Interview with Bjarne Rene of Vostopia
Vostopia provides customizable 3D avatars for mobile, desktop and Web games. Founded in Norway in 2009 by industry veterans Bjarne Rene, Mike Man and Tore Birkeland, Vostopia is now a small multinational team with employees in Norway, the UK and New Zealand.
Explain the concept behind Vostopia?
Our core concept is a universal avatar system. We’ve been making games since the early nineties, and have been playing them since the seventies, and in the era of free to play and in-app
purchases, we wanted to shake things up a bit and bring a little persistence to the party.
For players, we thought it’d be cool if they were able to do more than just create and customise their avatar. We want to enable them to bring their avatar with them to new games and apps along with all the loot they’ve acquired for them. So that kick ass pirate hat they’ve just bought isn’t just locked to the game and ecosystem they bought it in. This also benefits developers as it’s another avenue of exposure for their game. Players can check out what their friends are wearing and see what games they’re from.
For developers, we provide an easy time saving solution, along with all the documentation and support they need to get customisable avatars in their games and apps, plus the tools they need to monetise. They get all the micro-transaction and store management stuff they need to create, sell and manage their game, app and avatar items and offers. It’s all packaged up nicely so that it can be integrated into a game or app in minutes!
Can you describe the role that the Unity Asset Store plays in your vision?
We think the Unity Asset Store is absolutely brilliant and it keeps getting better! It is a huge time saver and it makes it possible to get technology (that would previously require big teams of specialists) into your project in hours or minutes as opposed to months and years.
There is tech on the Asset Store that matches Vostopia avatars really well, such as Mixamo animations and Photon networking. The combination of the three gives you a great starting point to create a virtual world. By cleverly combining that with the many art assets available, the possibilities are endless.
What do you like about Unity?
We really like how flexible and powerful it is, and how quickly it is to get great results. The component based architecture makes it possible to slot different building blocks into your project, and that empowers smaller teams to build awesome things.
Do you have any advice for developers who might use your service?
Build real social experiences! With customisable avatars, you can build deeper experiences for players. They can show off their style through personalising their avatars, and interact with friends (and make new ones) inside the game worlds.
Have a play with the new animation system in Unity 4. We have had great fun playing with it so far. Different character scales are great fun! The animation trees and blending feel really good as well.
Also, have a look at the multiplayer demo we built based on Photon. It sets you up with a small environment, a lobby and a multiplayer chat room where each player has their own avatar. It is a good example of what can be done in a very short time, and a good base to build on.
And if you have any questions then please feel free to email us directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re a friendly lot, and would love to hear your feedback and give you a hand if you need it :D
What can Unity developers look forward to in the future from Vostopia?
We are hard at work on bringing out our asset creator plan enabling our developers to create their own clothes and avatar assets that can be sold or given away within their games.
For the avatars themselves, we are working on a facial animation system that will lift them to another level. We have even more things in the pipeline, and we are also listening to feedback from our developers on what is most important, so please let us know what you need.
What is your vision for the future of game development?
We see Vostopia, Unity and game developers working hard to fill players’ insatiable need for more games to play with their avatars! Players can personalize their avatar and use them everywhere!