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The power of the minutia in virtual reality, treating players like developers, and "spying" on them

CM Games’ Serg Kharchenko speaks spying on players and treating them as " a part of the development team"
The power of the minutia in virtual reality, treating players like developers, and
  • PGC London is now underway!
  • CM Games’ Serg Kharchenko discussed the importance of players in influencing game development

CM Games’ Serg Kharchenko spoke at PGC London about the value of minutia in virtual reality games, the and the importance of observing players’ online activity - to "spy" on them, even. "Treat your audience as a part of the development team!" he encouraged, demonstrating with clips from players on social media.

Where players have posted content around CM Games’ VR title Into the Radius, one particularly viral TikTok video helped push the company to its quarterly goal in a two-week period in 2023. Naturally, this shows the value user-generated content can have on a game’s audience, but Kharchenko revealed many other ways Into the Radius is building a symbiotic relationship with its playerbase.

Playtesting with players?

Estonia-based CM Games has developed games across mobile, Web3 and VR with more than a decade’s experience in the industry, and with that level of expertise, has dared to focus on developing the little things to build an immersive in-game experience. Hence, horror shooter Into the Radius now features an in-game playable guitar that one player has spent 23 hours mastering - the most of any individual in-game. Overall, 59% of new users have tried out this feature.

There are tins of sliced pineapple too, which can be opened up and eaten in VR, with a hunger system adding an extra level of realism. Of course, players can still go out shooting monsters too.

"I believe that in VR, all these small things that make the atmosphere come alive work well," said Kharchenko.
He also noted how CM Games has watched online footage that players have uploaded to further refine the game, tweaking it based on the unexpected game-breaking activity players utilise. For example, many players were purposely dying in-game at certain points to drop newly acquired weapons in easier-to-find locations after respawn; the dev was then able to address this.

Lastly, Kharchenko recommended reading reviews as a form of player feedback, and encouraging players to make user-generated content. Among Into the Radius players, for example, the "spawn" creatures became incredibly popular and fans "gave them a name: Pecho"; based on this, CM Games made more content based around the Pecho, emojis and more, essentially turning this once-unnamed creature into the game’s mascot, much to the favour of the fans.

There’s a lot more still to discover from PGC London 2024, with talks and conversations ongoing through January 22 and 23. Find out more about what's on and how you can be part of it here.