Virtual reality gaming has not been a common or popular genre until the last 10 years when VR headsets became available to the average gamer through PlayStation VR and Facebook's creation of the Occulus.
Video game developer J. Roscowe of SuperSane Games loves this niche market and its newfound affordability and accessibility to new gamers and veteran VR gamers alike.
"If it wasn't for the Facebook VR headsets and the PlayStation VR headsets, it would still be a super niche market," Roscowe told Black eSports Network. "People always thought it was gonna be a niche thing. I've kind of been waiting for this time since I was like, a little kid. It's an exciting time, and it's a brand new medium."
And so, his time has come, with an in-game anime.
Bakemono: Demon Brigade Tenmen Unit 01, SuperSane Games upcoming VR game, is a lore-heavy science fiction anime video game that takes place well into the future where Earth is a royal feudal system, Mars is colonized and united into a single federation, and a group of pilots (along with our video game's protagonist) are empaths who are weaponized into soldiers using the grief and anger of citizens to fuel them.
The "in-game anime" phrase is essential to the telling of the story. You are playing a video game, still having missions and maneuvers as you would any other VR game, but there's a viewing aspect to the game.
The backstory, the worldbuilding, the animated cut scenes, and the voiceovers you hear all help the story go along in an anime-style, television-watching view. Like all animes, this video game has societal commentary touching on topics like the military-industrial complex, the treatment of military veterans, and meritocratic commercial systems.
"From a VR point of view, I'm doing a lot of stuff that people don't feel comfortable doing," he said. "I know there's a niche market of people who have played all these VR games, and their tolerance for them is way higher than the newcomer...so I just wanted to make something [for them].
"Everybody's like, 'You're trying to make a fighting game in VR?' and I'm like, 'Yeah.'"
J. Roscowe explained, "People thought it was gonna be a niche thing until we got: A) To the point where you could have a real experience; and B) the field of vision--how much extra peripheral vision you have.
"The thing about VR that's awesome is the control scheme allows you to do a lot of things we could not do before. Like, being able to shoot in two different directions and fly in any direction at the same time.
"It's fun for me to be on the top of a building, cut the jets off, and fall all the way to the ground... That's all I wanted to do when I was a kid. And I was like, 'One day, I'm gonna make a game where you can do just that,' and that's what [Bakemono] is."
A veteran VR gamer himself, the immersive experience that VR gives the gamer excites J. Roscowe because the player has to do all the actions and movements themselves.
"When you play third-person games, you press a button, and they do the animation for you. In VR, [the players] have to do it, which is awesome and hilarious."
Roscowe has seen people drop their guns in first-person shooter VR games; he's watched people run out of breath while making running motions in Fortnite-like VR games.
He doesn't just make VR games, he plays them too, owning multiples VR headsets, including two Facebook Occulus headsets, the original Quest, and an Index headset.
"You have to have them all--that's the one thing that sucks right now," he said. "There's no cross-platform hardware...for anything."
All the games Roscowe wants to do, even if they're not animes like Bakemono: Demon Brigade Tenmen Unit 01, will still be animated.
"I know every game I'm gonna make," he said. "I have them all planned out."
He's "lived a colorful life," and these experiences have allowed him to create characters and stories for his games and encourage other game developers to do the same.
"Take whatever happens and put it in the story. Don't be discouraged...and do what you want to do."