Team Junkfish’s Monstrum was a popular source of jump scares and panic during the development kit era of the Oculus Rift. While many gamers and virtual reality (VR) enthusiasts would share stories about the horror they discovered within this procedurally generated world, the developers of the videogame have yet to share their stories. That is, until now.
“It is easy to forget the area around yourself when you are wearing the VR headset,” states Stephanie Bazeley, Programmer at Team Junkfish. “I was leaning forward to look through one of the windows in Monstrum when the monster roared behind me making me jump in my seat and smash the headset against the monitor in front of me.”
Bazeley is aware of her tendancy to easily startled, and yet worked with the young team of developers at Team Junkfish on a videogame centred around the idea of invoking just that.
“I’m probably the worst in the office for playing horror games as I tend to jump a lot from being scared easily.”
However, to Bazely’s credit, it wasn’t just her who often found Monstrum’s panic moments too much to bear. Taking the videogame on the road to numerous gaming events across the globe Team Junkfish found that many players reacted in the same way.
“People would get a fright and forget that headphones were placed on top of the headset. They would rush to take the thing off making the headphones fall to the floor and break. This happened a lot during shows: the joys of letting the public play VR for the first time!”
Bazeley is clearly aware of the affect that VR – and Monstrum in particular – can have on an unsuspecting audience. Or in her own case, an audience that is fully aware of what the videogame is intended to do. In closing however, she regales VRFocus with a tale that’s all too common for VR developers, journalists and afficiondos alike:
“When testing out a new feature I would just pull the headset up and balance it on my forehead as I tweaked code. I went out for lunch one day after a long session and the lady serving me pointed to the big indents on my forehead asking me if I was ok!”