Rascals is a game unlike any you have played before. It is a classical board game in VR, but it is also a first person action game with guns, exploding bananas and plenty of chaos. The game world is lovingly crafted in marble and granite, as well as various gorgeous types of wood, ranging from juniper to cherry. Our little Rascals themselves are cute if somewhat creepy, the perfect victims of your acts of violence. To keep players distracted while others are taking their turn, there is a nice selection of toys scattered around the table.
The game is played on a board made out of 10×10×10 cm (4×4×4 in) stone blocks, and revolves around action points scored on dice. AP may be spent on moving your pieces across the board, drawing cards or sabotaging other players’ progress. The latter is accomplished by clicking on one of your own pieces, at which point you control it in first person. The world is now seen at 20× magnification so that the square your piece is on matches up with your 2×2m play space, and you can shoot, bash and explode your opponents to oblivion. This can either keep them stun locked, denying them the use of that piece, or outright kill them, returning the piece to Start. You can choose from several different game modes, such as a straight race to Goal, king of the hill or last man standing.
There is a wide variety of cards to help you win the game, each of which represents an object that gets spawned into the game world where you choose to play the card. These range from the mundane, like pebbles that can be thrown to stun opposing players, to the very powerful, like an explosive charge that causes lots of chaos when the timer reaches zero. We have included a bow and arrow, an insidious weapon that gives your enemy a long term disadvantage if he can’t afford to remove the arrow. There are defensive cards as well, like body armor, helmets, and med kits that can revive a stunned piece. You will also find an explosive banana, our tribute to gorillas.bas, and then of course there’s the handgun, because which first person VR action game would be complete without one?
You manipulate the game in board view by using picking tools made from birch (at least for now), each with a cute little rotary drum display to indicate how many action points and how much time you have left before the end of your turn. When in first person, your hands are those of the Rascal you’re controlling, made from a particularly lovely piece of Yew. The Rascals themselves have egg shaped bodies turned from various types of wood, which can be stained a color of your choosing for ease of distinguishing players. The rest of the props are faithfully created true to their microscopic scale, to truly give you the feeling of being tiny when you’re in first person.
Exactly what will become of Rascals is early to tell, as the game is still in rapid conceptual development, but it is already becoming clear that this is something rather special. We set out to make a different kind of board game, and have discovered a new type of action game. The first person sequences are surprisingly intense despite the turn based approach, as you struggle to set up your shot before the time runs out, knowing that the outcome of the whole game can rest on how well you take it. This is coupled with demanding tactical decision making to create a truly unique Virtual Reality experience.
If you're interested in the nitty gritty details of making the game, or if you just want to know a bit more about it, feel free to rifle through the dev notes.