Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a cooperative party game with one person is in VR who has to defuse a bomb, but has to be instructed by friends outside of VR who reading a paper manual based upon the descriptions provided by the other player. They two or more players have to communicate with each other to describe the bomb in order to know which section of the instructions to read in order to diffuse it.
I think that Keep Talking has the potential to be a breakout, VR party game experience that helps introduce VR to the mainstream. After hearing developer Ben Kane talk about how people have been reacting to it, then I think it has the potential to really take off. It’s certainly built up a lot buzz in the VR community.
It was developed as a part of the 2014 Global Game Jam, and the developers noticed that there would be a crowd of people that formed around someone having a VR experience. This inspired the developers to create a game that would allow the crowd to play a game with whomever was in VR.
Ben talks about the gameplay mechanics of both the VR bomb diffusing experience as well as reading the instructions. The goal was to have interaction be the key component in this game design. They focused on fostering interesting and silly communication because they needed to have a reason for the players to talk to each other. If either side goes silent, then something has gone seriously wrong.
Part of the gameplay is to be able to isolate which portion of the puzzle that they’re working on. The best strategy is to identify the puzzles, and then work through them sequentially. It is possible to do them in parallel with a large enough team reading through separate sections of the manual, but they found that the most efficient and effective approach is to maintain consistent and granular communication with each other.
Space Team is collaborative game where there’s synchronous real-time communication, and sometimes the first rounds of Keep Talking gameplay of new teams resembles Space Team. As people get more experienced, then they start to develop more sophisticated strategies and become efficient at communicating.
They found that the difficulty in communicating the visual concepts was difficult enough to avoid having to resort to misdirection or tricks within the instructions.
He talks about all of the new puzzles, pacing events and other gameplay elements that they’ve been adding since the game jam back in January 2014.
They’ve also designed the levels so that it’s virtually impossible for someone to diffuse the bomb by themselves because of the procedurally-generated and random nature of each bomb as well as each set of rules. It’s even hard for the developers to diffuse the bomb in the most hardest settings.
Ben shares some Insights from watching people play it, as well as the emotions that people get from it. It was also surprising to see the parent and child relationships, and it’s interesting to hear about strangers diffusing a bomb together.
People laugh a lot to cope with the stress. Even if they fail miserably at being able to diffuse the bomb, people still have so much fun that they’ll often line up to play it again.
They originally used the Razer Hydras to diffuse the bombs in the game jam, but they’ve simplified the game controls so that they don’t need to use motion controllers.
Finally, Ben talks about how they’ve been sustaining themselves while they’re working on for more than six months, and that in the end they’re happy to break even and gain a lot of experience in creating a VR game.
Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio