In the 21st century, as computers and technology as a whole continue to grow and expand, people tend to forget how much hard work can go into making a picture look as great as it is. Movies such as Avatar, The Hobbit, The Avengers, and even Transformers are all masterfully crafted and do a superb job of bringing the world of make-believe to life.
One person who worked on those films, in particular, knows a thing or two about how hard work and effort can turn any idea into gold. Visual effects artist Jarom Sidwell has been an integral part of some of the past decade's biggest films and is known for bringing fantastical creatures and characters to life in a photorealistic way. However, he recently decided to turn his attention to the world of video games to work on a passion project of his.
DvG: Conquering Giants is a brand new VR game that is coming to Oculus, Steam, and later Playstation VR, and follows young David on a quest that leads him throughout various lands and dangers that land him directly in front of Goliath himself with nothing but a sling and faith. Much like the Avengers, the challenge that stands before David, and by extension the player, may feel impossible, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.
We were recently able to chat with Sidwell about his past work and his experiences on DvG. There is a full audio interview with Sidwel below, and for more chats on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, we also have another interview which features Gimli himself, Johnathan Rhys-Davies. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Darth Lexii: Can you tell me a little bit about the game itself?
Jarom Sidwell: There are monsters, and there is a shepherd boy. You become the character, David, the young shepherd boy whose first task is to watch his sheep. Dad gives you a sling or a slingshot, depending on the difficulty level that you want. There are wolves in the bushes nearby; watch out for them and don't let a single sheep get eaten. And thus the game begins.
Comic Brooks: Is the character's sling the only weapon he has?
Jarom Sidwell: No, but we want you to be able to master the sling over time. The bad guys, the lion, the bear, and of course, Goliath, himself get tougher. They skill up, and you skill up with them; as I mentioned before, we also have a slingshot in the game—the sling, which is difficult and pretty challenging to master, but fun and rewarding. And then you have a slingshot, which is a simple pull back, aim, and light it up.
Comic Brooks: I heard that you were attached to another project in a similar vein before this one?
Jarom Sidwell: I work with immersive history and what we wanted to do was bring the past to life. We got together with some archeologists, rabbis, tour guides, and building ancient Jerusalem. Ancient Jerusalem is thirty feet underground. There are tons of digs going on and archeology over there. And we thought that is tough. Nobody knows what it looks like from 2000 years ago. So, we built an accurate 3d model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. It's fun. We turned that into a living museum because you put on a virtual reality headset, and you can walk around and see the priest lighting the menorah, and you can click on things or pick them up for yourself. It's immersive. You can see people coming in and offering their goats. Bill, the founder of Virtuous VR Gaming, saw what we were doing with the immersive Bible project. He thought that was awesome and wanted to get together to talk over some ideas. Bill went in and experienced the whole virtual reality thing. He said, "oh, this is cool. What do you want to do next?" And I said, "I'm glad you asked, Bill. I wanted to put you (the player) in the stories more." He was like, "well, what's the best story?" And I said, "David versus Goliath, it's the greatest duel of all time. You got a little boy and a giant soldier with a sword and spears versus a sling. That's the greatest underdog story ever!"
Darth Lexii: What was your favorite element when it came to creating the game?
Jarom Sidwell: We wanted the game to be family-friendly. So, we brought in a bunch of playtesters. We brought in ten to fourteen-year-old kids. This was at the very beginning when we were white boxing or prototyping. The wolves are these gray cubes with round heads to get the gameplay down. When about ten wolves surrounded the kids, they got scared. Because of my experience with films, we were going for a more photo reel type of look initially, but after we got that feedback, we realized we needed to take this back a notch. Make the art more cartoony looking. Because of that, everything took on this cartoony feel.
*This article has been edited for clarity*
DvG is a reimagined immersive experience that puts players in the shoes of a young King David, a shepherd boy. Featuring a vastly detailed world of exploration, the player must protect their flock from predators like wolves, bears, and lions before taking on the giant, Goliath himself.
DvG: Conquering Giants will be available on November 23rd through Steam and Oculus. Also, make sure to check out the game's official website for more information!