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Alexander Vilassak on OVIVO

OVIVO is a strange and almost hypnotic game with simple controls and complicated puzzles. The world of OVIVO is comprised of black and white shapes, and players can shift between these white and black planes to navigate the world. This results in levels looking like complicated works of art that incorporate silhouettes of recognizable imagery.

This surreal world offers a unique form of level design with its beautiful visuals. The game's simple but unique mechanics offer a variety of puzzle possibilities. In a way, these mechanics remind me of the Portal gun from Portal. This is mostly because the simplicity of the mechanics lead them to become flexible and creative ways to navigate the environment. We sat down with Alexander Vilassak to find out more.

Who are you? How did you get into game development?

We are the small team that consists of four people, working in Russia, Saint-Petersburg. Our team met on hackathon in 2014, and there we made our first working prototype of OVIVO.

After the victory at hackathon, we continued working on project and won several prizes: Gamesjam 2014, Imagine Cup 2015, Best indie game DevGamm 2015. The big victory for us is Imagine Cup organised by Microsoft. We got a grant from them and started to continue on OVIVO like a studio. Also thanks to Microsoft we were on PAX.

Are you working with a team, if so how people are you working with? How long have you been working on this game?

We were working, like full time, on OVIVO since august 2015. Our team IzHard consists : Dari Chernova - art and marketing; Darya Kruzhinskaya - art, leveldesign, animations; Nikolay Skakun - programming; and myself - gamedesign, programming, teamleading.

What is OVIVO? How does it play and what is the goal?

Well, what is OVIVO? It’s a good question. We don’t know : ). All things that we devise on project are devising by itself. We are just tools that doing things. But we can say that the main idea in the game is to show simplicity of mechanics, minimalistic art and a flowing atmosphere that creates by music Brokenkites. All these three things we want to show in our game and put players in meditative flow.

Where did the idea for OVIVO come from? What inspired the creation of the Black and White mechanic?

The idea was born on hackathon. I invented the mechanic using two colors - because we have only 24 hours to make working prototype and I thought that we don’t need to think about art, colors,shadows etc.

The gameplay looks remarkably simple (not in a bad way of course), what were some ways you were able to create interesting puzzles or gameplay elements from these simple controls?

The Mechanic is very simple indeed. One button to switch and buttons to move right and left. There is nothing superfluous and this is our main philosophy in game, that building everything.

That's why we don’t have any text during the game, and no tutorial with “press the button”, or no new character’s abilities - instead we use the environment to make gameplay a little different - for example: the character can control an object by switching on it and moving left and right.

The environment is very interesting with visual elements that seem familiar. Were you inspired by anything in particular when developing the world?

All art that we have is by our artists Dari and Darya. Sometimes, it’s very difficult task - because we need to think in opposite ways of colors. We were inspired by the arts of Escher, arts of classic painters like da Vinci, Moonk, and others,also Rorschach’s test of course. We spent a lot of time surfing the web to investigate visual illusions -how they work and how we can use them in the game.

What is the future for OVIVO? Are you planning on adding anything new post launch or possibly a new feature or environment down the road?

We have a lot of thoughts and sometimes we need to filter these dreams or put them in a box for the future projects. But one thing we want to put in OVIVO if we have a good launch is put in an environment editor to give players the chance to make their own levels. We have a very weak prototype that allows you to make a photo on a picture that you draw and put in the game.

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