proves that if you have something that you should just stick to it. Like, we have so many hard times that, like, the first four years was really hard before meeting Avery, and some moments like your family, like, is this game ever gonna come out? It makes you want to give up, you know, but I think you should stick to it, and I think if you believe in something, you should go for it, and this proves that it can, yeah, things can happen, and good things can happen, and this is a good thing that is happening.

[00:15:05.061] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I'd love to have you each pick up the story for when Avari got started in 2017. And, you know, we got a whole arc of a story, but I'd love to hear from your perspective of coming on board and helping to ship the first two episodes. And now we're here at Tribeca 2023 with the premiere of Pixel RIP 1978. But love to hear from your perspectives, you know, some of the stories of how that came about.

[00:15:25.243] Ricardo Justus: Yeah, when we started Arvory, I had already met Ana, but at the time, I didn't know she would want to come over. She was living in the US, I think, at the time. And nowadays, Arvory is fully remote since the pandemic. But at the time, we were working in person, especially because you wouldn't have access to as many VR devices in Brazil and stuff like that. So we had to work together in an office, but nowadays we're fully remote. But we started, so we were still doing some early experimentation, some LB stuff, some early game ideas, and prototyping a lot in the beginning. And then Ana messaged me when I started posting about Arvory, like in the very first few months, and she's like, you guys started a company, I want to move back to Brazil, so let's talk. And then she showed the status of the project, I was already familiar with the project, because when I saw that in Oculus Share, A Brazilian developer made this, this is really cool, and it really was, like, Oculus Share, that platform, the very first platform of DK1, like, only had, like, these rollercoaster, or, like, tech demos and stuff like that, and her student project was more of, like, a finished thing, right, an actual game, so it really stood out. And then I had tried Pixel Ripped, the state that it was, 89, at an event that we were in a panel together or something. And then I just loved the game and we started talking and she came on board. We gave her a team to direct the game and it still took like another year to finish. Then we started the second game from scratch, and that was a much bigger success as well, because when we launched it, the Quest 1 had come out, right? So, in terms of, I'd say probably we got the same segment of the market, but the market was much, much bigger, and then Quest 2 came out on top of that, so that game was much, much more successful. 89 was also successful, but not even comparable. And then we had actually started 78. We always wanted to do 78 as the third game, going back in time, blah, blah, the origins of gaming. But we were actually using a fake company. On every Pixel Rift, we didn't have licenses. Nintendo didn't give us license to Mario, or Sega didn't give us Sonic, so we would have Rad Raccoon instead of Sonic and these other characters. And then the Turbo Drive power system was the analogs of the consoles, right? So we were just paying homages. And I didn't even think of talking to Atari at the time because I didn't know what Atari was doing. So I didn't even think about that. So we had the fake Atari in our game. And then I was at DICE Awards in 2022 because our latest game, Yuki, the game we launched in 2021, it was nominated for the award. And I sat down for lunch and then four people with Atari shirts sat down in the same table, like serendipitously. And I'm like, are you guys from Atari? And it was Wade Rosen, the CEO of Atari. And I said, I'm sorry to ruin your lunch, but I have to show you the project that we're working on. And Wade, I showed him a video and we were originally going to launch November last year. It was a smaller project. We were ready to announce it like a few weeks later. So I had a teaser, so I never made that teaser public, so I showed him, and my intention on the conversation was, can we license the IP? That was my only, and then he was like, that's easy, but we want to publish the game. So the conversation evolved from that. and it was great and Atari is a great partner because normally IP partners are very precious about how you show the IP and like one of the major story beats of Pixel 78 is the crash of Atari in 1983 when Atari went bankrupt because of the game ET right and in our world it's because of Pixel Ripped so it's a little bit of a twist on history right and we were concerned like are they gonna let us Yeah, the whole team was very scared, like, are they going to let us... Because Pixelworks is very humorous, so we make fun of a lot of things. Not only were they okay with that, they gave us a lot of background information, like, they gave us access to, like, the creator of the E.T. game that bankrupted Atari is in our trailer, right? Howard Scott Warshaw, he was in our trailer talking about the character of our game as if she was a real developer. And so they gave us a lot of background, they gave us a lot of access to, like, pictures, like, the Atari office looks like somewhat what the Atari office in Sunnyvale looked like. because he spent a lot of time in the Atari office in the game. So it was just a very serendipitous happening that became this great partnership and now we're launching the game and we're really happy about it.

[00:19:39.050] Kent Bye: I'd love to hear any of your perspectives of how this all developed and evolved over time.

[00:19:43.953] Rodrigo Terra: Yeah, in Arvory we started the company with the vision of what could be the spectrum of telling stories in the medium, right? So that's when we brought Anna, when we knew about Pixarette, but we wanted to nurture what could be a true game made for VR at that time, right? And on the other side, we came from television, we came from film and television, so we have a strong narrative background as well, not just the gaming background, but the narrative background. and that's when Lagunado came with all his expertise in telling stories and how to embrace the space and develop the stories for the space environment. At that time, when he entered the company, he just finished the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio, so he shot the animation, which is in the dome in the museum, telling about the humanity in space. And with that, me and Ricky, we understood that That's the thing that we want to do, so games with strong narrative appealing but they are still games and we want to explore the medium in terms of how we can create our vision in spatial storytelling, how we can embody or put the body on the narrative, how we can explore more our references from the past. So we have like a retro feeling, we love to show affective memories in our games, for example. So until now we release things that are connected with affective memories, not just the homage for gaming, but the memories itself of gamers, in the case of Pixel Rift, but in the line as well. So the line has a nostalgia of playing with scale model and we're watching an animation, a linear animation. We're trying to foster what would be the best way to tell a story in the medium. And Pixel Ripped, for gaming, is the best experience. We had the previous game, Yuki, which is about a kid, alternate universe that you grab, a little dog, an action figure, and Yuki, she loves her favorite character, Yuki, from Saturday morning cartoon, and she loves action figures, and then the game is about remember how you play with action figures. So that's the kind of games and experiences that we want to have the public to understand, to enjoy and to talk about. So the franchise for us, the Pixarid franchise, obviously is an achievement because I don't know if there are many franchises with 3 now in installments, maybe Star Wars has. But since we started the first game in 2018 when it released and being here and partnering with Atari now, which was a dream for us to work, and it's super referential in what we wanted to have in the game itself. And looking ahead, actually, is that's why we are here in Tribeca, right? So Tribeca, we are in GDC, we are in Gamescom, we were in gaming conventions, but we are here in Tribeca, we were in South By, and we managed to be in the two worlds and trying to show, hey, there's a bridge. We're talking about stories, period, right? So it doesn't matter if it's in a festival like Tribeca or if it's in a very big gaming convention like Gamescom or GDC, we are there. because we can transit and show there is no difference between one thing and another. A game could be as art as very interesting and incredible narrative piece as well. So that's what we wanted. We want to be that bridge. We wanted to keep fostering that bridge and show to festivals, fairs and whatever that they are exhibiting to the public, say hey, you should just put games alongside films or other kind of experience, they are part of the same thing now. So that's how we started the company but now we're understanding that we maybe can have a voice on it as well.

[00:23:39.900] Kent Bye: Yeah, here at Tribeca 2023, in a combined, in the same space, we have the games selection that's curated by another curator, but now we also have games that are actually in the selection as well in the context of the story. So we do actually have what you're saying here at Tribeca 2023. But I want to get a little bit of your perspective of how Atari started to come into the picture. We got a little bit about this serendipitous meeting that happened at DICE. And where did you come into the picture after this had already come about?

[00:24:08.830] Ethan Sterns: It was kind of serendipitous for me as well because I had some history with the Arvory team and we had tried to do a project together in the past, never exactly came together. I've only been in Atari for a little over a year now, so right around the same time this project came to the CEO, I was brought on. And so it was like, day one was like, hey, here's what we're trying to do. And here's a new game that we want to work on. Do you know anything about VR? Do you know anything about Arvory? Which was like a big surprise to me. I was like, well, yeah, I love these guys and didn't think I was going to be working on VR so soon. So, but it actually makes a lot of sense for what Wade's trying to do for the company, what we're trying to do right now. in reestablishing what Atari is because we sometimes struggle in using terms like nostalgia games or retro. I feel like those terms are kind of overused. I don't really know what the current term is to use for what we're trying to do, but we think of ourselves as like caretakers for the brand and like Atari in a way being a bit of a caretaker for that nostalgia and that history of games. That doesn't necessarily mean we only make old games, but more about like preserving that experience that people think of when they think about the best times, the best experiences they've ever had in games. And so we were at the same time starting to work on Pixel Rips 1978, We were also working on a project called Atari 50, which was almost like a non-fiction game version of a collection of games. So it was the 50 years of games from Atari, including documentary footage and artifacts. I think it was a really beautiful piece, but it was very built in history and what Anna's games are so amazing at doing is kind of representing the feeling of these nostalgias. Not necessarily just showing it to you and you recognizing it, but like emulating the experience that the player had holding that game away for the first time or picking up an Atari controller for the first time and like what the games kind of looked like in your memory which was part of the reason why we wanted to give them all the freedom that they were so surprised I thought I was surprised that you were surprised but like we didn't want to in any way hold Arvory and Anna back from building the games that they had been making, because what they had done on the previous Pixar games was exactly the type of thing we were trying to promote through new projects we were doing at Atari. Games that represent that feeling of nostalgia, that feeling and memory of retro. experiences or experiences from games in the past. So, yeah. And I think I met Laga first at a GDC event and we had dinner and we were like, he was so amazing, so passionate about the work he was doing. And then later on, a larger group from Arvory came up to Los Angeles and we met and they had several other games they were talking about. And it was very clear at the time that the studio was coming from a place of like real passion about the games they wanted to make and the stories they wanted to tell. I mean, at the end of the day, there's a business relationship we have to create, but we always want to try to do that with teams that really love the work they're doing and feel like some sort of meaning behind the stuff that they're doing. Because when that happens, it's like no work for us. We just sort of let them do that work and we're there to support them. And so I knew that back then, and that's why I wanted to try to work with them. So when I started at Atari, it was an easy, like, happy moment for me to see, like, we were finally getting to work together. And it both worked a lot for me as a sort of an executive and a producer, but also worked for what Atari was trying to do at the time and the sort of the path we're trying to pave right now to sort of re-establish Atari as a modern game company.

[00:27:55.570] Kent Bye: Wow. So there's a lot of both rich history, but also pioneering innovation here that's happening at this confluence of this game. And, you know, I had a chance to play through the 15-minute demo, and I understand the game is launching next week. So by the time this podcast airs, it'll be available for folks to go check out. And so what I love about this series is that you Managed to create this feeling of time traveling going back and my first console was also the Atari and so picking up that Controller from Atari with the square and the button and the joystick and to have that in the virtual reality even though I'm not feeling the haptics I still get the sense of doing this abstracted translation of using my thumb rather than my whole hand to move around, but my brain very quickly forgets that there's maybe a mismatch. I get immersed into the game of being able to express my agency and have this duality of playing the 2D platformer game while I'm immersed into a virtual reality scene and then being fully immersed into the virtuality scene and so you have this interplay going back and forth between the 3D being fully immersed and then the 2D and all the different parallel stories that are happening here. So going back to the previous versions of Pixel Ripped but felt like there was a little bit more new mechanics and it feels like much bigger and more vast game with this wristwatch thing that has all these little icons that I only really had a chance to figure out, you know, maybe half of them during the course of playing the game, but I imagine by the end of playing the game, there's gonna be a lot of other new mechanics. Yeah, you have a little prototype of that here on your hand right now, as we're at Tribeca, so you have... Always the cosplay of the pixel ripped character. So, love to hear about your process of continuing to evolve this parallel storytelling at multiple levels. The actual design of the 2D version, the design of the 3D immersed context, and then being immersed within the context of the game itself. It seems like there's at least three layers and maybe more that you're playing with here.

[00:29:45.443] Ana Ribeiro: We are crazy and the game was already complicated in the previous episodes. We had the game within the game and to build a separate game, the 2D game is a separate game, we can actually release it. It's a separate code, everything is separate. Plus we had the 3D world where you have the interactions with things that got you out from the game. And as this wasn't enough, we decided let's make time travel and let's make players are able to go inside the game and now we're exploring first person. Yeah, we knew we wanted to do this for a long time actually. In 1995 we had to cut this away because it was way too ambitious to add at the time, but we wanted to do for a long time a more vivid, we call it the Dot world. It's the world where you're inside the game as the hero in the body of Dot. And we wanted to do this in 1995. We had to cut it out. It was a really hard moment for the team. And I remember we had this whole plan where you had things to do. And we kind of started building that. And we had to cut from the game. But now I actually see this was actually good because sometimes something so good that can be a whole new game. So it's something to learn as a developer. Sometimes you're not killing the babies. You're just saving for a better moment. And with that, we could make a bigger game with that and actually explore even deeper so when we started 1978 we knew we wanted to add this because after the release of 1995 all the fans were like commenting the reviews oh it's so good to be dot but i wish i could walk around i wish i could have some adventures and i was like oh my god we have to do this so this was the main feature when we started 1978 we knew this was going to be the biggest thing and the thing we we had no way we could cut it out. So this is something different from the previous games that we are really happy to actually finally be able to make it. You can walk around, you can go inside the game, explore, talk to NPCs and have battles. But we're also concerned about not losing what is essential about Pixar. And actually the start of the project wrote down the pillars of the game, the game within the game is one pillar, the nostalgic moments, the nostalgia about video games, and the WTF moments. This is the best name I got for this pillar, which is the... non-elegant design of a game that doesn't follow rules and we're kind of surprising the player as we go through and it has this comedy and pixel art, which I think is a lot about the way I design games, so I think I'm a what-the-fuck developer, but anyways. Moving forward, we want to make sure it didn't become, sadly, a first-person game. It's not what is Pixel Ripped about, and we didn't want to, sadly, become like, it's a super action game. And we wanted to focus on, don't lose the other things, what is about Pixel Ripped, and also make a new game, but feeling fresh, but not losing the essential of the franchise. And with Atari, this is something that we could do and make a bigger game, because we're like one year in development when we did the deal. with the Atari support we were able to have almost a year more of development and then we were able to put something that we didn't have in the game at the time that we call the multi-dimensional puzzles. It's the ability to go inside the game world in 3D, the dot world, you go inside, you change something, imagine you kill a dragon, it drops the bridge and now you can go back to the 2D game and the real world and then you see now the bridge is dropped and you can progress with the 2D character. So we add this through the whole game and we had the opportunity to go back and kind of redesign all the levels in the 2D game and the 3D game. It was like a big work but I think we made much bigger game with the support and also more unique so we could do something more unique about it like It's not just about, okay, you're inside the game, but it's about that connection. I think the cool thing is that connection with the two worlds and that ability to like, while I'm changing that to the game, I'm actually going inside that game and making things that matter. So this is one of the biggest things for this game. And also, of course, having Atari games. We were able to make a world with Bentley from Crystal Castles. I have all these IPs that we love, having posters around the office from Asteroids, a Missile Command Arcade, and they give us all these posters and all this. Like Ricardo was saying, like, we can talk about the crash, but we're also worried, like, can we put bugs in the Centipede cartridge and Haunted House and Food Fight? So we kind of broke those games and make, like, versions of those games with Glitch. And we didn't want to just put like emulators, we want to make something that fits into the game world. And the boss battle in level one, for example, you have a Pong breakout meets those two games meets and then you have those games coming out when you play those games in VR. So we kind of were able to explore all those IPs and bring to the next level and also fit to our universe. So yeah, that's what is more exciting about this game. I could talk forever, but I think I said the major mechanics. It's a much bigger game.

[00:34:37.941] Kent Bye: Yeah, I really enjoyed the multi-dimensional puzzle aspect of this game, because you see the 2D representation, which is pretty sparse, just like any pixelated 8-bit game, and then being immersed into a much higher resolution of the game, and then to come out and see the changes, it's really quite satisfying to be able to have that as a mechanic. and just to see how people in the virtual context are either engaging with you or distracting you as you're also trying to play a game. So I'm really excited to see not only how the game continues to unfold, because I just saw a 15-minute demo, which I think is a good teaser for this podcast. But I'm going to definitely take the time to play the whole thing before I put up the podcast, just so I can get a deeper context for it all, because I'm really excited to explore around it. But I'd love to hear a little bit from your perspective, because you said that you were about to launch this game, and then Atari comes on, and then it expands. So what was that moment of about to launch, and then what changed to then expand it out?

[00:35:31.320] Ricardo Justus: I mean, we were self-funding it, right? We were funding it ourselves, so obviously our budget was way more limited in terms of, like, the time and the investment and all that, and then when Atari came in, we doubled the budget of the game, right? So, and that gave us more time. We didn't add many more people to the team because that, we feel like the team was already, had a good size, but we did add more time to development. We had almost, like, a year, like, I think 10 months extra of development. So we shifted the release date because we knew, number one, we wanted to add all the IP stuff, right? Because now we could use Yars' Revenge, Crystal Castles, all the games that we wanted to reference, Pong, Breakout, we could use those games, right? Because now we had the access to the IP. So we had to add all that into the game because previously we were just doing homages, but also like a lot of stuff that was on our backlog, now we can suddenly fit back into the game, right? And like she mentioned, it's always like this. It's always a question of, Sometimes you have to figure out what your product is going to be and cut the rest. And sometimes it's hard for a creator, especially one with such a creative mind like Anna. But it's like she said, we want to do more Pixel Ripped, so let's keep this for the next game. And this game also has stuff that we cut and that we will keep for the next game. But yeah, in general, we just, at Arvory, we do a very creator-driven approach to development. I really believe in that. I really believe in empowering not just Anna, but the whole team. to just like be very creative and we give as many resources as we can for that and then when Atari came we just were able to expand that through more time, more resources. In every respect it became a much better game and it's also the biggest budget of all the other pixel rifts as well because of that, right? In the end, it's just a bigger, more ambitious game. This aspect of exploring the 3D world is something that we always wanted, like she said, but in previous PC gaming, you would look through Dot's viewpoint, but they were like static cutscenes, if you can call that a cutscene in VR, but you were static, you were standing still, you weren't moving around with like artificial locomotion or anything like that. in 3D space. So you were standing still and the story was sort of being shown to you, like story exposition, but people always said, that's so cool to see like that pixelized representation. And in this game we even went further and created our own style of like, what would a 3D blocky Atari game look like, right? So we expanded that in a different way. now we can actually move around and became this sort of adventure game in 3D and added to all the stuff that is fun in Pixel Ripped. I want to play a video game but now you're in the Atari office so people are like trying to stop you from playing. It's similar like Pixel Ripped game mechanics but with this whole added layer and then the interdimensional puzzles which I think is the best part of like What you mentioned seeing different perspectives of like 2d and 3d is so cool Yeah, another thing we really do like there's an entire team at our we call production design team Which is just sort of a world building team because we like to create this rich I always say that in VR, the world, it's not the background, right? It's like a character. You're inviting people into these spaces, right? So they need to be rich and a lot of the work that this team does isn't even actually in the product. It's just this world design, world building, creating, but a lot of it is visual, so creating these unique visuals and stuff like that, that then we bring and create these rich environments, right? And we do that for all our games. Even Yuki, that wasn't really a narrative game, we did a lot of narrative world building behind it, to the point where people would ask us, like, where can I watch? Because the story of Yuki was you were playing with an action figure of an anime, and people would ask us, like, I want to watch this anime. It doesn't exist. We made it up for the game. So people, like, get completely drawn into this world, and in Pixel Ripped, it's no different. And we want to transport you to, like Ethan mentioned, like, it's not about, and a lot of people ask us this, like, we're breaking a bunch of, like, rules in terms of, like, it's not a historical piece. If you want to learn Atari history, get the Atari 50 game, because we're more paying homage to, like, what it felt like being a gamer and playing those games at the time, and that's the legitimacy we want. the legitimacy of the feeling. It's a pixel-ripped twist to everything, right? It's an alternate world where pixel-ripped exists and was developed by Atari in the 70s. So it's all this like crazy world, but we want to evoke those feelings both for people who lived it and now feel the nostalgia, but also people who didn't live it. and wanted to know what it was like to play these consoles in the context of their time, because it's so different, right? Like, if you play a retro game nowadays on, like, a 4K screen, it's different from playing, like, on a little tube screen on your 1970s living room with, like, the actual, like, controllers that had, like, dials and stuff like that. So it's just, like, evoking what it was from the past is the most important thing. So hopefully we nailed that. I don't know. Like, people seem to be reacting positively. So hopefully we did a good job.

[00:40:28.114] Kent Bye: Yeah, having played through it, I definitely agree that you're able to achieve that nostalgia and all those feelings that you were going for. But yeah, I'd love to hear anything that you're really excited about of this game.

[00:40:37.988] Rodrigo Terra: Actually, I'm super well, it's the longest picture right now. So I think we have like five or six hours now and I think now we're so exploring these little details in terms of as Ricky mentioned so and Anna we Broke rules there. So we added bugs into games there that doesn't have exactly bugs and then transformed that into a great feature and great gameplay in the game and some of these details I think they are the most exciting for me and I think the audience, the public is gonna love them because it's packed of details, it's packed of references and these references are not just reference or empty references so they have meaning to that world, they have meaning to that story that's happening in Pixel Rift so they are connected and so we are reinventing for sure some historical things in our benefit, but I think the public is definitely going to love it because we put a lot of passion, a lot of efforts, a lot of creative roundtables to figure out what would be the best plot twist or the best joke, the best dialogue line. So all the team put a very incredible effort to create something really authentic, unique, but attach it to the Atari IPs, the Pixel Ripped IP, but looking into a more immersive way. You know, immersive way, I mean, how we can enhance the humor in Pixel Ripped, how we can create more moments of not just distractions, because Pixel is known by creating the distractions, so you need to distract your mother in other games. to avoid you to be caught, and that's a mechanic inside the game. So we wanted to explore and enhance them. So how we can go to the next level, how we can do better. And the multidimensional puzzles, another thing that I think the public is going to love it, because definitely it's something that you cannot do in a flat screen game. The feeling of being inside a game, it's definitely something you cannot replicate in a screen. I think those details and of course if you can explore objects in the office you're gonna see that if you explore those things some of them will react to you. So a lot of the world reacts as well. So that's another enhancement that we did for the franchise. So initially in 89 we couldn't because the technology was not there yet. So if you put playable objects or grabbing objects and that was not something super viable at that time. And we work adding those side features into the pixel representation in a way that people can actually be, if you want to be in the Atari office doing nothing and don't advance the game and want to explore the whole environment, it's fine. We'll take your time, do whatever. So it's meant to be seated, the experience, but if you want to get up and then if you have space and set a room, okay, why not? So you can explore, see what is under the table and everything. There are small things that we were planning to do in this game that we haven't been able to do in the other games and that we're exploring. Now, the Pixar franchise, 78, is the game that we believe that people are going to really understand what's the power of a game, an XR game, a VR game, definitely. How we can achieve that in a very complex, but not complex in a way that you're going to play complex because there's a lot of details, interactions, and everything. You're going to feel it, not just see it, for sure.

[00:44:14.335] Kent Bye: And love to hear from your perspective of being an Atari and working on this project. We're about a week out from it's going to be launching, so it's been a journey to get to this point. But I'd love to hear what it was like for you to go through this process and what your role was in terms of, as they're doing the development and their creative direction, what type of feedback or ways that you were supporting them. And yeah, just love to hear a bit about your own journey of working on this project.

[00:44:38.022] Ethan Sterns: Yeah, I mean, I think this is kind of what I was saying before. I mean, a big part of our job is just making sure that we're providing the resources and the feedback to the developers or the artists who are in the code in the game, giving them everything they can have. to be successful. And I think another big role that we play is being that sounding board, because oftentimes developers are working on these games, they're very close to them, looking at them every day. So we'll see them after a month or two of multiple sprints on that game. And if a build comes to us, we try to be a really good partner in providing critical feedback. this is what we thought, we played this, it got stuck here, this was a little bit confusing, and hopefully that helps the game iterate and become better. But yeah, I mean, one of the things I just wanted to throw in there is, because we are at Tribeca, and sometimes I think amongst other VR people, when we're talking about the art form, we have a lot of these deeper conversations, but the thing that I love the most about this game is just how fun it is, and how it doesn't need to take itself overly serious. and it gets to sort of break down those boundaries of what's real or not real. It doesn't matter. It's intentionally there to be, like, fun, and it's something that I think is really special about this game that I'm really excited for. There's definitely some deeper meanings, and there's some moments in the game that I think players are not gonna expect to be able to do that they're going to find, and those discoveries are gonna be really, really great. But, like, from beginning to end, the game is just, like, fun to be in, fun to play, and so, um... Yeah, I mean, I think our role at Atari and my role is both as an executive and a producer is just to be like, what is our very need to be successful? And like, how can we be a good partner along the way? Yeah, and that's kind of the gist of it, I think, from our side. I mean, we definitely did some marketing and did some, there's a lot of crazy stuff no one loves to talk about when it comes to like setting up publishing and publishing to PlayStation and Meta. And there's a lot of work that goes into that across the board. But at the end of the day, it's about being a good partner.

[00:46:39.085] Kent Bye: It's a really amazing installation here at Tribeca as well, with a lot of Atari, so I don't know if that was another part as well.

[00:46:45.228] Ethan Sterns: Yeah, we did do that, but it was like a ton of fun, actually. So, I mentioned before, I installed War Remains here, I think it was 2019, so I think... Yeah, it was 2019, yeah. So, and when I did that, we had like six, seven pallets worth of stuff. It was a 25 by 25 foot stage, it was like... Ridiculous. It was great for that particular experience, but for this one what we did was I got here on Sunday and Jason Polanski, who was a producer from the Atari side on this project, the two of us and a couple other people from Atari actually just went around New York City to game stores and we're digging through boxes to find all these old artifacts from Atari, old games, magazines, manuals and things. We went to I think four different game stores. There's one here called Video Games New York, like one word, and it's basically a museum in there. There are pieces that you can't buy, but they're on the shelves just to show that history. So it's like, again, that's exactly the kind of experience that Pixar, like, creates for people and that we love. So the experience here was great. The installation was tons of fun. We gathered all the materials together to try to, again, pull a little bit of that nostalgia and that feeling of being in that era, being amongst, like, recreating those memories, try to make a little bit of an installation to sort of evoke that. But, yeah, we had a ton of fun doing it. It was, like, one of the best days I've had in a long time, going around just buying video games all over New York City.

[00:48:13.047] Kent Bye: Nice. So I'm very curious to hear from you. There's this wrist-based controller with all these different icons, all these different stuff. So maybe talk a little bit about some of the new mechanics or dynamics that you've created within the context of the experience that you're personally really excited about pushing forward. interaction or game design or other components. There's all these gems I was collecting. I didn't quite know what they were. There was painting pixels. And so there's some of these that emerged over the course of the experience. But yeah, just love to have you speak about any other thing that you were personally really excited about what you were able to accomplish within this game.

[00:48:48.070] Ana Ribeiro: I'm really excited about the mechanic of you can add pixels to things, to objects in the game. And this makes possible to have interactions and stuff with those objects because you add more pixels. This is actually the first mechanic I ever wrote for this game. And I have totally forgot about it. And when we started in 1978, I had this moment where I was kind of going back through. I found this drive from my PC from university and I was looking at it. And I found this draw of this mechanic. It was the first mechanic that actually gave the name for the game. It's just crazy. That was never in the game until now. And I'm so excited that we finally put it. And we made it one of the main mechanics. So we wanted to add this ability for Dot, because it's the first time players are Dot. And they are the hero embodying her. So we wanted to add some kind of, what is her power? Is this a laser gun? No, we need some more cool stuff. So we created these dot powers, which is the bracelet I'm wearing here. And then you get these three different powers and the ability to use pixels in the world and affect the world. And that became the main power of Dot, where you can imagine you find a staircase, but it's so low in pixels that you cannot climb a building. Then you add pixels to that stair, and then that stair is now bigger and has more steps. And then now you can climb the ladder. access doors, or maybe you find an object and it's a cube. What is this? You add pixels and, oh, it's a door, it's a building, it's an NPC. What is this? So I'm really glad that we finally were able to add this mechanic and actually gave the name of the game. And use that as a main power for Dot. It's the main power of Dot, which has the power of the Pixel Stones. It makes the whole sense. She has this ability to affect the world. Yeah, I think that's the mechanic I'm more excited to finally be in the game.

[00:50:43.191] Kent Bye: So Pixel Ripping coming to Pixel Ripped 1978, the third episode. So it's great to hear. So yeah. And I guess, finally, I'd love to hear from each of you what you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive gaming and immersive storytelling might be and what it might be able to enable.

[00:51:01.678] Ana Ribeiro: I feel like we are now at the beginning. I have been so long in this industry, but we still have that feeling that, oh, it's still the early days, it's still the early days. But now I finally feel like, especially with Apple and all these big companies coming, headset I feel like I always used to say we're waiting for the first iPhone of VR we're like in the moment of the blackberry and I feel that now we are at the beginning like maybe we now have the first iPhones maybe now we have the beginning of the mainstream because I feel like, from now on, we now know what we can do with VR. We're kind of exploring new things, we kind of know where we're going. It got to the point that, finally, the headsets and the industry is growing. I saw so much change, like, through the process, and it's just crazy to making this game and seeing how much has been changing and evolving and adapting yourself with so many headsets, so many controllers and trackings. It's really good to finally be in a point that we have this ecosystem, that we have unity and the engines are more consistent, the controllers are more consistent, the headsets, the stores, and we finally have now, we are now sustainable. there is now finally a market and we are sustainable and we are able to pass that moment of the wild wild west where we're like oh is this gonna be here is this another hype of VR is the night that happens in the 90s and I think finally now in the moment that we realize okay this is here to stay and we are able to make games and live with that and grow and from now on I feel like we are at the beginning of something really big. Now is actually the beginning. After all this crazy stuff, I feel like finally we are going to be able to continue work with this industry and who knows what we're going to be building with mixed reality and all that, but I know we're going to be building worlds and creating worlds to put players inside those imaginative worlds. Yes, I'm excited about the future.

[00:53:06.612] Rodrigo Terra: Well, for me, I think the ultimate potential is to bring more humanity to our digital mediums nowadays, right? So, I'm always thinking about it in terms of VR, XR, MR, whatever we want to talk about. For many, many years, I think it's the first time that we have a technology and we have a medium, not just a technology, but we have a medium and we have a way of communicating with people that could bring back some human communication aspects that we're keeping losing throughout times using instant messaging, applications, social media, but behind screens, etc. When we get rid of the screens, now we are starting to, we need hands again, we need eye contact again, body movements again. We can now re-establish the non-verbal communication that we had before have a bunch of communication in digital medium. So for me always VR is about doing and going forward with the post-digital world that we now live with the physical and the digital together, but in a more humane way, not in a very super simplified version of us, but now trying to bring our complexity as human beings now to this digital, fidgetal, whatever world that we're gonna experience. And now we, I think, as Ana said, I think now we are in the ground zero. Before that we were experiment, we're here for seven years now. But I think now it's the moment that the things are getting mature, not just the technology, but starting the world, it's starting to understand a little bit what's going to come. So and then always my concern and what we want to achieve is with stories, with gameplay, with immersion, is how we can bring this humanity back to our relations and how we can express that through our stories and games. So that's it.

[00:55:13.782] Ricardo Justus: For me, I also approach it from the point of view of it being this transformative new communications medium, so to speak, and we work on entertainment within that medium. And as a medium, it's potentially the final medium, so to speak. it's infinite, right? Like, you're not stuck anymore to the confines of, like, screens or formats or anything like that. Like, it's just, there are no screens, or there can be screens. Like, picture if you're playing a game on a screen inside this world, right? So, it has this aspect of, this transportive aspect that I mentioned in the beginning that the thing that most interests me in storytelling was transporting people using imagination through games like Dungeons & Dragons, right? And I feel like now, this technology sort of enables that, so, And I feel like we're not even scratching the surface because now it's still very limited. What can these devices process? How can they activate your senses to do that? And I feel like it's just going to get better and better to the point where eventually we can just have legitimate experiences that feel perfectly real within this context. And then at that point, we're just encapsulating human experiences And they're digital, so everybody has access to them, so sort of democratizing human experience in a way, which I find very exciting. But from the point of view of what we're doing, entertainment, I feel it's just... I'm sure, like, one new medium doesn't delete the old mediums, right? So there's always going to be games that work better on the screen, but there are certain types of stories and games that can be told thanks to this that are just incredible, and I feel we're still scratching the surface. But I feel sort of validated also, because like they were both mentioning, it felt a little bit like the Wild West. I mean, we grew. We're a Brazilian VR company. We're now 75 people. Our games are successful. We're doing good business. So we survived sort of that trough, I feel. And now, where are we going from here? I don't know. I'm really excited about what the future can bring. I feel validated from Just how much investment Meta has put on this, like now Apple is making a stand as the future of computing. And the future of computing means the future of entertainment with it, means the future of communication, of interacting with other people. So to me, it's like we're still in the very early days, but I feel like the potentials are opening up so strongly that it makes me really excited as a creator, as just in general, right? not just as a creator, even, like, as a user, too, because I love these games, I love playing them, I love using it, so it just makes me super excited.

[00:57:48.672] Ethan Sterns: Yeah, I think I agree with most things everyone was saying here, and I kind of had this perspective from the beginning when I first, like, got the spark of when I put a headset on, and I first, like, tried it for the first time, where I think it provides a different level of accessibility in an interesting way for games. I love video games, and video games have provided me with, like, experiences and moments in my life that really like have shaped who I am and they're just the same way like someone's read a great book or seen an incredible movie that like inspired them or made them think differently about the world like I've had those experiences in games and for a long time it frustrates me that there's some people who can't access that experience because the game controller is this barrier of entry that we've spent 20 years of evolving the Nintendo game controller to the Xbox, PlayStation, and there's a generation of people who know how to use that, can interact with games, and I've always felt like VR has an opportunity of breaking down those barriers. and giving rich interactive experiences to people who maybe didn't evolve alongside those interfaces and can use a more intuitive interface of reaching and grabbing things in their 3D space, doing things that they would intuitively do, you know, in reality, but in this synthesized experience. And that really excites me. And to Anna's point about, like, theater being more of a market now, I think, you know, whatever, five, six years ago when I was first doing this, I still felt this way, but it was a struggle, you know. ease of access and usage of these devices was difficult for people as much as I think once you put a headset on somebody, their experience is so rich. Having them have that headset to begin with was such a challenge, and now I see, I have friends who are not gamers, who don't own any other home console, and they own a Quest, and they play games on that Quest. They don't consider themselves gamers, and they're playing, you know, light experiences like walking around mini-golf, or the climb, or things where they're actually getting those rich video game experiences that I cherish so much, but they're not held back by these interfaces that we kind of have to use to play games like Zelda or Diablo or whatever. So that's the thing that I'm most excited for is as the business grows and the content gets better and the platforms get better, more people are coming to gaming. There's a larger ecosystem. It's more a part of the common art form that we talk about at events like Tribeca or anywhere you go at a common cocktail party or a dinner. What game people are playing is just as much part of culture as what movie came out or what book someone's reading. So that's the stuff that I think VR has the opportunity to do for gaming that really excites me.

[01:00:37.420] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?

[01:00:42.284] Ana Ribeiro: The game is coming out next week. And all the major platforms, and we're excited. We work hard and we put our hearts in this game, and it's two years working on this game, so it's finally coming out next week on 15th of June on all major platforms, PlayStation, Steam, Quest. So, yeah, I'm excited for the release. I'm going to finally go get a beer and chill and celebrate, yes, and then work on the next Pixel Rift.

[01:01:09.788] Ricardo Justus: And definitely stay tuned because we have some pretty cool stuff on the pipeline as well. So nothing to announce right now, but we do have some pretty cool stuff coming down the line. So we're just really excited of making this stuff and putting it in the hands and eyes of people, right? So, yeah.

[01:01:26.992] Rodrigo Terra: And we want to create and be more part of the community itself. So we want to share more about what we're doing and how we are doing things. So that's what Ana and Ricky said. So we were putting things out throughout now these months and then trying to share more So access us on social media, we love to talk, we love to discuss, our Discord is open to all the community, we want all the news that we share, we have exclusive groups for people that are really fans and everything, but for the community itself, so connect with us in social media because we really love to hear feedbacks, to establish dialogues, discuss things that we are talking about VR, our games, the future, whatever. So we really love to have the community closer. So all channels, Twitter, Instagram and Discord for a more direct relation, we are totally open.

[01:02:25.022] Ethan Sterns: Yeah, I would say the same thing. Follow Atari on social media and Discord. We're gonna have some fun stuff going on in our Discord post-launch of 78. Some, like, play-alongs with the team here at Arvory and some AMAs. So, if anyone's interested to know more from the community, you can come by and chat with us.

[01:02:41.819] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, it's a long-running franchise. It's been 10 years, you said, that you've been working on this, starting from a student project, and now here you are, a week out from launching a game with Atari. So it's been quite an incredible journey, and also the journey of Ori as well. It's kind of a co-evolution of that. So yeah, I just really enjoyed playing the game and look forward to playing the full experience. And yeah, congratulations on the launch. And thanks for taking the time to help tell a bit of each of your stories and your journey and evolution for where we're at here now. And good luck on the launch that happens next week. So thanks again for joining me.

[01:03:13.177] Ana Ribeiro: being part of the journey with us, because it feels like you are with us following this journey. It's great to talk to you again, with the release of another Pixar game. So yeah, it's an honor to talk to you always. So yeah, thank you. Thank you for also your time.

[01:03:30.562] Rodrigo Terra: Thank you.

[01:03:30.962] Ricardo Justus: Thank you. And thank you for what you do as well. Just like giving the name is appropriate of the podcast, right? Voices of VR. I think you just give the voice to creators and to the community and like people that I would never know are doing such amazing things. And now I can learn from them. So I think what you do is amazing. So thank you so much for what you do as well.

[01:03:51.269] Rodrigo Terra: Yeah, please continue. It's amazing. That's the only message. Please continue.

[01:03:56.832] Kent Bye: So that was Ana Rabiru. She's the creator and creative director of Pixel Ripped, as well as Rodrigo Terra. He's a co-founder of Avari, as well as Ricardo Justus, a CEO and also a co-founder of Avari. And Ethan Stearns, who's the VP of games at Atari, who's running the publishing and gaming side of business there at Atari. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, Well, it's so cool to see indie game development shops like Avary come to places like Tribeca, Le Show, pieces like Pixel Ripped, which is available on PSVR, it's available on the MediQuest store, as well as on Steam, and so it's available for you to go download and play right now. And yeah, I think it's got a lot of really innovative explorations of certain themes. It's exploring the themes of nostalgia and going back in time and playing these different gaming consoles and whatnot. And it's playing with these aspects of embodiment where you are being transported into these spatial contexts, but you end up playing these like 2D games. And so you have these levels of abstraction that we're all familiar with, with playing like a 2D platformer game. And there's a number of times where I was like totally immersed into this 2D game and something would happen in the environmental context and remind me that I was actually in VR because it sort of startled me to some extent. But I think that just speaks to the degree that this game is very immersive in that sense. It's at Tribeca Immersive and so it's emphasizing different aspects of the story. Although I think that there's more of an environmental storytelling that's happening here and taking you to these different locations and places and also embodied gameplay that's happening throughout the course of this piece as well. I think the big payoffs, rather than a cinematic cut scene, it's more of you're able to blend the different realities of your physicality and your embodiment within the context of what is normally an abstracted 2D representation of these 2D platformer games and that intersection between the abstracted 2d platformer with more of your embodiment and having your different embodied interactions, whether it's taking in and out of a disc or pushing a button or grabbing a flashlight, whatever that interaction is, it's taking the normal affordances of 2d interactions and adding a layer of embodied gameplay on top of it, where you have to be aware of your body and Letting go of things that I found myself getting confused a number of times because you know you get so immersed You think that if you just move your hands But you you know as you're moving your hands and sometimes it doesn't always break away from the controller And so you have to disengage from holding one thing and use your physical Hand through space and time and moving other objects within these virtual environments And so it ends up being embodied gameplay progression loop on that front ends up getting more and more complicated over time And there's also in this piece more pure virtual reality gaming components that I felt like there wasn't as much progression or development or evolution in the gameplay mechanics. Some of the different enemies got more difficult to handle, but there wasn't an increase of skill or ability or changing of strategy from the beginning to the end, more or less for me when I was playing this game. So it ended up being Some of the more pure VR mechanics were not as interesting as this intersection between the embodiment and the physicality with the 2d representations of the platformer aspect of the game But it is literally a game within the game. So they're like developing multiple aspects of the game at the same time simultaneously and And the story aspect does have a complicated time travel narrative architecture to it, where you're traveling through space and time. And I think for me, again, the payoffs is going into these different environments and being transported into these different worlds. And so going through the different puzzles and trying to solve this or that, to get to this next narrative beat of the spatial journey and the spatial exploration that they're taking on. Anyway, I really quite enjoyed playing through the game and recommend anybody who's interested in these innovative gameplay mechanics, but also this element of nostalgia. So yeah, it's kind of a fun, innovative game in that sense. And it was just super fascinating to talk to Anna, who's been working on this for over a decade now. showing some of the very first demos of this on Oculus Share, and then eventually coming on to Avari to be able to develop the first three games. And yeah, just the fact that Avari is now like over 75 people and working on all these different experiences, it's just really great to see. independent VR game shop that's been so successful in all the different pieces that they've been able to put out to sustain the growth that they have and to continue to push forward and produce more games like this and bring on Atari. It's great to hear from Ethan to hear about that perspective and his own journey through working with different immersive projects at Legendary Pictures and Conray Arena and War Remains and some of these different museum types of immersive storytelling pieces and happen to start to bring in some of these different VR pieces as well into Atari and to bring in some of the different intellectual property and posters and recreating different aspects There's a lot of different cameos from folks from the XR industry that are voice acting throughout the course of this piece as well so you may recognize a lot of voices as you're playing through this game and Yeah, it's got a kind of a light hearted jokes and a lot of puns and very playful tone as you're going through this game. There's some side quests that I tried to complete. I wasn't able to get all of the different golden cartridges. There's at least 40 of them. And so if that's a side quest that you start to go on, then it will extend your playthrough if you want to get the most out of the game and I found 27 out of the 40 golden cartridges and then 12 out of the 14 of the melee weapons. And so you can kind of do some extra exploring around to unlock all these other side quests in addition to the narrative and the story. So there's an additional component of grinding through different aspects of the game. And sometimes you actually have to go back and play through experiences again where you have additional capabilities and abilities to play through these games. Yeah, I'd recommend checking it out and I think supporting the indie devs and the different types of innovation that they're doing and it set this really quite interesting intersection of embodiment and virtual reality and like I said there's a number of different times while playing this game where I had this real deep sense of embodied presence where I I was kind of startled and I forgot that I was in VR because I was just so focused on being able to play some of these different games on some of these original monitors and yeah just some really beautifully designed environments and scenes as well. So that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a support podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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