Hello everyone! We at Housemarque hope you’re all enjoying Returnal. We’re so amazed by and grateful for the responses up to now. I would like to thank you with respect to the complete team.
In Returnal our goal was to utilize the DualSense wireless controller to supply a physical connection with feeling, exploring and fighting Atropos. We wished to add texture and feedback both with regards to gameplay but additionally bring a fresh degree of immersion and atmosphere.
For the technical implementation and side, we’ve Harvey Scott, among our amazing sound designers from PlayStation Studios’ Creative Services Group in London adding to this post. Harvey was an integral sound designer for the haptic feedback in Returnal, and a whole lot of everything you feel in the overall game is Harvey’s amazing work. More from him in this article later.
During production, our teams were a few of the first in the global world to see and find out about PlayStation 5 at Housemarque. I recall clearly our XDEV Producer Pedro Sousa showed us some technical demos from teams in Japan, and he inspired us and drove us to help make the the majority of this technology. We were all struck by the DualSense controller prototype and the potential presented by haptics and adaptive triggers.
With the adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller, our Player Team at Housemarque performed plenty of tests and research into how exactly we might use this new functionality in Returnal. We knew we’d amazing weaponry on Atropos and utilizing the adaptive triggers because of this firepower was an all natural fit. Henri Markus, game designer, researched and spent a whole large amount of time with the adaptive triggers, and Henri and Harri Tikkanen eventually, co-founder of Housemarque, developed the alt-fire trigger functionality – pull half-way to target aim, have the satisfying click and completely right down to enter the alt-fire mode then.
when compared to a week after receiving the PS5 development kit and our very own prototype of the controller
Less, the feature was in the overall game. Initially, implementation didn’t click for all of us. However, once we tested, refined, and polished, it all together came.
We also began to envision our usage of haptic feedback with the DualSense controller for Immersion , Communication and Power. Harvey will now provide more of a deep dive into how exactly we wanted one to have the journey, the texture and actions as you fight through Atropos with Selene to “White Shadow.”
Next up, Housemarque Sound Designer, Harvey Scott, explains how Returnal’s soundscape ties alongside the DualSense controller to produce a truly immersive experience:
The DualSense controller’s haptic feedback is powered by technology that means it is much like that of a loudspeaker or headphones. Meaning that as an audio designer, I could take exactly the same principles and techniques useful for designing sound and apply them to creating interesting haptic feedback experiences.
Whenever we first began focusing on Returnal we knew we’d to realise the entire potential of the DualSense controller, whilst staying true to another design pillars of the overall game also, and most importantly, creating the perfect experience for the players exploring Atropos with Selene.
The immediate new potential the DualSense controller taken to the table may be the capability to fully convince and immerse players with haptic feedback detail that simply had not been possible before. We are able to now provide subtle details that cross the threshold for what the hands and brain believe to be real and truly bring the players consciousness in to the world on screen.
For example, the rain in Returnal is complemented by subtle raindrop haptic pulses, which are procedurally synthesised at runtime, which allowed us to refine and tweak the feel of these on the fly whilst playing in-game. The ultimate end result of this approach is that together with the visuals and audio, the haptic sensations made by the DualSense controller give your subconscious brain another indication that it truly is in the world of Atropos, standing in the torrential rain.
Another thing that we could actually do with an increase of immersion than previously are cinematics now. They are a significant backbone of the narrative experience and a memorable and dramatic section of any game often. Often, cinematics could be a passive experience in comparison to gameplay somewhat, but the capability to now provide haptic sensations to check and reinforce the visual-audio experience with more detail than previously, means that we are able to really go all out with regards to making sure the ball player is fully engaged and literally feels each moment of the cinematic action on screen via the DualSense controller.
Another important element of the haptic experience in Returnal is making certain the player really can feel their control over Selene’s movement during gameplay. For instance, Selene dashing in a specific direction shall weight the haptic feedback to the corresponding side of the controller, or the harder you land after jumping will dictate how hard you are feeling Selene’s feet hit the bottom and her suit absorbing the shock. Collecting Obolites produce individual granular taps as each is deposited into Selene’s suit, partly for the satisfaction of knowing you’re accumulating your Obolite balance piece by piece, but to provide the things a tangible physicality also, with an even of detail that’s only possible with the DualSense controller now.
Alongside immersion, communication via haptics is another key game design tool unlocked by the DualSense controller yet, allowing us to telegraph critical cues during combat in attention-grabbing and new ways.
For instance, weapons in Returnal have an alt-fire ability that will require recharging between shots. During combat, knowing when that alt-fire ability is ready and primed to go could possibly be the difference between life and death, so it’s essential that the ball player is made alert to its readiness status. Area of the equation on how best to communicate this, is via on-screen cues sufficient reason for audio feedback, however now that we can offer a unique haptic pulse via the DualSense controller, we are able to really grab a player’s attention in heat of combat and alert them to the thing which could save Selene’s life, permitting them to continue their run. With a unique haptic pulse for something similar to this, alongside visual and audio cues, we hoped that players would create a type or sort of Pavlovian reaction to hearing, seeing and today feeling the cue that their power weapon has just become available again.
A fascinating concept in Returnal that people wished to communicate to players are parasites, that may grant beneficial traits to a new player, but additionally ones which will damage you actively. We had a need to differentiate damage due to parasites to other sources in the overall game, the haptic sensation of the parasite’s tentacles gripping and tightening around your suit provided a fascinating way to help to make that differentiation, again communicating to the telegraphing and player critical information via the DualSense controller in new ways, than fully counting on traditional methods to achieve this rather.
When discussing what we wished to convey via the DualSense controller in Returnal, we tried to utilize the entire dynamic selection of the haptic feedback capabilities and in doing this reserved power for when it had been needed. As the DualSense controller is with the capacity of producing delicate raindrops, it’s often surprising that it’s also in a position to produce jolts of power.
We tried to preserve probably the most intense and heavy feeling haptic moments for the best threats in the overall game alongside probably the most powerful weapons and tools open to Selene. Employing this restraint, we are able to generate a middle-ground baseline for where most haptics will take a seat on the charged power spectrum, but when enough time involves deliver a feeling of weight and power we are able to really crank up the intensity and take the ball player by surprise.
For instance, Returnal’s alt-fire ability referred to as Killsight produces an immensely powerful single shot projectile that devastates enemies since it travels through them at high velocity. To mention that known degree of focused power, we maximise the intensity of this haptic pulse so that it sticks out from all the haptic feedback, giving the hands a genuine sense of kickback and selling the charged power behind that ability’s prospect of damage.
So, though it could be tempting to provide every part of the overall game haptic feedback that turns the DualSense controller’s switch on to 11, by reserving it limited to the proper moment we are able to help make sure that Returnal offers a huge selection of different tactile sensations from individual raindrops, to the feeling of releasing arcing bolts of electricity that shatter Selene’s foes with immense power.
Cheers, Harvey. So here’s our origins with the DualSense controller, our philosophy and how exactly we brought it alive in Returnal. It had been a large team effort to pull this off. Enjoy Returnal if you haven’t already, too. Thanks for reading and all stay well!
By PlayStation Official blog (blog.playstation.com)