Last year, we created a VR locomotive system that prevents players from getting motion sickness so that you can run, fly, and grapple without worry.
Keigo (Founder/Developer): I am the VR and anime obsessed founder who quit his secure, fulltime job as an engineer to start this studio. I also convinced my little brother, Shun to do the same, so we now develop together. He's sitting behind us so feel free to shoot him questions too! Naoya (Producer): I am the older brother-like existance for the two, and also the producer. I am a total anime/manga otaku, and my super power is that I can predict the anime from hearing just the sound effect used in their episodes. I also cook nutritious meals on Wednesdays for anyone who's hungry.
Whether it's regarding the game, VR dev life in Japan, or anything else, please ask us anything!
If you'd like to support us, we are currently holding a Kickstarter for Little Witch Academia.We will also be at Crunchyroll Expo, Tokyo Game Show, and AnimeNYC, so if you're in town please stop by!
Edit @ 11:40 AM ESTExcuse us while we take a quick ocha break! We are back! Edit @ 2:40 PM ESTIt's almost 4 am for us, so we are gonna retire for a bit. We will be back in a few hours! Oyasumi-
Edit @ 11:30 PM EST And we are back!
Seems like a cool game that you're making. A few questions as a Lil' Witch Aca fan:
How involved will Yoshinari-san be involved except for the creation of an original story, art direction for character customization?
How involved is Trigger with the VR game? Seeing as how the last Little Witch Academia game didn't fare well, one would think that Trigger would want more oversight on any future games with their own original IP branding. IF Trigger is involved, what is the extent of their involvement, will they be animating an original sequence for you guys?
How involved will the seiyu's be for the game? Will you be bringing back everybody to voice new lines for the game or will you be re purposing existing dialogue supplemented by text?
Will you be bringing back YURiKA and Yuiko Ohara for an original song for the game since they are also tied to the franchise?
Your other game BE THE HERO seems to garner a "mixed" review where-in it's fun concept but underproduced. I can't seem to find any other information about the game except that it seems you had some of the concept arts produced all the way back in 2017, and the only components seem to be befriending and racing. Can you go into more detail as to what we can expect that's not a bullshot meant for promotional purposes?
$47,314 that you're asking for on kickstarter, after the fee's you'd be looking at around $40,000 for the development of the game. Having asked the things above, the number seems very small even for a VR title and with less than a year until release. The campaign for kickstarter started on July 3rd 2019 and ends in 7 days. Why are you only coming to do an AMA now during the "final" stretch? Also will you be transparent and open about how the funds will be used? Seeing as how you'll be at CR Expo, TGS and AnimeNYC, from my personal experience doing those press shows cost more than 40k for sure. Is the asking amount quite small especially producing it for 3 platforms?
Why did you decide to rebrand your company with only 1 game currently released?
I'm sure that you guys are fans of the series yourself and Studio Trigger, which is why you want to make the game, but with the gaming community having been burnt by kickstarters like Mighty No. 9, Shenmue 3, etc. I'm sure people both fans of the series and community would feel more at ease if all or even some of the main points are answered. Thanks.
Naoya will be answering your questions:
And lastly, the whole UNIVRS team loves and respects Little Witch Academia and decided to work on this title because we all wanted to meet Akko and her gang. We also have Trigger's help and blessing, so we believe that we will be able to make a great game!
As Chariot says, "Shinjiru kokoro ga anata no mahou" and that is our mantra. :)
I'm curious why you decided to make a licensed game based on Little Witch Academia in particular. Were you approached by Trigger to make it, or were you simply passionate about the anime and the goal was to make a game based on it from day 1? Did you have the concept of broom racing in mind when starting development out, and if so did you consider an original IP, or something more popular in the West like Harry Potter? I love LWA and am beyond excited for the game, but I can't help but wonder what the story is.
We made several magical powers to experience in VR, and when we created the broom flying locomotion, we already had LWA in mind. We actually didn't think we would recieve the rights for LWA, but through lots of networking and luck, Trigger allowed us this miracle so we were very delighted! We did and are still considering Harry Potter for future games, but we have yet to speak with Warner Bros!
Have you ever seen or played the Harry Potter quidditch game?
Oh wow! We actually we never played this, but it looks very helpful for our game! We just shared it within our dev chat. We will be ordering a copy and dusting off Shun's ps2!
Thank you for the suggestion!
What’s your plan for the story and gameplay of the game? How will the player get to interact with the existing characters in the series?
The story will take place within the LWA TV series timeline. You will get to fly with a character of your choice, and the longer you fly with them the more your friendship will develop (ie You can enjoy Diana's tsundereness). For more details, feel free to take a look at our kickstarter page under Updates and Campaign!
Will you be able to do a barrel roll? Will you be able to catch Diana or Akko when they're falling down?
Keigo: My brother is currently testing out barrel rolls while he tries not to puke... It's gonna be a challenge if we do put it in!
Naoya: I LOVE that scene, but I don't think we will be putting the LWA girls in that kind of danger in our game.
When will the game be coming out, and will it be on Steam?
We have estimated for June 2020, and it will be available via Steam :smiley:
How did you get the courage to just up and quit and donit?
Keigo: I believed the VR world would be shaped by the first creators, and I really wanted to contribute to help make it life changing! But it was a scary decision, and I couldn't have done it alone so I'm grateful I had my little brother with me all the way!
Hey! It's always great to see more devs working on VR, what makes your locomotion system so good at preventing motion sickness?
It's not something I've personally experienced but a lot of my friends who have tried my headset on have complained of it!
Thanks for asking!
To put it simply, we convince the player that they're in full control of their motion in the same way that a person driving usually doesn't get car sick.
We needed tons of development and adjustments in gesture recognition and had a lot of human guniea pigs.. hehe
Will the graphics for this game look better than Little Witch Academia Chamber of Time/almost the exact same as the anime?
It is very difficult for the PSVR to handle the same amount of polygons and shaders as regular ps4 games, so we have to improvise quite a bit with textures and other tricks. We are currently building the gorgeous environments that are in the anime as efficiently as possible. We will work hard to provide the nicest graphics!
What would you most like to tell us that no one ever asks about?
We wish people asked us "What anime do you recommend for a good cry?" And we both would say Garden of Words by Makoto Shinkai. Get your tissues ready if you haven't seen it (´；ω；`)
If you have contact with Trigger, can you ask them if they can make more Kill la kill?
We got the same exact request at AX. We will pass along the message again!
Any plans on bringing it to the Quest? Looks promising, keep up the good work guys! 頑張れ！
Yes! The release date depends on how quickly we can be approved by Quest. However, we are already in touch with Oculus and showed our prototype, so we will communicating with them to release it ASAP with the other VR systems. We appreciate your encouragement.
First I wanna thank you for doing this, both the AMA and the game. But I notice the kickstarter is listed as "all or nothing", which means you'll give all the money back if you don't reach your goal. Why not just take what donations you can get? Sorry if this rude haha but I'm curious to know.
We're happy we get to interact with Reddit, and your question isn't rude please don't worry.
We chose Kickstarter because our friends over at Trigger used it to raise funds for LWA: The Enchanted Parade. Perhaps we also like that we can only unlock the money through the power of LWA and VR fans!
I guess it won't be possible, but... Is there any chance for a Switch version using Labo VR? I joined the KS but I don't actually have a PC/PS4 VR set
Thank you for supporting us!
It would be super awesome if we could make it for Switch's LaboVR, but their system is quite different so it would require us to basically remake the game. We also have yet to acquire their dev kit so it might be a while. We will let you know when it's possible!!
Is VR more popular in Japan or as much of a niche as here in the West?
Also, what's your favorite anime?
It's niche, but Virtual Youtubers are becoming very popular and that's attracting a lot of otakus so the popularity is rising.
Keigo: I love all sort of anime, but I have to say Digimon Adventure
Naoya: Give me a month to choose!
Hi, will there be other movement aspects to the game besides flying? For example, would you be able to walk around Luna Nova?
There is no walking mode, but there is a free mode where you can simply explore all the stages while flying.
What is it like being in the game design industry ?
I think the VR industry is a little different than the general game industry. Because the Japanese VR industry is still small, we all know each other and are more like a community that helps each other out whether than competing. It's a nice community to be a part of, and it's fun to challenge new things with everyone. We struggle together, learn together, and drink together :)
What are your favorite foods?
Keigo&Naoya: Yes muscle! (anyone watching "Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?" now?)
Top 3 anime?
Top 3 video games?
Top 3 anime:
Top 3 Video Game
Top 3 anime: give me three months to choose
Top 3 video game:
What anime do you think shaped/inspired your game (Style, story, etc) or did you try to do a homage to all animes?
Little Witch Academia belongs to Trigger so we are strictly following their work to shape this game.
On our own, we are constantly watching anime and wondering how fun it would be to make a VR game out of it. For example, we went to go see Promare and went on for hours about how we could turn it into a VR game. It's become a habit and we love it!
Of the cast of Little Witch Adacemia, who would you pick as your personal favourites?
Keigo: Because I got to meet Megumi Han in person for recording our demo, I have to say she has fully won me over.
Naoya: Fumiko Orikasa because she acts for too many of my favorite characters.
Is VR popular in Japan? In America it is a little popular, but it still seems like a small industry. I like VR so I hope it becomes more popular.
Do you enjoy working with VR? It seems fun so I think I would like to have a job working with VR technology. But I don't know anything about jobs in the industry.
The VR industry is still small in Japan, but it's starting to gain its tracks. We really want to see it become more popular!
We love working in VR! It would be even better if we could literally work in VR. We also started in this industry without knowing anything, and we still don't know much so we think you should take the leap and go for it!
Did your anti-motion sickness technology make it to the PSVR? That’s very cool technology to design. I realized earlier this year that I no longer get sick in any games whereas I used to be very prone to motion sickness.
Yes, we are currently integrating our locomotive system into PSVR. We hope less players have to power through the sickness like you did with this design!
Do you have any preferred pizza toppings? If so, what kind?
Keigo: All the cheese!
Hi! I’m really looking forward to this. But I have to know.. will the best Witch Sucy be playable? I neeeed her!
No, but that's because we want you to meet and befriend her and her classmates instead.
In this game, you will create your own character and play as a trial student at Luna Nova Magical Academy. You won't be able to play as any of the existing characters, but you will get to race with them and develop a friendship with them as you progress through the story. So you can't be Sucy, but you might become BFF's with her :)
what will the game look like?
also i'm learning japanese, but only speak in katakana like this:
こんにちわ。 マイ ネム イズ マテイ ヨン。(hello. my name is matei yeung.)
キックスターター みてね！ (Please take a look at our kickstarter page!)
There seems to be a lot of VR zones being set up all around Tokyo.
Is there a difference in developing a game for these public VR Zones compared to VR gaming at home?
Will your game also be featured at VR Zones or will it only be for home VR?
Do you think public VR zones like the ones in Tokyo will be popular overseas or not as much?
There are two major differences: With VR Arcades, the games have to provide about 5 minutes of fun experiences, ie roller coasters. With VR for the home, the games must provide several hours of gameplay and also the desire to play again.
Another difference is whether you have an additional device.
Arcades can provide additional devices to enhance the player's experience (swings, fans, moving chairs, etc) . We created a new locomotive System to combat those additional devices so people can enjoy the same level of experience even at home.
Currently we are only making for home VR, but pushing for the game to be released at VR Arcades is part of Naoya's job.
And to answer your last question, yes! VOID was great and we think there are more arcades like that.
Are the original English dub cast going to be dubbing the game and is there a story mode?
Yes there is a story mode!
We currently have Megumi Han (the Japanese voice actress for Akko) along with the rest of the LWA Japanese cast to voice for the game, so it would be great if we could arrange something with the English dub cast if our budget allows it in the future.
What were some of the challenges or hurdles you encountered in creating your locomotion system? What types of locomotion or player movement would you like to see become standard across more VR experiences?
Keigo&Shun: Challenge wise, general VR guidelines didn't offer any solution to the motion sickness issue. I realized that the general guidelines were just incomplete, and that with the proper adjustements and tweaks, we were able to create a system where users could move around freely without getting sick. It definitely was not easy and there were hours and hours of trial and error.
Currently there are a lot of locomotive systems, but we feel that there should be an all-in-one perfect standard for basic movements such as walking, running, and sitting. We at UNIVRS would LOVE to set that standard!
Is there any chance that fans without a VR headset can still play the game? Or can we get another non VR LWA game in the future?
They cannot. We are very sorry （*>人<）
We must focus on the VR portion to provide the best experience, so we hope you can acquire a VR headset soon!
Are you using a game engine like unity/unreal or building from scratch? And why
We are using Unity. With VR, trial and error is very important so we decided to utilize a game engine that already offered VR support so we could quickly see results. However, we would like to make our own engine in the future to best suit our needs.
Which current VR game is the most advanced that you’ve seen and is available to the public?
Keigo: It's hard to answer that question, but I think the most fun is SuperHot
And the most emotionally moving game has been Déraciné.
I am late to this. I will also try to use what I hope is language that can be translated easily.
First, thank you very much for doing this. It means a great deal to me that you would take the time to talk with us, especially because there is a meaningful time difference for your group and many Reddit users, as well as a potential language barrier. That you would put in such effort to communicate with us is very meaningful.
I want to say I am very excited for a Little Witch Academia game. This could be very rewarding and interesting, so I am very hopeful about this project.
I have never been a strong supporter of VR, for several reasons. An important reason is that VR frequently requires additional hardware (headgear, possibly gloves, I am not entirely sure of all the options). I am curious: What will be required to play the game?
Little Witch Academia is an especially interesting choice to make a video game for. Why did you select it? Why broom riding? Had you considered other aspects of the series to adapt?
Again, thank you so much for this. I look forward to your release.
We're very happy to see so many redditors reaching out to us so it's completely worth it!
Besides one of our supported VR headsets (PSVR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, Steam VR supported VR HMD), LWA: Broom Racing won't require any additional hardware.
As to why we selected LWA, we immediately thought of them as soon as we came up with the broom to fly in so it's a dream come true :)
what is your expectation on the game?
We want as many players to enjoy flying with their favorite witches!
Will you let other developers use your locomotion system?
We would definitely like to do that, and would be happy to discuss that with other VR developers.
How did you get started working with VR? I want to work with VR as my career also.
No matter how small, it's good to just make something and have someone (friends, family, reddit, etc) look at it! That's how we started, and we just went crazy from there.
What games/experiences do you want to create in the future? What do you guys expect for the future of VR?
We want to create an all-in-one basic movement system (walking, running, and sitting) that would set the standard for locomotion in VR, and collab with more anime/manga works to continue making exciting VR games! We believe that the greatest possibilities of VR lie in the fact that it gives you freedom, so we would like to see a fully developed alternate universe in the future so players can fully immerse their selves and enjoy that freedom.
Could you share any cool doujin VR games/toys/experiments you really like from the Japanese community that us English-speakers probably don't know about?
I was lucky enough to experience the demo at AX and was really impressed. I was wondering how similar the game will be graphically in its final form?
Thank you so much for trying out our demo!
We are planning to release this on PSVR, SteamVR, Oculus Rift, and Quest. The quality of graphics depends on the specs, but it will definitely be better than the prototype.
Are there any areas of the Little Witch Academia locales that you enjoyed seeing in the anime that you'd specially like to explore in the game? Like the Arcturus Forest being the most obvious one, or perhaps the wintery forest around Lotte's hometown?
What are some of the biggest inspirations for you in game development in general, and for this game?
Keigo: "Someone's" dream, maybe?
Naoya: First, I would love to fly around Luna Nova! There are several beautiful locations I want to mention but that would spoil the surprise so I will leave it at that!
We are both living and breathing VR constantly, so we are easily inspired by oridinary things like just walking around town and wondering how to climb a certain building. We also watch Anime or movies and immediately try to think of how to enjoy it in VR. For this game, we watched LWA over and over again to really come up with the most appropriate and enjoyable experience for our players.
Idk if you can tell us this, but will it be released to coincide with a new season?
We aren't part of the animation team so we can't say... but maybe it'll encourage Trigger to make a season 2 if a certain VR title proves to be successful? (o´艸`)ﾑﾌﾌ
we also want season 2 Trigger pls
What would you say are some the key principles of VR that make it great? How does one achieve immersion and prescience within a VR experience? Have you played around with 360 video vs 3D art?
Also Japan is amazing, I visited last summer and would easily live there if I knew Japanese.
Keigo: Unlike traditional games, VR allows you to literally be in the game, and you get to break the law of physics. I believe that not breaking the illusion that you are in that world is a huge key to making VR great.
We occasionally experiment with 360 videos and it's fun. We also have a super talented VR artist to draw us concepts in Tilt Brush!
I am interested in how you solved the motion sickness problem. Can you elaborate on that please? Also, in your video, you claim no one in 500 tests experienced motion sickness. Curious about your control tests and how you determined that. Was it through subjective questionnaires or data capture using sensors?
We had all of our players fill out a survey asking about their experiences while playing our game. We have also started creating a system that analyzes player motion data to further improve our locomotive system.
I'm a big fan of the LWA series, so I'm really excited! However, I'm pretty new to VR games. What equipment would you recommend for playing on PC?
Also which are your favorite LWA characters?
If you're playing on PC, maybe the Oculus Rift S.
Keigo: Sucy. I'm a sucker for dead pan eyes, and her voice is my favorite. I can't wait to fly with her all day!
Naoya: Constanze because she won me over with her last line in the final episode.
How many hours do your employees work a week?
At UNIVRS, we prioritize the health and well being of our employees before anything else. Therefore, they are free to choose to either work remotely or on site whenever they please. As long as they can meet their goals, we don't focus too much on working hours.
Will there be a story or plot to go with the racing, or will it be more like a Mario Kart kind of thing?
Also, can Akko actually fly now?
There will be a light story for each stage that fits within the TV series timeline, and yes Akko can fly! (the game takes place in a special situation including the flying magic with two witches.）
Tap water or bottled? Where's your favorite for tap water?
Keigo: I actually prefer Yemon green tea Naoya: I like tap water filtered through my Brita water filter.
I'm currently in Tokyo, and am interested in picking up a VR headset for the PC, but I do not have enough money for a Vive system. What do you guys recommend me to buy, to be able to both play your game and others, and from where to buy, in Tokyo?
Naoya: I think it depends on what you already have. Quest would be the cheapest since there is no PC required. If you have the PC for it, perhaps Rift S? You will probably see better deals if you shop online than to find a shop in Tokyo.
How many people are involved in the making of this VR Game?
Hmmm it's hard to give an exact number, but internally we have 15 team members. We also have more outside of our company, and if you include our supporters, it's a lot!
I am an animation student currently taking a VR class. I specifically want to go into animation storyboarding. When planning your game, how do you lay out the events, staging, and storyline of your levels and characters? Do you have a game design document, prototype levels, storyboards, or something else? It seems like each VR company does things a little differently, so I'd love to know your technique!
Also, any plans to have more demos of LWA:VR in the US? I saw your booth at AX, but didn't get there early enough to try the demo. ;-;
Naoya: こんにちは！ I think our way of planning games isn't so different compared to most general games. Our director drew out the storyboards, our planner created the game flow, and we have our own staff for level designing, concept art, 3d modeling, and etc.
I'm sorry you couldn't get to us in time at AX! If you're in LA, please visit us in Little Tokyo tomorrow since we have a demo booth there! We will also be at Crunchyroll Expo from 8/30-9/1!
Hi Keigo-san and Naoya-san,
I really appreciate you taking the risk to start your own company to do what you love! I'm also a VR developer, and I would love if we could communicate. Please DM me if interested!
Anyways, what is your favourite anime song or soundtrack? I like "Chariot's Theme" from Little Witch a lot!
Are there any plans to incorporate open world game stuff such as different things you can do besides just flying/racing? Will magic besides flying magic have any role to play in the game?
While racing, you will be able to use magic to your advantage. We are currently testing other game modes where you will be able to utilize magic.