#673: “Pixel Ripped 1989:” The Sound Design of a 2D Game within a VR Game

ana-ribeiroPixel Ripped 1989 is one of the most ambitious and innovative VR experiences I’ve seen. It’s a multi-dimensional experience with 2D game within a VR game within an immersive story. You’re in a VR world set in 1989 while also playing a Game Boy-like platformer game at the same time. It uses context switching as a game mechanic as you have to try to hide your playing of the 2D platformer from the school teacher. It’s an immersive nostaligic adventure that teleports you back to school in the 1980s through a chiptune soundtrack inspired by the videogames of the 1980s. Their cutting-edge spatial sound design really sells being immersed in a world within a world, and provides the multi-modal cues to help guide you through playing two games at once.

Pixel Ripped 1989 started as an ambitious student project by Ana Ribeiro, and she perservered through the ups and downs of her chasing her dreams of releasing the game for over four years. The project got picked up by São Paulo-based Arvore to help with development and distribution, and it was finally released on July 31, 2018 after a long journey through many technological phases of modern consumer VR. I had a chance to interview Ribeiro at the SVVR Mixer at GDC where she was dressed in a cosplay outfit of the main character of Nicola complete with blinking eyelashes. We talked about her development journey, collaborating with composer Terence Dunn from the National Film and Television School, mixing the immersive sound design of a world within a world, the challenges of using the buttons of an Oculus controllers as a NES controller for a 2D platformer, and the value of chasing your dreams.


Here’s the launch trailer for Pixel Ripped 1989

Here’s a biographical piece that Windows Developer YouTube channel produced:

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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. So PixelRip 1989 is a nostalgic throwback. It is transporting you back to the late 1980s where you're in a classroom, but you're playing a 2D platformer. So it's a game within a game within a story. You're in an immersive story, but you're playing a 2D platformer, and you have to hide the fact that you're playing this 2D platformer within the context of this larger immersive VR experience. So this was the brainchild of Ana Rabedo. She is a game developer who started this as a student project and actually persevered for over four years, continuing to work on it, but also eventually being picked up by a Sao Paulo-based publisher of narrative films and immersive experiences named Avare. So I had a chance to both play and talk to Ana back at GDC at the SVVR mixer, and we talk about the sound design of this experience because you're mediating between two different immersive worlds. One is a 2D platformer game that has the vibe of a 1980s Game Boy game, within the context of a larger VR experience. And so figuring out how to do the sound design to be able to blend seamlessly these two worlds together to really sell the experience, I think, is one of the huge innovations that PixelRip19889 is able to do. Plus, their soundtrack and composition and everything about the sound design of this experience, I think, really sells this nostalgic throwback. And it helps you to believe that you're actually immersed within these worlds within the worlds. So we'll be covering all that and more on today's episode of Voices of VR Podcast. So this interview with Ana happened on Wednesday, March 21st at the SVVR mixer at GDC in San Francisco, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:01.378] Ana Ribeiro: So I'm Ana Ribeiro, I'm the creator of Pixel Rept. This was my student project, and now I'm excited that after four years I've been working on this project, it's going to be released soon now. So Pixel Rep, it's a trip back in the 80s that people can come back and play video games the way you used to. Pixel Rep 1989, our first release, it's set on England. You look around and you are in a classroom back in the 80s playing a game in a Game Boy device. But then when you look up, you have a teacher in a classroom and you have to deal with her so you can complete the game within the game. So you have to try to play, complete this game, and the teacher is distracted. It's kind of like an exception of video games. You're playing a game within the game theme.

[00:02:51.383] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's kind of a game within a game within a story, because there's a story that's also unfolding here. And it kind of feels like you're playing a 2D platformer game within a context of a VR game. So you actually had to do two designs of a game here, both of a normal platformer game, but also in the context of a VR game. Maybe you could talk about that process of designing between these different types of genres in the same experience.

[00:03:15.760] Ana Ribeiro: So yeah, it's quite complex. I think I maybe, as a student, I ended up doing a really complex and ambitious project. Yes, there are two games, and there's a lot of story and gameplay together. So the background story is that you are Dot, the character I'm doing the cosplay right now, and you're starting the world in pixel art. You're inside the game world. And if you remember, everything's like gray in pixel art. So, you start as this character, you are the Pixel Stone Keeper, and then the Pixel Stone is the soul of your village. It's stolen by the Sibling Lord, who is getting this stone and using the power to get enemies. Imagine you're living in a Zelda world, And this enemy is using the Pixel Stone to get robots from Mega Man. So he's bringing all these enemies and dragons from other games to control your world. And not just your world, but the realities also outside the game is also in danger. So you are sent out of the game world to save everyone. And then you go on a mission to control and pair your powers together with another gamer, which is the best player of that time. which is Nicola, a girl in the classroom in England. And then you play as her, together with the powers from DOTS, and you both are going to fight against Iblilod. Your goal is to basically control yourself through the Game Boy and then in this mission to actually destroy Cyber Lord, you both together play. It's quite hard to explain it, but it's like you pair forces with Nicola and Dot and then you both are playing Dot in the Game Boy console. And then at the boss battle, I don't know if you've seen it, that moment those characters jump out and then you have a unique gameplay moment where you actually get to play the 2D game mixed with the 3D world. And that's the first time they get the two mechanics together, the mechanics you learn from the platform game, merged with the 3D world where you have to use the speedball to fire at objects and interact both together.

[00:05:29.074] Kent Bye: One of the things that I really noticed about the experience was the sound design and the music, which was like the chiptune aesthetic, but also like the pixel art as well. And it's set in 1989 with, you know, Ready Player One is about to come out here and, you know, March 29th, and so that's really going back to the 80s. And so you're really taking a lot of those components of that nostalgia and creating an entire both environment as well as the video game experience as well as all of the kind of surrounding music that you're really immersing yourself into that. So maybe you could just talk a bit about all the different dimensions of the experiential design that you're really trying to do there.

[00:06:05.647] Ana Ribeiro: It is a really exciting project. It has been really exciting for everyone in the team, because we have two worlds. So we have always the 2D game that you're playing in the handheld device, plus you have the real world. So for the sound designer, for the composer, for the pixel artist, for everyone, They all have to create, and we have separate folders for, okay, this is audio for the 2D game, and audio for the real world. So the whole game is separated in folders. There's a whole game which has audio, music, sound effects, and art, all separate for the 2D game, code. We actually want to release one day that separate game, the 2D game. we could release it. And then, on the other hand, you have the real world with the classroom sounds, the music, which is the 80s, and then you have the art, which is 3D. So it feels like making two games.

[00:07:01.431] Kent Bye: Well, and there's also a little bit, like, depending on what you're looking at, if you're looking at the actual game, you hear the game. If you look up, you hear it. So there's a little bit of the blending of the realities of depending on what your focus is, then you start to have a different sound design go with that as well.

[00:07:14.535] Ana Ribeiro: Yeah, we actually did the mixing a few weeks ago, just to make sure everything was OK, and then we remixed the game. And we tweaked the volumes a little bit. So we want the players to, when they look into the Game Boy, the sounds of the game, they come up louder, and you don't notice. But sadly, they're really loud. So when you play, focus on that. And then when you hide the game, you still want to hear it. But we want to make sure players don't forget they have the Game Boy. They hear it, so we kind of like make the sound a little bit more like you are down here, but not like you're actually looking at it. But you hear the Game Boy, but it's kind of like... And then when you look up, you can hear more the teacher, more the birds outside, the kids. and that feel of I'm in a classroom, feeling of your kid again, all that nostalgic that people really love it, feeling like a kid again. So we have all those sounds coming up. And then when you look to the game, you want players to be able to focus on the game. So we had to balance this really well because it's a hard edge to make sure players can get immersed in the game, but don't lose the teacher sounds, for example. You have to hear where the teacher is. You have to hear If the kids are making noise, it means the teacher is distracted. So all those distractions make a lot of noise. So you know, OK, she's distracted. I can keep playing it. But at the same time, you want to hear the game. Otherwise, you cannot enjoy that game, right? So it's a hard balance. But it's really, really challenging and really exciting for everyone, everyone in the team. gets really motivated. It's hard, but at the same time it's so fun. Like, everyone loves going back and see how a Game Boy sounds. So the sound design is worrying about, okay, this is the kind of sound that a Game Boy could do. This is the music that a Game Boy could play. And then sometimes we play of that, like the boss battle, we get like mix real world sounds with the beat sounds and we can play with some of that because at that moment you have merged the 2D and the 3D world. There's a lot going on, but it's awesome. We are having a lot of fun in all the aspects, in the art, in the audio, in the code. I'm glad it's a good question like not many people get to ask that It's really cool that you notice that those little details Because many people forget about talking about the music the audio the two games right this is two games Well music has actually been coming up a lot just for me being here at this conference this year both from you know people talking about

[00:09:52.179] Kent Bye: DJs or electro knots and tribe and just talk to someone who's using music theory for people with autism and just conversations that I've been having. Music has been coming up over and over again and I think that people kind of underestimate the power of the music to be able to create a whole vibe and I think that the music design is actually, my sense is that It's almost like you're playing two games at once and so you're splitting your attention but yet you have this consistent musical world that you're also kind of going in between that allows you to sort of have a seamless transition between these two different games that you're trying to play at the same time that there's a bridge between the two of them through the music.

[00:10:30.643] Ana Ribeiro: Are you a musician? Are you into music? Are you a musician? I'm really impressed that you have the sensitivity for that. It's really good. Most people, like you said, they don't give the value that music has. Are you a musician?

[00:10:47.983] Kent Bye: I played the clarinet for like seven years all through middle school and high school and so as a clarinet player I was never able to do improv I was just able to read the music and but I never studied music theory but just recently within last month or so I started to really think about what does the geometry of music look like, is there a way to take music theory and then actually visualize it, and use the spatial affordances of virtual reality to be able to actually understand the mystery of music, because it's so mysterious about how it works and what the structure is, and it's very linear, the way it's presented, but I think there's a fundamental cyclical structure to it that has a specific geometry. I've just been seeing how, I just imagine that an Electronauts is trying to democratize the access of creating music, Tribe is trying to have ways to be able to play a DJ music, and the wave started that way, now it's just got the music within the context of a dance party. So I think that music is something that we all have a connection to, and it allows us to connect to our emotions in different ways. It also records a quality of the moment of the time because whenever the music came out it comes a cultural touch point by which when we hear that music we all are transported to when that music came out. So with Ready Player One coming out there's a lot of the nostalgic music that's with that and I think your experience here is starting to really tap into that nostalgic but also has really amazing music and sound design with it.

[00:12:14.350] Ana Ribeiro: Thank you. Our composer will be really, really happy to hear that. His name is Terence Dunn. I actually met him at NFTS. I don't know if you heard about it. It's a national film and television school in England. And they are famous to make movies, but now they have a game school. So I think this is one of the big reasons why the game has a really good music and sound composition, because I could work with people that do movies. So I got people, like, they're working with films, working with other projects, and they could work on my game. So that really helped me to get a really good quality in the game, but also I could learn a lot why music is important. I was having lessons with audio mixing, I was sitting together with the sound designer and the composer and actually looking at their work, so I could actually give a value and I learned how important it is, right? And I think this really, really helped the game to get a higher quality than for a student project, right? Because I was at the NFTS, and they keep working with me, like the composers too nowadays, we're like four years together. And also the pixel artists, everyone. The sound designer changed, we had like three, three in the process. The importance of the sound, the music, and all the little details, I learned how to value that at the NFTS. Definitely, if it wasn't there, I don't think I would have that sensitivity to give it importance. It needs good music, it needs to be composed for the game, it needs to... All these transitions and stuff, it's so important. We have a bug here, it didn't happen with you, I'm so glad. It was horrible. The boss battle, the music was going really low. You couldn't hear the music, you could just hear the robot shooting. It was a horrible boss battle. You would play and be like, it's sad, it's boring. It kills the whole game. It's just horrible. You just stress with the sound. It's so important. The moment you take the music, that's the moment you realize, oh my God, it's just dead. It's so dead without it. Some moments are like destroyed.

[00:14:29.752] Kent Bye: Well, even trying to compose with chiptune is a whole other process. I mean, there's music theory that's consistent, but yet the actual mechanism by which you have to program with numbers in order to make the music is like, I've looked into that because I love the sound and the aesthetic of that music, but it's also like, it's sort of a whole other thing that you have to be initiated to in order to actually do all of that.

[00:14:51.457] Ana Ribeiro: Actually, something I want to add, like in the game, you didn't play level too much, but there is a participation of a DJ, it's called DJ Cutman, and it was such an awesome participation. I'm a big fan, he does a remix of old chiptune music, of old school games, and he actually dress up, he does cosplay, he dress like DJ Cutman, like Cutman the enemy from Mega Man. And I just skyped with him, I did skype, I said, look, I have this game, I'm a big fan, I thought it would be a great idea if you could be the voice in the radio. So he was like, ah, this is awesome, I would love to be in the game. He loved the game and he just did it all for free, we did like a cross-marketing thing. Yeah, so he recorded his voice in the Walkman and he says, Cheap Tune, this is the radio, he says the name of his channel and he announces all the 80s music that plays in the Walkman. But it would be funny, people would be listening to it, people would be like, you know this channel actually exists on the YouTube and you can hear it? The Cheap Tune is the name of his channel. So yeah, there's a lot of easter eggs. Some artists that I was happy to put them in the project, people that love the 80s, love old retro sounds and music, and I was happy to just bring these people to the project to join forces, right?

[00:16:15.801] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I'm curious if you could talk a bit about the control mechanism, because I was playing it on the Touch Controllers, which, they're motion tracks, so you're kind of raising and lowering your hands and be able to hide what you're playing, but the Oculus Touch Controllers has buttons that are much more closer mimicking the controller of a Nintendo Game Boy, but yet, the orientation of the buttons, they're vertical rather than horizontal, so on the Game Boy, you have the buttons that are side-by-side, And on the touch controller, they're more on a diagonal or up and down. So my muscle memory from playing the Game Boy back in the 80s and the Nintendo NES, it was a little bit different because it's a little bit different orientation. So my body was like I had to learn a new way. But also, the Vive controller doesn't have any buttons in that way. And the PlayStation VR, you can use a normal controller, which probably is mimicking the original controller of the Super NES as well as the Game Boy, much closer than either the touch controller or the Vive.

[00:17:14.184] Ana Ribeiro: It's a challenge for us to implement it for Touch and for Vive, because in our game we want people to feel they're actually holding a joystick controller, like the way it used to be, like actually one piece in your hands, right? So when we first designed this game, we weren't planning to use Touch or Vive or any of the movement. So, we are planning to use a joystick controller, that's why the GearKid, which is the name of our console, has the buttons similar to Xbox and PlayStation controllers, but it's kind of our own design, but we want to put the position of the buttons kind of similar. And then we decided, now everyone has touch. So this game has been a long time in development. We're talking about four years. So there was no touch. There was none. And now, OK, we have to implement for touch and Vive. People get a headset. They don't even get a control anymore. So we would miss a lot of users, right? So the touch controllers, we implemented in January. So it's quite soon. We had to keep the gear key design. We like it so much. But the only thing we changed is that we say this is A, this is B, with the same numbers, but we didn't change the positions. But yeah, it's still like, it's still the best experience for us, still the PlayStation controllers, because on PlayStation VR you get a joystick in your hand and you get that trackable feeling of that, right? and that's still the best demo for the game. It just works perfectly. We get the tracking of the controller and you get the nostalgic feeling of holding a controller. that you would never get that with the touch of the Vive, because they're separate in your hand and the buttons are not really similar to how it used to be. Especially on the Vive, it's complex and it's not gonna be the same experience, for sure. And also we have on the touch controllers an Oculus button that is like underneath the B buttons, it's really close, people keep pressing by mistake.

[00:19:15.247] Kent Bye: Yeah, I press it probably about 10 times.

[00:19:16.929] Ana Ribeiro: Yes, everyone is pressing a lot. It's really, really annoying. And there's nothing we can do. This is like the touch design, this is the way the design... We cannot change that button. It's out of our hands. We're trying to talk to Oculus to see what they can do, but... The many games that are heavily using the A and B buttons are having the same problem. Most of the VR games nowadays, they just use the triggers, so they're okay. But the moment you start using a lot the A and B button, you're gonna press that button by mistake.

[00:19:48.506] Kent Bye: Yeah, so back in Mario, you know, you would hold down one button with the side of your thumb and, you know, kind of push to be able to jump, and so you could, like, and so you would, you know, that same mechanism on the touch, when you try to do that, you end up hitting the Oculus Home button, because, yeah, it just happened that because it's in more of a diagonal, it just lines up with your thumb, and that it actually, nobody else, I've never seen anybody else do that, probably in part because you have this issue of when you actually do try to do that, then you start to have this thing where you end up running into other, it wasn't necessarily designed to be able to have that mechanic where you can hold down a button and kind of jump in that way.

[00:20:22.531] Ana Ribeiro: Many games just using the triggers, right? Most of the VR games are using the triggers, fire things and grab things. And the games, the most used are like, our game is old school, we have to use those buttons. We thought, okay, let's change the shooting for the trigger. It's so weird. We tried, it just does feel wrong. It feels so wrong. And we decided that we cannot change the whole game for one controller. There's nothing we can do. We wish that they can just, if Oculus could add a check, if player is pressing A or B and press the other button at the same time, don't press the options. It means they want to maybe press other buttons. Or maybe press and hold, that will solve it. You have to press and hold and not just, you press it and straight away go to the menu. It's quite frustrating for everyone. Everyone playing the game has been pressing this button at least three times, like one demo.

[00:21:18.018] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think that it sounds like the PlayStation VR has motion tracked controllers so that you can actually track up and down. And if you're trying to do the open tracking, you have to use either the Touch or the Vive controllers. But yeah, what would be perfect is that you just took an Xbox controller and had the ability to be able to track it either with Oculus cameras or with the Vive. But at this point, there's no spatially tracked controllers in that way, as far as I know.

[00:21:41.677] Ana Ribeiro: Yeah, I wish there was actually maybe a touch, like a way that you could snap them together, like the Switch, like you could just snap the touch together, they would become one controller. That would be a step up for our game, that would be so good. We give the players the option to use an Xbox controller, so you can play with or without the tracking. But then you lose that thing that you can just move the gear kit really close to your face and really see really well the game. Also, it's really cool when you hide the game from the teacher with your own hands and hide underneath the desk. But at the other hand, you don't have that options button on your way, so... Some people may prefer that experience, so we're giving that option, but the touch Oculus options buttons is something out of our hands. It's really frustrating for us as well. We really want to fix it. We have been spoken to them, but it's kind of a complex fixing. It will take time. Maybe we'll not be fixing time for the release.

[00:22:41.502] Kent Bye: Yeah and we've been sitting here and doing this interview and I have to comment on your outfit that you're wearing because you have an amazing like cosplay outfit and the thing that I've never seen before on your eyelids you have these lights that are going back and forth and they're like they're like sort of streaming back and forth and so You're cosplaying as one of the main characters. I'm just curious if this was a thing that you already were into cosplay, and you were sort of doing this iteration of designing a character that you could sort of dress up as, and how that process and that design process happened for you.

[00:23:12.246] Ana Ribeiro: Yeah, I used to do cosplay. I love doing cosplay. I used to do She-Ra all the time from He-Man. And when I started developing the game, I thought, you know, what the hell? Why shouldn't I just cosplay in my own game, right? It's awesome. So the first event I went was Euro Game in 2014 and then I built, not this cosplay, it was a little bit less polished. This one my brother did and it's really professional. But the first one I did, I actually changed the hair of the character a little bit to actually be able to do the cosplay. The laser gun was a plastic bin. I bought online and then I took the outside of the bean and the lid of the bean was the shoulder. And I couldn't find the bean with the same color of the sprites of the character. So I thought, you know what, I'm going to change the sprites of the character to fit the color of the cosplay. And I thought, oh my God, no cosplayers can do that, right? I cannot do this cosplay. I guess I'll change the game. There was a little bit of trick, there wasn't that much. I wouldn't change the whole game because of one cosplay, but at one point we changed the sprites color to fit the cosplay. And also her haircut was like Leia from Star Wars, and I couldn't get it right, so I ended up, no, she's just gonna have the hair normal blonde, and it's gonna be easy for me. Because, yeah, she's blonde because it's easier for me to do the cosplay. Some of the design, actually, it was influenced by the cosplay. I think this never happened before. Like, a cosplay that can change the character in the game. So I thought, what the hell? I'm the creator. It's easy to change her to fit me. Then I have to dye my hair every time I do a cosplay.

[00:25:02.044] Kent Bye: So for you, what do you want to experience in VR?

[00:25:05.274] Ana Ribeiro: You know, I want to see, it's cliche, but I want to see the Metaverse. I want to see the Oasis. I really want to get to a time that we are all the time, not all the time, but that we can work at VR, we can go to school in VR. I really want to see that happening, like, being able to meet your friends at work in VR and then, like, developing a game already all the time in VR. It's getting there, Unity and in VR, I'm looking for. But, like, being able to be in the office with everyone in VR, nowadays we are, but we are putting all the time and taking out and it's quite tiring, right? to always be taking out the headset, putting the headset, taking out. I wish I could just be with the headset for a little bit and not have to take it out. I could be with my headset and do my work and meet people from work and then not having to be taking out the headset. This moment that we are in, the transition, is quite annoying, like, especially for developers as well, because we want to be able to see the game in VR and just be there, work with people. showing things, and it's getting there. We have a bunch of tools, but I think they need to be more connected. So that's what I want to see. I want to see a day that I can just go work in the game, and I'm inside the game in VR, and I can just go with my colleagues and move things around, and, okay, answer my emails only in VR, and get a call, everything in VR. I don't have to be taking out the headset, putting up. It's really close. It's getting there, right? We're not that far. We're probably like five years behind, but maybe five years we're going to be near that. But yeah, I'm looking forward to that day. I want to be like the Oasis.

[00:26:54.560] Kent Bye: Awesome. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality, and what it might be able to enable?

[00:27:03.750] Ana Ribeiro: Wow, so the potential is unimaginable. I think we are now at the start of something really big, and it's really hard to even imagine where this is going. But what I can say is that I think VR, the most important rule in VR, is that VR is going to be a time machine that we always dream to have. It's going to be a teleportation that we always dream to have. And it's going to give us, like, wills to drive faster in the knowledge of everything and people will be able to learn quicker, to see things quicker. The power of any other media has shown, like, okay, I can read a book, I can get information by looking to a movie, watching a film, but it's not the same as what we have in VR right now. You can read about dinosaurs, you can read a book about the whole dinosaurs. At the moment that you see a dinosaur in VR, You learn so much. There's no way to compare that. I think the speed of learning that VI is going to bring is going to be the biggest change for everything in all the media. I see this as the big step, the big change in the world. for education, for everything. I want to be in a place, I want to talk to people, I want to meet someone in the team, I want to get information across. VR is the quickest way. Not a Skype, not anything we have today. I think that's going to be the thing that's going to change the world. This is the rule that VR is going to, in my opinion, but it's so many other things that can come that you can't even imagine right now. It's for sure game changing. That's what we can say, right?

[00:28:54.424] Kent Bye: Awesome. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?

[00:28:58.352] Ana Ribeiro: I guess I'd like to say I'm really happy that after four years I'm still working on VR. Even being in the same game, I'm still here and I have the pleasure to live all this progress and all this explosion of VR since they came one time. I'm happy to still be here and now I've got a company in Brazil I found. I was alone in the beginning, it was like a student project. And I had some freelancers helping me when they could. We got some up and downs, a kickstart that failed. But we managed to be alive until now. In August last year, I met those Brazilians from Arvory. It's the first Brazilian company focusing on AR and VR. Just immersive experience. The first one to be founded as well in Brazil. And I'm so glad I found them. We're just a perfect pair. They're like a family now. And I ended up moving back to Brazil in August. And we are like, they really put the shirt, literally. They're actually wearing the shirt now. Pixel Ripped. And we now have, for the first time, I had six people in the table working Pixel Ripped. It's a dream come true. So I think people should stick with their dreams. If you have a dream and you have some ups and downs, you should just keep believing in it because things may change one day. One day the sun is going to shine, the other day maybe not. The bad days, this is when you should stick on it and you should have faith because one good day is gonna come and you never know. So you have to be prepared for the train pass, you're ready to take it. I think that's the message I want to say. So I think if you're not ready for the train pass, you lose it. It's a big fail, so you should keep it up, even in the bad moments, to wait for that train, because it's going to come. You just need to have patience. I got a lot of patience. Four years I'm still in this game, and it's definitely worth it. So I'm happy to say now I got a publisher, I got a team, I got a family, and we're releasing this game on the 22nd of May. What the hell? It's a student project. I'm going to release for PlayStation, Oculus, and Vive. It's a big achievement. I can't be more glad and more happy for what is happening in my life. And yes, I'm super excited. I can't even hide it. So I am super excited. And I think everyone should stick to their dreams and keep going.

[00:31:21.060] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast.

[00:31:24.841] Ana Ribeiro: Thank you. It was great.

[00:31:27.428] Kent Bye: So that was Ana Robedo. She's the creator of Pixel Ripped 1989. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, I think that sound design in the soundtrack is something that really sets apart Pixel Rip 1989. It really is a transportive in a way that just has this whole vibe around it. I think having a sound design that is consistent throughout the entire experience, it makes a huge difference. She was talking about how at GDC that there was a bug that one of the boss battles, the music wasn't working and it was just a completely different vibe. And I think this is an example of an experience that really has those two mesh together in a really great way. And it's also just a really different and interesting game mechanic to be within a VR experience and playing a 2D platformer game. They really had to design two completely different games, one which was a 2D platformer game, which was trying to stand within its own right of being an interesting game, but also you're within the context of playing that 2D platformer game within a VR experience and to be able to find ways to context switch and seamlessly blend these two games together and to use the sound design as this multimodal way of paying attention to your surrounding environments but being able to kind of split your attention between playing this other game. And so it's something that the VR medium I think is uniquely suited to be able to do these types of gameplay mechanics and these types of context switches. The other thing was just all the trouble that they had to do to be able to work with these Game controllers that were not necessarily designed to be able to do the types of gameplay mechanics that they wanted to do So you have to take into consideration that this is a game that spanned over four years of VR development so she really went through from like DK 1 to DK 2 to then and you know, eventually having the release of the CV1 and then not having the touch controllers and then the touch controllers. So there are like these different phases of being able to deal with all these technological changes and be able to adapt. And so it sounds like that this game is probably best played on PSVR, just because you have these controllers that are the closest analogs to the NES controllers that can be tracked spatially. So being able to lower your hands and be able to hide the Game Boy that you're playing within the context of this game, that's just a much more satisfying mechanic to actually, you know, physically move your hands and to have that embodied experience of that. Both with the Steam controllers and the Oculus Touch controllers, they don't have the same button configuration as, you know, either the Xbox or, you know, the NES controllers. Really, it's like the NES controllers where you can imagine you know, using your thumb to be able to push two buttons at once. And it's just, it's a little bit more difficult to do, and it's not necessarily fully optimized to be able to use the type of gameplay mechanics that they were trying to do. So I think that's the challenge, that they were trying to really innovate with the gameplay mechanics. And this is a game and an experience where there was just a lot of things they had to do in order to have these different compromises, depending on what platform you end up playing this game on. The other thing that was really striking about this interview was just to get a little bit more of the context of the story and the journey that she's been on for the past four years, just the ups and downs of that development cycle. And she had a Kickstarter back in 2015 that only raised about a third of the amount that she was trying to raise. So then she just continued to persevere and eventually got picked up by some other developers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, from Avare, that she was able to get some help to be able to actually bring this project home and be able to release it on all these different platforms. for her it's just this dream come true to be able to produce a virtual reality game and to be there through the evolution of all these different iterations of virtual reality. And yeah, I think also just the fact that she had created this whole cosplay character and that there was this iterative interface between her dressing up as the main character of Nicola, but to have this iterative process by which some of the things that she wanted to dress up as actually feed back into the design of the character. And so It's just something that I think has a lot of really great branding and marketing and overall just a great soundtrack. I think the fact that she was working with somebody who was trained from National Film and Television School, I think it shows if you are working with composers that are coming from, you know, traditionally trained and be able to look at the cinematic you know, movie scoring or film scoring and to be able to use those skills to be able to apply to video games. I think that also helps a lot in terms of trying to create this narrative tension within the context of this game within a game. So, Pixel Ripped was originally going to come out in May, but it got delayed until July 31st, 2018, but it's now out and available, so definitely go check it out. So, that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Wizards of VR podcast, and if you enjoy the podcast, then tell your friends, spread the word on social media, leave a review on iTunes, and consider becoming a member to the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So, you can donate today at patreon.com. Thanks for listening.

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