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“Ship It” is fast-paced VR block packing fun. Grab blocks out of the cargo containment field and smash them into place in their boxes. Pack well, keep up with the production line, and earn your wage in a farcical factory setting. Your manager is watching your performance and if you can’t perform he just might replace you with the robot Employee of the Month, K3-VN.
Spatial perception is amazing in VR, and when combined with the hand tracked controllers of the HTC Vive, figuring out how to rapidly fit blocks into tight spaces is both mentally and physically exciting! The game mechanics are so natural that it is simple enough for non-gamer VR novices, and mentally challenging enough for any hardcore gamer.
In “Ship It” you are an employee at Bloq-O industries trying to rise in the ranks by completing increasingly bigger and more important orders for the company. To accomplish this you must earn money through different order types and challenges, saving money and upgrading the factory to increase your income.
The orders types vary:
- Training – Your manager instructs you on the basics of working at Bloq-O Industries.
- Deadline – Pack as much as you can before time runs out (great for demos and competitions).
- Endurance – Reach the order quota without wasting too many blocks off the production line.
- Special Order (coming soon) – Daily challenge where you must perfectly pack a set of strange shapes.
- Break Time (coming soon) – Leave the pressure of the factory floor and get creative.
- Released Early Access October 14, 2016. Targeting full release late 2017.
- Price: $14.99 at http://store.steampowered.com/app/511700
- Platform: Windows PC with HTC Vive or Oculus Rift + Touch
- Key features: See product description
- Major planned features: Competitive and Cooperative multiplayer support.
Think On Labs is a new Indie game development studio out of Portland, OR. It was officially founded in 2015 to work on VR and mobile game development. We first created “Lair Life” for the Oculus VR Game Jam in 2013 and have been developing projects ever since. “Elodie’s Power Plie” and “Apollo’s Journey” were the result of a couple more game jams, and we worked for almost two years on a real-time cooperative game for mobile. When the VR headsets started launching in April, we had to shelve that mobile project to work on our real passion!
Ian McClellan developed the idea for Ship It and built a team to bring it to fruition. The plan was to reimagine a classic game type to take advantage of the unique capabilities of VR. Ship It is classic block stacking at its core, but in a new way that could not be done on any other platform. After generating the initial concept in April 2016, Ian worked with his friend Robert Toepfer to get a proof of concept done.
(Early Unity Test Room Screenshots)
We tried to develop a very physical aesthetic and control system at this point and brought in Elliot Morris to help create key assets and start defining the art style.
(Early sketch of box and dispenser)
Getting the right feel for block handling was crucial, and it didn’t come easy. When things get packed too close, Unity’s physics system would give up and things start vibrating and flying all over the place. There was fun hidden in there, but it was going to take major work to pull it out of bug city!
Through the summer of 2016, Ian polished the game feel while on sabbatical from his day job at Intel. We started snapping the blocks into the boxes to minimize any frustrating physics issues players might have. Tilon DuBoise came on to help decorate the room, and Bryan Minus started composing our awesomely-addictive soundtrack…two things that began to bring the space to life.
Playtesting was super critical to uncovering what was working in the game and what needed refinement. It felt too physically tiring to pull blocks off the conveyor belt to the player’s left, then turn 90 degrees to put them in a box. Whether it is the weight of the headset or just the way our bodies like to move, it did not feel right. There was also no benefit to using the second box dispenser, an item designed to enable a wider variety of player choices, but was ending up just getting in the way. A big design change was required, and the whole room was reworked to use floating block fields in front of the player. It was not ‘natural’ but it drastically improved the game feel. The result captured the fun, frantic, pressure filled game that we were looking for all along!
The next step was to flesh out the story, adding the powerful voice of John Mondelli as the manager, and some hilarious safety posters designed by Mickey Godfrey. We then launched early access October 14th, 2016.
Since launching on early access Ship It has gone through many iterations the biggest of which was adding career mode. This new mode changed the focus of the game from many detached puzzles and challenges into a streamlined flow that guides players through the content and gives them the motivation to keep playing and grow their factory.
On July 20th, 2017 it was announced that Ship It would be included in the 2017 PAX 10. Ship It is the first VR game to receive the honor. A special demo version will be showing on the PAX West expo floor, September 1st – 4th, 2017.
Press Kit Image Download – Zip file contains high res screenshots, logos, and key asset photos including these:
Logo & Icons
Ian McClellan – President
Team & Collaborators
Production & Design – Ian McClellan
Developer – Ian McClellan, Tom Lechner
Composer – Bryan Minus
Saxophones – Tanner Saylor
3D Art – Elliot Morris, Tilon DuBoise
Safety Posters – Mickey Godfrey
Voiceover – John Mondelli