Another Fisherman's Tale ©2023 InnerSpace France VR. Published by Vertigo Games. Developed by InnerSpace France VR.

Another Fisherman's Tale pushes boundaries as the sequel to 2019's award-winning VR puzzler

23 de febrero de 2023

Since its foundation in 2014, InnerspaceVR established itself as one of the major creative studios in the VR industry, particularly for its sense of innovation and artistry. INNERSPACEVR has produced several immersive experiences such as Firebird - La Péri and The Unfinished, which have won multiple awards. A Fisherman's Tale is a critically acclaimed virtual reality narrative puzzle game and won best game of the year award. It was released January 2019 on PC and PS VR and November 2019 on Oculus Quest.
InnerspaceVR shocked and surprised the world with the release of A Fisherman's Tale in 2019. The virtual reality puzzle adventure saw players take on the role of Bob the Fisherman’s puppet, who interacts with worlds within worlds represented by identical dioramas of rooms in a lighthouse. By moving items between the smaller and larger environments, you can solve puzzles to reach the top of the lighthouse. This unique concept and heartfelt story saw A Fisherman’s Tale win numerous awards, including “VR Game of The Year” at the 2019 VR Awards and “Best Story/Storytelling” at Game Connection America 2019.

Now the studio is revisiting its puppet protagonist in an all-new adventure. Another Fisherman’s Tale brings puppet Bob back for a new adventure, as he moves beyond the lighthouse to new, unique worlds. Players can also disassemble and reassemble Bob to gain new abilities to solve puzzles.

We spoke to members of the InnerspaceVR team about revisiting the world of A Fisherman’s Tale, expanding on the “worlds within worlds” gameplay, and creating another meaningful tale for our protagonist.
 

Another Fisherman’s Tale is the sequel to your award-winning VR puzzle game, A Fisherman’s Tale. What inspired the team to start development on the sequel?

Balthazar Auxietre, creative director at InnerspaceVR :
When Alexis had the idea of playing with your VR avatar in puzzles based on dismantling and rebuilding your own body parts, as if you were a puppet, we immediately thought it could be a great opportunity to come back to A Fisherman’s Tale. This time telling the story of Bob after he escaped his lighthouse at the end of [A Fisherman’s Tale] and how he rebuilt himself through that journey.

Alexis Moroz, game director of Another Fisherman’s Tale: InnerspaceVR has always been about creating meaningful experiences and allowing us to do mind-bending stuff only possible in VR, so like the first Fisherman’s Tale, the concept of this sequel has been designed around this principle.

Are there any ways in which the team built off its two previous releases, A Fisherman’s Tale and Maskmaker, to prepare for Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Balthazar:
We gained a lot of experience in developing our previous game, Maskmaker, which had a greater scope than A Fisherman's Tale. Making a six-hour narrative-driven game rather than a two-hour one, with a limited budget and during a pandemic, is tough. We learned a lot through working with such a bigger canvas, both on how the production was managed and how we designed the game.

We tried to apply all the lessons learned to this sequel to A Fisherman’s Tale. But we still wanted to innovate and take risks because pushing the boundaries of what is possible to do in VR is really exciting to us. We knew from the start we were stepping into a technical hurdle with this concept; nevertheless, we wanted to take the challenge and try to reinvent ourselves, like our character in a way!
The core of A Fisherman’s Tale was the “worlds within worlds” concept, which led to unique puzzles. Can you talk about how the team is expanding upon that with Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Alexis:
The common thread between the two games are these model fantasy worlds you inhabit as Bob the puppet, playing with a sense of scale, and around what’s real and what’s not. The main theme of the first Fisherman’s Tale, storywise, was “escaping.” Specifically, the inner journey Bob had to make to get rid of the chains of fear, obsession, or tradition to finally break free from his own mind. 

That’s how the story came in sync with the “world within worlds” concept. In this follow up to Bob’s story, the theme we developed in resonance with our new gameplay is “changing.” Now that Bob has left his lighthouse and is searching for freedom, he will have to evolve, bend over backwards, and change… figuratively as well as literally, to become the person he really needs to be.

The previous game took place around the model of a lighthouse. Can you talk about the locations available in this new adventure?

Balthazar:
Another Fisherman’s Tale offers much more variety in terms of settings. It’s a real adventure! Each chapter was carefully designed to carry a strong identity, and support both the evolution of the gameplay and the story of Bob going on his journey. We really think players will be surprised at each step of the game.

Alexis: Absolutely. Now that Bob is finally out of his lighthouse, he has a big itch for travel! Though we definitely wanted to retain the cozy and intimate feel of the first game. So each of the new environments is actually based on a new model that the player will get to rebuild as Bob tells his new tall tale. All in all, Bob will go far and wide in his quest for the mysterious island of Libertalia… and even star in a little musical of his own at some point!

Puppet Bob returns in Another Fisherman’s Tale as your primary method of exploring the world, but now he can be taken apart and reconfigured into new forms. Can you talk about how you landed on this new style of gameplay?

Alexis:
I generally follow a very “bottom up” approach to design, so my main focus was to surprise and bend the mind of players eager to experience new things with original gameplay. It was also very important for this gameplay to be rich enough to offer many different kinds of puzzles… and a significantly longer playtime than the first game.

So you can mix and match body parts to solve puzzles, throw your hands and head away, while still moving your body around to cooperate with yourself, the same way you could with giant-you and mini-you in the first Fisherman’s Tale. And, in some situations, even become the level itself to progress. It’s all about playing with toys after all!
You could extend your hands in the first game, but now you can puppeteer them, similar to Thing from The Addams Family. What features did the team add to make controlling your detached hands fun and intuitive?

Alexis:
We explored a lot of features allowed by the remote hand feature, focusing on the one that made for cool puzzles or interesting situations. We developed an assistance for the hand movements—to preserve players’ wrists!—and an auto-aim system for grabbing remote objects or climbing. We also dealt with the problem of complex collisions with hands that can go anywhere. And, of course, we couldn’t use tomato presence with this gameplay (i.e. your hands disappearing when you are grabbing an object). So the connection of the hand with every object had to be as easy and good-looking as possible.

Players can also hold or throw their head. How does this give players a new perspective on the environment and add to the game’s puzzles?

Alexis:
Having your head detached from your body is a really weird and fun feeling we wanted to explore in this game, which is really only possible in VR. Not everyone can pop off their head safely at home and enjoy the many advantages it provides! Looking behind a tall wall, having a bird's eye view of a situation or taking a peek in a small contrived space, it’s a useful tool. Moreover Bob happened to hide a very special key in his puppet neck that can unlock all sorts of secret passages...

Puppet Bob can also replace his hands with new parts to solve puzzles. What inspired this concept?

Alexis:
Since the HTC Vive, VR has been as much about being transported into virtual worlds as it has been about grabbing them with your own two hands. The hands are the only constant and could almost be seen as your real avatar in these worlds. So, of course, giving them various looks and properties in different environments is a great way to make the players feel like being themselves, yet different.
The previous game was actually telling two stories, one involving Puppet Bob and the other focused on the real Bob the Fisherman. How does the team expand on that concept in this new entry?

Balthazar:
The concept of family generations and transmission was already present in the first [Fisherman’s Tale] and Maskmaker as well. How you can emancipate from your past and your closed ones to “live your own life.” With Another Fisherman’s Tale, we wanted to continue to explore those same themes, but offer a more complex and deeper story, thanks also to the length of the game. It’s still a tale like the first game but it has much more to say!

Alexis: Indeed, this sequel introduces the character of Nina, Bob’s daughter. We get to know about Nina as a child, while she was listening to her father's incredible stories… and as a tired 40-year-old woman, who now walks among the dust and ghosts of these old tales and models in the basement of her aging mother she’s taking care of.

Is there a core storytelling theme for this new adventure?

Alexis:
If the first game was about trying to find your way back to reality, by climbing out a recursion of self-reassuring stories, the second one is about change and the power that a tale holds to make those changes happen. And as Nina will discover, it’s also about the stories’ ability to cover and beautify some ugly or boring truths…

What has been the biggest challenge in developing Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Balthazar:
Obviously, the core gameplay of detaching your hands to drive them remotely, and sending your head away to use your body on third-person view. We had to develop a very innovative control scheme and to go beyond what already existed in VR in terms of motion, while being sure that players could experience the maximum level of comfort. We tweaked the controls until the very end of development, and did hundreds of playtests to experiment with different solutions. Of course, we’ve crashed on numerous dead ends before getting these features as casual and VR-friendly as possible!
Did you have any major goals coming into the game’s development?

Alexis:
Making every game puzzle and new situation surprising, cohesive with the core gameplay, as well as integral to the storyline. That proved to be quite the balancing act, requiring insights from every member of the team, both at Innerspace and Vertigo Games, our publisher!

How has InnerspaceVR's approach to VR changed since your first game release in 2015?

Balthazar:
The spirit didn’t change much. Our goal has always been to experiment with the medium and push things forward, and as the technology evolves, we always have new and exciting challenges to overcome and new possibilities keeping us on our toes. What really changed these past few years is the way we approach the storytelling of an interactive project: how to make the players strongly identify with a character they embody, how to raise emotion through adventure and puzzle gameplay, how to make several narrative arcs evolve without breaking the engagement of the player in the gameplay… Things we will continue to explore and deepen for our next projects.

The first game featured a very whimsical art style. How do you hope to iterate visually with Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Balthazar:
The game plays with two visual approaches. The world of Nina, the fisherman’s daughter, is a pretty realistic basement of a suburban house, while the world of Bob is a total fantasy that players discover while traveling through his models; it’s completely in line with the fantasy world of the model we had in the first Fisherman. This creates an interesting dialogue between both visual approaches and supports the story of a daughter discovering her father’s real past hidden behind his tall tales.

Why did Unreal Engine make sense for Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Balthazar:
We’ve used Unreal Engine since 2015 and never thought about moving to another framework since. We don’t have the resources to build low-level tools, so everything offered by Unreal as part of the engine makes an incredibly powerful and solid development tool for us. By saving a lot of resources and making incredible ready-to-use tools, we can maximize the production value of our titles. And then we can just focus on going the extra-mile with a few custom add-ons made specifically for the narrative-driven games we are developing.
Were there any Unreal Engine tools that were particularly helpful in developing Another Fisherman’s Tale?

Balthazar:
Each and every tool within Unreal Engine is helpful! Even if they are not really used in the final game, we loved to play with some recent features provided by Epic, like Metahuman. But what feels the most useful for us is its capacity to be really flexible: we work with a variety of VR systems and the game will ship on many platforms. All have their specific technical requirements. Unreal does the heavy lifting for us there and it is really essential, otherwise we couldn’t focus on making the best game possible.

What VR platforms will Another Fisherman’s Tale be on?

Balthazar:
Meta Quest 2 and PlayStation®VR2 are the two major platforms. The game will also be available on the Rift, Steam, and Viveport for PC players.

Thank you for your time! Where can people learn more about Another Fisherman’s Tale?
For more information about the game visit the official site and follow Vertigo Games on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

You can also wishlist the game directly on:

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