Highwire Games

Golem emerges from the shadows this fall on PlayStation VR

Highly Anticipated PlayStation® exclusive Golem confirmed for release this Fall

London, UK, August 2019 – Highwire Games and Perp Games are absolutely thrilled to reveal that Golem will emerge from the shadows in both physical and digital form on PSVR this Fall.

Built by a team of world-class industry veterans and described by Polygon as a “Supergroup of Developers”, Golem is one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year.

Featuring music from the award-winning composer Marty O’Donnell, creator of the soundtrack for Halo and Destiny, innovative game design by Jaime Griesemer, the Game Designer on Halo & Destiny, and developed by a team instrumental in some of the best-loved games of all time, Golem has the world-class pedigree to be a flagship title for PlayStation® VR.

In Golem you take on the role of Twine, an adventurous kid who has been left critically injured by a serious accident. While you can’t leave your bed, you develop an extraordinary ability to create and control large stone golems and see the world through their eyes.

You can use your golems to explore an enormous abandoned city, collecting treasure and artefacts, while unravelling a deeper mystery and discovering the connection between the city and your family. Designed from the ground up for VR, the game also has an innovative free movement control scheme and intense one-to-one melee combat that sees you feint, block, and counter-attack your enemies.

Golem has been in development for several years as Highwire Games have spent time refining and polishing the experience to the highest possible standard. Now they’re ready to share what they’ve been working on with the rest of the world.

Of the announcement, Jaime Griesemer, Creative Director at Highwire, says “It’s so gratifying to see our original vision for Golem come together into a full experience. We’ve really had to push ourselves and the technology, but I think the game is beautiful and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to play it. And we’re pretty old school, so it won’t feel ‘finished’ for us until we see it on store shelves.”

Rob Edwards, Managing Director of Perp Games, is thrilled to be publishing one of PSVR’s most highly anticipated exclusives. “Golem has been a long-time coming but the wait is almost over. It is our honour to be working with such an amazing team of world-class talent. We can’t wait to explore Golem’s secrets.”

Golem features music from award-winning composer Marty O’Donnell, creator of the soundtrack for Halo and Destiny. As an added bonus for fans, the Physical Edition of Golem will also include a downloadable version of “Echoes of the First Dream” the musical prequel to the game.

Golem will launch this Fall as a PlayStation® VR exclusive and will receive a physical release through Perp Games in Europe and North America.

Golem v1.02 Patch Notes

In the world of Golem there are no proper names; Everyone is named after a common object or action. Like “Scratch” or “Pocket,” for example. Well, Twine has a friend named Patch that lives down the road. His house is infested with dunebugs that chew holes in his socks, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. See, this is the kind of elaborate world-building you get in a Highwire Games game!

Fixed in Golem Patch v1.02

  • Left-handed Mode. Also known as “easy mode” since so many attacks come from that side.
  • Support for the Nav Controller. Who even knew this 10 year-old optional peripheral to a controller peripheral to a camera peripheral for an obsolete console had so many fans? Well apparently quite a few of you have one at the bottom of a drawer somewhere because announcing support for the Nav Controller generated a lot of excitement. And you know what? It is pretty great, even if we had to hack support for it into the engine ourselves.
  • Direct movement control with a stick. You don’t have a Nav Controller? Well — while you wait for one to be delivered — you can still use the left stick on your DualShock for direct movement control. And now there is an option to turn it off, which ironically should help people realize that it is on by default. It also automatically suppresses the Incline Controls to prevent conflicts between movement inputs.
  • Allow option to disable adaptive turning. If adaptive turning isn’t for you, there is now an option to disable it and rely exclusively on the Quick Turn buttons. There is also an option for Very Slow adaptive turning, which in our tests allowed players to comfortably explore the world, but still make the small adjustments necessary for combat. You may want to try that first.
  • Foot-Focus-Friendly Incline Controls. One of the biggest challenges of tuning the Incline Controls was guiding players toward their optimal use. We found that some segment of players interpreted “Lean forward” to mean “Look down” and were trying to play by craning their neck and staring at their feet, which is quite uncomfortable and totally unnecessary. To help these players, we slowed your golem down while looking at your feet to encourage them to look up and gradually learn that only a slight forward shift from the waist was required to move forward at the golem’s maximum speed. Instead, they began complaining that their golem was too slow while they were looking at their feet… Lesson learned; We have removed the slow down.
  • Quick Turn options. Select from more angles, turn off the blink, there’s even an instant turn for Maximum Comfort. These are especially useful if you are playing without the Adaptive Turn.
  • Trophy granting, music timing, physics damping and other miscellaneous bug fixes. Ideally you will never even know these issues existed, so let’s not dwell on them too much.

Another Patch in the works

Here’s an “interesting” thing about console development. To patch a game you must submit it to platform certification, the same testing process that is required to release the game in the first place. In busy months like November, that submission must be scheduled far in advance. In our case, we actually scheduled the patch submission long before the game was even released, assuming there might be changes we wanted to make after launch. Unfortunately, that also meant that the timing for the patch was set in stone, and some of our planned improvements to Golem were not ready in time.

So it turns out that Patch has a younger cousin that lives a little further down the road. Here’s what we are planning for the next version:

  • Continuous Smooth Turning. Specifically, the ability to turn an arbitrary amount via button input. We weren’t satisfied with how our implementation felt, so we’re holding it back until we can figure out a better solution.
  • Super-sampling Bug. In addition to other anti-aliasing techniques, Golem renders each frame at a higher resolution than necessary and down-samples the results. This allows us to have a higher perceived resolution and a much smoother look. However, this can conflict with the PS4 Pro’s manual “super-sampling” option and leave the game looking very low resolution. For now, make sure to turn off the manual super-sampling option on your PS4 Pro and if the game still looks pixelated, rebooting seems to fix the problem.
  • Another Move. Some games use two Move controllers to represent two hands. These games also allow players to use the second Move as a sort of virtual movement stick because the Move does not have an integrated stick. In Golem, there is one Move representing a single sword. There doesn’t seem to be a need for a second Move that is only used as a virtual stick when players can just use an actual stick in their second hand. We are considering it anyway.
  • Hard Mode. There are videos of players fighting two golems at once, or beating a difficult Storm golem with a rusty sword, or backing a giant Stone Golem off a cliff to kill it. We are looking into adding a post-game mode that is designed to be exceptionally difficult and feature these unusual scenarios. Is that something people would be interested in? If so, let us know!

We don’t yet have timing for the next patch release, but will update you as soon as we know.

Plans for Golem v1.02 Patch

The Highwire team appreciates the passion and volume of feedback we’ve recieved from the community. Don’t worry, we worked on Golem for a long time — we want as many people as possible to get to experience it — and will continue to support the game going forward.

Here’s a list of bugs we are tracking for the Golem v1.02 patch:

  • Re-enable Left Hand Mode. Our sinister players were left out when the mode caused a progression blocker right before launch.
  • Infinite music after retreating from combat. Even great music shouldn’t go on forever.
  • Decrease weapon physics damping. A change that improved weapon response for PS4 Pro had a negative effect on base PS4 models and is being rolled back.
  • Instant registration of combat trophies. Trophies for killing certain types of golems were being delayed, causing players to believe they had not yet earned them and kill too many golems. In cases where these trophies were never awarded properly, the patch should retroactively grant them.
  • Collision fixes in the city. You are falling.
  • Miscellaneous performance optimizations and bug fixes.
  • My head flew around the room, flipped over and fell in a bucket. Your head did what now? Did you try turning it off and turning it back on? The PSVR, not your head. Maybe check the PSVR Tracking Issue Guide?

And here’s a list of control options we are adding in the patch. But first, a note from Jaime Griesemer, Creative Director on the game:

Our ultimate desire for Golem is total immersion. We want players to lose themselves in this storybook world, which requires controls that disappear and become an extension of your will. Although unusual at first, as you master them you parallel Twine’s heroic journey as she struggles to overcome her limitations. When I was working on the original Halo, everyone said you can’t do FPS on a controller because–

[Editor’s Note: Removing a four page tangent about proprioception, the Innovator’s Dilemma, authorial intent vs games as a service, the role of anti-fragility in new media and something about “sublimation into the singularity”… nothing relevant to patch notes.]

So — as long as everyone keeps all that in mind — we can add some options. Sure. I mean, I get that people have spent hundreds of hours in Skyrim…

But I’m not changing the difficulty. Tell them it’s supposed to be that hard.

  • Direct movement control with a stick. You can already use the analog stick on the DualShock to move in Golem. The fact that you are hearing about this for the first time in patch notes was a bad plan. We’re also making it optional and we’re working to enable support for the Nav Controller, too.
  • Suppress Incline Controls while using stick movement. Movement options should be exclusively applied, not added together. So if you do chose to use stick controls you won’t be required to keep your head still.
  • Allow option to disable adaptive turning. The feedback on this one is pretty clear. Golem players will now have the option to disable the adaptive turning and rely exclusively on the quick turn. We are also making the “blink” optional and adding more choices of turn angles.
  • Increased movement speed. The player’s maximum movement speed is limited by the streaming load times as you move through the city. Luckily, miscellaneous performance optimizations have allowed for faster movement. We’re going to restrict it to golems with higher level gemstones, though.
  • Slightly increased sensitivity of Incline Controls. Ideally, using the Incline controls should be completely comfortable for extended sessions. Only a few inches of movement is required for complete freedom of movement, it should be an almost imperceptible sway from the waist. There is no need to look at the floor or crane your neck or double over in your chair. We are increasing the sensitivity a bit more to try to discourage players from exaggerating their movements and causing unnecessary strain.

The team is working quickly to get the patch out very soon. If all goes according to plan you’ll be left-handed smooth-turning through the Endless City by Black Friday.

The Risks and Rewards of Golem, Out Now for PS VR!

There’s a reason why our studio is named “Highwire Games” and not “Beaten Path Interactive,” or “Incremental Entertainment.” We founded the studio in order to take the kind of risks that are not possible for huge teams with gigantic budgets.

Risk #1 – An Open World VR Game

The promise of virtual reality is that you will visit another world – but the current generation of tech is more suited to stationary gameplay and small environments. Streaming is difficult in VR and the technical investment was daunting, but as a result of that work Golem features an enormous city to explore. All without loading or interruption, allowing you to immerse yourself completely. And we’ve hidden weapons, treasures, artifacts and other collectibles everywhere, so exploration will be rewarded.

GOLEM_LAUNCH_BLOGPOST_SHOT_1

Risk #2 – The Incline Control Scheme

Good controls should not insert themselves between the game and the player, they should disappear from the process. You shouldn’t be thinking “I will press X to punch” but just “I will punch.” For us, the key to seamless controls in VR is your sense of proprioception; your awareness of your body and its position in the world. Golem’s Incline Controls allow you to move as you would naturally, by slightly leaning your body as if you were about to take a step and start walking…

For Most Players. The Incline Control System is designed for maximum immersion and allows you to lose yourself in the world completely. The system is very sensitive; your movements should be subtle and not cause any strain, especially when played while seated as designed. The result is an intuitive control scheme that is often easier to understand for new players.

For Sensitive Players. For those that are discomforted by movement in VR games, we have included as many comfort options as possible. Instant quick turns, a stationary scene in your peripheral vision, slower movement speeds – these options are all available by selecting “Comfort Mode” at the beginning of the game or can be turned on individually in the Options menu. Everyone’s reactions are different, so we encourage you to experiment and find the settings that work for you.

For Power Players. On the other end of the spectrum are those of you that live in VR and want complete control. Rather than implement dozens of possible control schemes, we have chosen to include direct control over your movement via the left analog stick on your DualShock 4. It’s primarily for those that prioritize efficient and responsive input over immersion, but it is always on and available if you want to take a break from the Incline Controls as well.

 

GOLEM_LAUNCH_BLOGPOST_SHOT_2

Risk #3 – Intense, Unforgiving Gameplay

One option we did not include in Golem was a difficulty setting. There’s only one way to play, and at times it can be deceptively difficult. The one-to-one melee combat starts at a manageable speed, but by the end of the game you will face enemies that will test your reflexes and force you to perfect your skills. The weapon and artifacts you use to build a golem are lost if they are destroyed or abandoned, so each time you enter the city the stakes are high. Reaching the furthest districts takes an investment in time and equipment, all of which can be lost in a moment of inattention or over-reach.

At times it may be frustrating – but exploring the gameplay space and your abilities is just as important as exploring the environment. Without the possibility of failure, there is no thrill of victory.

Golem has been a challenging and rewarding project for us, and we hope you enjoy playing it as much as we have enjoyed making it! It’s available as a download, but if you purchase the physical Special Edition you will also receive a copy of “Echoes of the First Dreamer,” the musical prequel to Golem.

We’re Highering

Highwire Games is looking to fill a few positions for our next project. Think you have what it takes to step out onto the wire with us? Email your resume to jobs@highwiregames.com.

Senior Mission Designer

Highwire is looking for a seasoned designer with a detailed understanding of storytelling and gameplay to build missions for an upcoming action game.

Responsibilities
  • Work with the Creative Director to design, plan and produce several missions
  • Script those missions (including level sequences, enemy placement, objectives, etc.)
  • Work with the art team to produce environments and other effects
  • Implement custom mission mechanics with Unreal blueprints
Qualifications
  • Shipped at least one game as a mission/level designer
  • Developed leadership and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Unreal Engine preferred
  • VR experience not required

Senior Gameplay Engineer

Highwire needs an experienced engineer to take responsibility for large swathes of gameplay and AI systems.

Responsibilities
  • Work with the Technical Director and Design team to plan, spec and implement large-scale gameplay and AI systems
  • Code, test and roll-out those systems in a complex network environment
  • Work with the entire team to polish and refine those systems
Qualifications
  • Shipped at least one game as a senior engineer
  • Developed production and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Unreal Engine preferred
  • VR experience not required

Animation Engineer

Highwire is looking for engineer with experience constructing and maintaining a character animation system.

Responsibilities
  • Work with the Technical Director and Design team to plan, spec and implement an expressive and robust animation system
  • Code, test and roll-out that system in a complex network environment
  • Extend the system with cutting edge technology, including motion capture and retargeting support
Qualifications
  • Shipped at least one game as an engineer
  • Developed production and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Unreal Engine preferred
  • VR experience not required

FX / UI Artist

Highwire is looking for a talented artist with the ability to both create in-game visual effects and do graphic design for the in-game UI. It’s an unusual combination, so if you have experience doing one and have dabbled in the other, you may be the one we are looking for.

Responsibilities
  • Craft and implement AAA-quality visual effects
  • Design and animate graphic UI elements
  • Phillips-Head screwdriver attachment
Qualifications
  • Shipped at least one game as an effects artist or graphic designer
  • Developed production and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Unreal Engine preferred
  • VR experience not required

Still Chiseling

We have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is… we’re going to delay Golem a bit longer. There’s no single reason for the delay, just a few small things that taken together make it the right thing for the game and for Highwire. We want to release a polished VR experience that we are proud of — there’s still some tuning and optimization to be done — and we’re too old for another insane death-crunch.

The good news is… we’re going to delay Golem a bit longer. The game is still coming out soon and we don’t expect the delay to be very long. In the meantime, go listen to Marty’s fantastic prequel album “Echoes of the First Dreamer” or play through Moss again. We’ll let you know when we have a new date.

-Jaime, Jared and Marty

Echoes of the First Dreamer

Today we are excited to announce “Echoes of the First Dreamer“; the musical prequel to Golem. It’s not the soundtrack to the game, it’s a stand-alone album composed, arranged and recorded as an independent work. It will be released before the game and introduce you to the world and themes of Golem.

In order to fund Echoes we need your help. An album of this type is more complicated and expensive than a traditional game soundtrack, and pulling it off will require more time, more musicians and engineering support, and more sophisticated mastering and editing. This project can only happen with your support!

So, please visit www.thefirstdreamer.com to check out the exclusive backer rewards and pledge today!

Ex-Magazine Editor covers Golem for Ex-Murdoch Website

IGN has done an outstanding job this month putting out a series of videos and articles on Golem. Absolutely required viewing for Golem fans.

You can check out all their coverage at IGN.com, but here are a few of our favorites!

 

Vic and Travis doing commentary on the Golem Announcement Trailer

 

A 360-Degree “SceneShot” of the Golem Arena

 

In-Depth Explanation of Golem’s Unique Controls

Extra! Extra! Read All About Us!

As more journalists and enthusiast press get a chance to play Golem and post their impressions, we needed a place to curate links to all the coverage. Now, you can visit our Press Page for all the latest stories, articles and videos related to the studio and our games.

The latest piece is an in-depth article from Ben Kuchera (@benkuchera) on Polygon. Read what he has to say about the game’s controls and visuals, and hear directly from the team as they discuss why they are excited to work in VR.

If we missed anything worth reading or watching, you can let us know in our forum!

Behind the Scenes

The PlayStation video team posted “PlayStation Experience 2015: Golem Conversation” — a video they ran on the PSX live stream featuring interviews with the Highwire team as they work on the announcement trailer.

Watch it for extra details about the game, some hidden secrets in the background and a cameo by one of the members of Daft Punk.