Our Mars Odyssey adventure first began when we saw news of HTC investing $5 million into an indie development team by the name of Steel Wool Studios. After doing some research, we discovered that the studio was founded by 5 seasoned animators coming from the likes of Pixar, Zombiesmith games and Lucas Films. With such an impressive background and their newfound support from tech and VR giant HTC, we immediately reached out to them to see what kind of games these people were making.
QUAR: Battle For Gate 18
Steel Wool took their very first steps into the the world of virtual reality with their action strategy game QUAR, which features adorable alien anteaters who are in the midst of a 700 year long war in the grimsical world of Alwyd. It’s inspiration came from a pre-existing tabletop game called This Quar’s War which speaks to Steel Wool’s background within the medium. The tactical VR game was well-received, with many players citing that they enjoyed how QUAR plays like an interactive tabletop war game. It’s one of the few turn-based strategy games that you can find within the VR space and it’s so good that it became an HTC Vive launch title. But this was only the beginning for Steel Wool.
Mars Odyssey: A VR Simulator Experience
Amidst their work on QUAR, Steel Wool was quietly working on a VR experience that they would go on to release 5 months later, called Mars Odyssey. Mars Odyssey is a VR experience that takes you on an immersive and educational journey to the confines of outer space. You begin aboard a ship where you’ll be tasked with various missions that all take place on the surface of the illustrious red planet. Your responsibilities are rather simple, and involve doing small repairs and maintenance on various NASA landers and rovers. As you embark on these missions, you can engage with different pieces of equipment to learn a bit about the history behind it.
Aboard your ship, you can also explore a holo-room. Here is where you can find a visual representation of our solar system along with a more detailed look at the planets Earth and Mars. Although Mars Odyssey is a short 20 minute experience, it’s gratifying for those who enjoy learning in a more interactive setting.
Inspirations and Motivations
Mars Odyssey is an exceptionally curious deviation from their first venture into the world of virtual reality and this contrast will be following them into their next project which Steel Wool revealed to us, can be expected to launch soon. To find out more about Steel Wool Studios inspirations and motivations, check out our interview with them below.
For more developer interviews on Indie Obscura, check out our developer talks with Transport Fever’s Stephan Schweizer, watch our interview about Blue Byte’s Champions of Anteria, and hear what Vile Monarch’s developers have to say about their game Crush Your Enemies.