CatsAndVR interviews Konrad Kunze, the creator of Konrad The Kitten.
FusionPlay just released its creative pet raising sim “Konrad the Kitten” for PlayStation VR, Oculus and Steam. Konrad the Kitten puts players in a colorful world and makes them care about a cute little virtual kitten. The game features a unique “Plushy-Mode” that brings a plush toy into the virtual world by attaching a VR controller on its back.
CatsAndVR recently had the chance to interview Konrad Kunze, the creative mind behind Konrad the Kitten.
Q1- There is Konrad the Developer and Konrad the Kitten, how similar are the two?
- I didn't like the game to have my name but because of several reasons it finally went that way. Finally I was convinced to stick with the name "Konrad the Kitten" because it's just a catchy name. We wanted the cat to have an identity. (The internal prototype name was just "virtu-real cat". This is surely not a catchy name ;) )
Q2- Why did you decided to create a Cat VR game?
- The very first prototype was a present for my girlfriend. She loves cats and that was my way to show my love to her. But then the basic concept worked that well that I decided to create a full game based on the idea. FusionPlay then gave me the chance to realize that.
Q3- Is this the teams first game?
- Yes and No.
- I have been creating games since my childhood. Board games, card games, computer games, all kinds of stuff. But none of them ever has developed been beyond the prototype stage.
- in 2012 FusionPlay gave me the chance to make one of these prototypes a full game. "FusionPlay Heroes" as it is called, is my first game but it is something totally different. It is a physical card game with NFC radio chips in every playing card. Creating a physical game that will be released in stores is much more work than we expected. That is why our first game (FusionPlay Heroes) is already done with development but has not yet released. This will happen in a few weeks.
- Konrad the Kitten is the second full game I worked on. After the main game design work on FusionPlay Heroes was done, I had the time to focus on something additional what then became Konrad the Kitten.
Q4- What is the teams background and how large?
- We have a very uncommon structure. The company behind FusionPlay is called "IT Sonix custom development GmbH" and employs more than 100 people. IT Sonix focuses on Software projects of different kinds and has experts for design, app development, backend development, etc.
- So the core team of Konrad the Kitten is more or less just me being responsible for the game. But whenever I need additional help, I can easily request that internally. For example for creating the Title image or the icons, our design department was used. And when I need testers, I just send out a mail "Who wants to play PlayStation - counts as working time" ;) (Although testing is not nearly as fun as playing a game...)
Q5- When did your interest in VR begin and when did you decide to make a VR game?
- I started with the preorder of the DK2. The day the preorder became available, I preordered one. With the DK 2 I experimented a lot with the possibilities and limitations of VR. When the HTC Vive was announced, I immediately preordered that one because of the room-scale feature.
- Shortly after I received the Vive I experimented with tracking real-world objects by using the Vive Controller. This was the time that I decided to make a small game for my girlfriend - the very first prototype.
Q6- What cat research did the team do for the game?
- Mostly talking with people that own a cat.
- We needed to discuss and gauge very often, how realistic we wanted the cat to be. Unfortunately some really cool features, like the ears of the kitten symbolizing its mood, could not be realized with the resources we have. It's these tiny things that costs a lot of time and you always need to decide whether to do this or to do another feature that people maybe like more.
Q7- How many cats are owned by the members of the team?
- As the team is a loose team, that's hard to count.
- Lot's of the testers that regularly help us have cats. My boss has multiple cats as well.
- Finally my girlfriend - a big help in discussing features - has 2 cats at work.
Q8- What has been the most difficult thing in developing Konrad the Kitten?
- The full-3d-UI was really hard although it might not look like that. Especially messing around with transparency issues, things being rendered in front of others although they are behind them.
- Also the calibration of the kitten was tricky. Although the algorithms inside are not that hard for a programmer, designing the calibration process for the player was hard. The biggest issue was to clearly guide the player through the process and explain the differences between real floor and virtual floor and why this needs to be calibrated. It took us endless iterations until we had what we finally release.
Q9- From early access to full release, what lessons has the team learned?
- 1. Do not release too early in Early Access. I think we should have waited some more months.
- 2. Assure that your game is understandable right from the start. We've waited much too long with integrating the tutorial. That was a bad decision as some people just did not understand how to play the game. (Especially when you do uncommon stuff like requesting the player to attach the controller on a plush toy.)
- 3. If you do a VR game, design it for VR from scratch! Don't do a "Something like existing game xy, just in VR.". Instead create new ideas that only work in VR.
Q10- What is the future of Konrad the kitten and Konrad the dev.
- We are already preparing a small content update that will bring some easter stuff into the game. Besides this it will address some minor things that did not made it into the release version.
- Then there will be the Release of FusionPlay Heroes, our NFC card game.
- After that we will sit together and discuss between different options:
- Starting with a new VR game (we already have 2 great concept ideas)
- or creating a DLC for Konrad the Kitten (new areas, objects, minigames and a new core feature)
- creating new Hero Packs for FusionPlay Heroes
- We already have very detailed ideas for these things but need to decide what to do first.
Konrad the Kitten is out now on PlayStation VR, Oculus and Steam.
Twitter: @FusionPlayGames #KonradTheKitten