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Beat Saber – Developer Interview

BEATSABER

Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game that just released on the 1st of May and it’s selling as if the game has lightsabers in it… oh, it does? Well that explains it then!

We spoke to the developer, Jan Ilavsky, about the game and its commercial success (after only 2 days of being in the stores!)

1. Did you expect Beat Saber to do so well commercially?

We believed it could be good but I wouldn’t say we expected it. I don’t like to expect anything. This market is very unpredictable 🙂

2. I can imagine you were quite happy with how the videos were received as well, your notifications were probably going crazy. Did you change your marketing plans accordingly? When did you first team up with LIV*?

The viral videos helped us a lot. Our marketing plan changed completely when that happened. We didn’t have to push the game so much and most of the relevant people connected with us by themselves. We teamed up with LIV quite a long time ago. My good friend works with LIV, so it was just a natural connection. We have our own mixed reality solution, but we didn’t have enough time to make it user friendly. Their solution is ready, works great and many people already know it.

*The LIV Client is a free Mixed Reality compositing tool that simplifies, and enhances any Mixed Reality capture. The LIV Client supports OpenVR and is compatible with a large library of games, with more being added on an ongoing basis. This is a continuation of the OBS Mixed Reality filter! Check it out here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/755540/LIV/

Here’s how LIV + Beat Saber looks in action:

3. Being a rhythm game, your choice of music is very important. Was it difficult getting the licenses in order for the tracklist? And in light of your decision to allow youtubers to monetize beatsaber videos, did that require a lot of work having all the artists agree on it?

Our whole soundtrack is made by sqeepo and he is part of the team so no licensing was needed. Turning off the Content ID and let people monetize their videos was a hard decision. But we believe it’s a great thing and people will appreciate it.

4. Did you at one point consider to have a regular screen + controller mode (no VR required) so you would have a bigger potential audience?

This game is made for VR from day one. But of course the idea crossed our mind and we might try to do something about it in the future.

5. Do you plan to add new tracks down the line? Would these be released one by one or in packs? Will you also consider adding licensed music at some point? And what about having an editor so people can upload their own tracks?

We plan to do everything. Editor, free tracks added one by one, also paid DLCs with more tracks … We might add licensed music but now we are focused on exclusive content. The plan is not ready for all this stuff. Still thinking about how to handle it.

6. How much more difficult is it to program a VR/movement controlled game vs a classic PC/console game with keyboard/controller inputs? Do you reckon this cost you a lot of extra development time?

It’s very different. Many visual “tricks” doesn’t work in VR. You are also very limited by required 90FPS and high resolution. It’s also very uncomfortable to tweak small details because you have to put HMD on and off all the time.

7. Were there , if any, games that inspired you to make Beat Saber? Do you have any favourite rhythm games?

I really love Thumper. Played it a lot when it was out on PSVR. The inspiration for the game came from many things. I don’t remember how I figured out this could work, but it somehow crossed my mind and I made this small prototype which triggered the development of the Beat Saber.

Be sure to pick up Beat Saber if you have a VR set and if you’re a fan of rhythm games (or lightsabers: but be honest, who isn’t?)

Beat Saber on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/620980/Beat_Saber/

Beat Saber on Oculus Store: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1304877726278670/

Beat Saber Original Soundtrack: https://fanlink.to/BeatSaber

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Robby Bisschop
Belgian, male, born in 1987
I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.
About the author

Robby Bisschop

Belgian, male, born in 1987 I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.