INTERVIEW

Wonder in the Age of Isolation: A Talk With Lincoln Davis of Polyarc

Moss and Quill Expand the Lonely World Though VR

Words By: Brendan Frye
Published Apr 24, 2020

With the worries that the modern landscape brings, VR more than ever is a refuge from the isolation and problems many people face. In theory, VR is an escape that transports the player to a new world, one that is as engaging as it is immersive. Moss, from Polyarc is one such game. It is an experience filled with wonder, magic and excitement, that offers an experience that people old and young alike can enjoy.

With Moss available on all major VR platforms, CGMagazine took the opportunity to delve into why Polyarc believes Moss is the perfect game for today’s climate. Chatting to Lincoln Davis, Publishing Director at Polyarc, we discuss issues of isolation, VR, along with how they as a studio they are coping with the new reality we are all facing. 

CGMagazine: For people stuck at home, how do you feel games like Moss give a sense of escape?

Lincoln Davis: There’s really not a true escape from today’s reality, it’s all around us. That said, if people can immerse themselves into something to get their minds off the day-to-day, that’s a good thing. And games are a perfect example of something that can do just that. With Moss, it’s not just transporting players to a fantastical place filled with lush environments and angelic music, it’s also the journey they embark on that captures their attention. If Moss can distract players even for a few minutes every time they play, that’s a good thing and can be super refreshing. 

Wonder in an Age of Isolation: A Talk With Lincoln Davis of Polyarc
Moss - Polyarc

CGMagazine: What does VR offer that differs from traditional gaming experiences?

Lincoln Davis: Total immersion. or as close to total immersion as the industry has come up with so far. Playing a traditional game is great, but you’re still influenced by the world around you. With a simple glance out the window, you can go from experiencing the thrill of an epic battle that saves your squad to instantly thinking about how you still have to mow the yard, take out the trash or that you have to get the kids back inside to finish their homework. VR reduces external influences allowing you to completely immerse yourself into another world. So now, when you’re wielding lightsabers, dodging bullets or helping a little mouse rescue her uncle, you feel a real presence in that world, not the one physically around you. Those dirty dishes can wait. 

CGMagazine: What is it about Moss that makes it perfect for this time?

Lincoln Davis: Social distancing is a real thing. Keeping to yourself or just your family is something that we’re all having to do right now, and it’s unnatural. We’re social creatures at our core and interacting with others fulfils a need that makes us feel connected, a sense of belonging. While it’s not the same as having happy hour drinks with a long-time friend, jumping into a pickup game of basketball or getting together to celebrate a birthday, Moss introduces you to a friend that needs you right now as much as you need her. In Moss, you befriend a little mouse named Quill that finds herself needing to embark on an adventure to save her uncle, and she needs you there by her side. And unlike traditional games, with VR, you get a true sense of presence in the world of Moss. Quill knows you’re there. She looks at you. She responds to you. And she looks to you for help. Throughout the adventure, you build a bond with Quill that triggers feelings of nurturing and nostalgia (if you ever cared for a little pet in the past). Experiencing these feelings helps fulfil that need for connection, for social interaction and that’s something special. 

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Moss - Polyarc

CGMagazine: How are you as a team working through this time, has the change in circumstance changed your day-to-day work?

Lincoln Davis: We’re 100% working remotely right now. This means a lot of Zoom calls, Slack conversations and virtual video playtests. We’re still on track to hit our internal milestones, even if that means adjusting and scoping where needed. From a cultural standpoint, in addition to the random Slack channel (that’s traditionally filled with random gifs and news), we started a food Slack channel to talk about the various foods we’re experiencing since we can’t do that together during lunch. We’re fortunate to have some very talented cooks/bakers on our team, and while we’re not getting to taste their creations, talking about them brings a sense of connection right now. But really, the highlight of our remote WFH office right now is the parade of pets that grace our weekly all-hands team meetings. If it weren’t for these furry animals, I’m not sure what would get us through the day … surely not the constantly changing Zoom backgrounds.

CGMagazine: With so much attention to Moss and other VR games right now, is the team at Polyarc planning new content for the game?

Lincoln Davis: Great question. We’re currently heads down in continuing to build upon the Moss franchise. We have a lot of stories to tell within the world of Moss and are looking forward to sharing them when the time is right. We also have a second-team working hard to develop another IP. More on that later. 

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Moss - Polyarc

CGMagazine: For people that have never played VR before, but are looking into it while isolated, why should Moss be on their purchase list after they dive into VR?

Lincoln Davis: I’d love to answer this but feel that CGM’s very own Chris Carter’s review of Moss and later Zubi Khan’s post when we released the Twilight Garden Update says enough. Check them out here:  Moss Review: https://www.cgmagonline.com/reviews/moss-psvr-review/

Twilight Garden Update Post: https://www.cgmagonline.com/2019/05/14/moss-update-oculus-quest/