This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As video games break further into the realm of virtual reality, "A Legend of Luca" brings an homage to gaming's past along for the ride.
When players don their virtual-reality headsets, "A Legend of Luca" ($19.99 for the HTC Vive) transforms the room into a dimly lit dungeon filled with fearsome skeletons and other monsters. Luckily, the player is armed with weapons like a sword and a bow, nods to Legend Studio developer Bryan Livingston's beloved "Legend of Zelda" series.
It doesn't much matter what size the player's room is, either. The game's dungeon world scales to fit it.
Livingston, who lives in American Fork, has long been excited for the possibilities that virtual reality opens to gaming. He became particularly interested in virtual reality's ability to scale digital environments to the player's physical room when he visited The Void, a gaming center in Lindon that uses that technology.
In some other virtual-reality games, players point and click where they want to go, and the game teleports them there. But in that case, players have no need to walk around and end up standing in one spot which "seemed kind of lame," Livingston said.
When Livingston tried to think of ways a game could take advantage of transforming a room, he remembered the "Zelda" games he played as a boy, with its sprawling, labyrinthine dungeons filled with puzzles to solve, monsters to slay and chests to loot. "A Legend of Luca" was born from that.
But virtual reality comes with all sorts of considerations that traditional games, played on screens, never needed to worry about.
Designing "A Legend of Luca," which came out Tuesday, forced Livingston to rethink how games work. The characters can't be "knocked back" the way they normally might if an enemy hits them. He can't manipulate players' speeds or force them to jump in the same way, either.
"I had to give up complete control of the player's movement," he said.
When Livingston began programming the game last December, he also took cues from the relatively recent "The Binding of Isaac," a game that challenges players to reach the end without dying. (The style is similar to an arcade game.) If a player can make it through "A Legend of Luca" without dying, the game would last about 30 minutes.
It's good that the game isn't longer than it is, Livingston pointed out. The character might be armed with magical weapons, but one of the players' best assets is stamina, as they try to complete the physically intense game.
The HTC Vive headsets that the game is played on begin shipping this month, but the rollout hasn't been without hiccups. Some Vive customers who pre-ordered the system had those orders canceled because of processing issues, according to a blog post on the company's website on Saturday.
"We're actively working to resolve this and have already reinstated orders for some customers," the blog reads.
Livingston also has plans to develop a version of "A Legend of Luca" for Oculus Rift, which has similarly experienced delays in shipping its first commercial headsets. The "first set of Rifts are going out slower than we [originally] estimated," CEO Brendan Iribe tweeted on Saturday, "so we're giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international."