How Characters & Environments In The Secret Of Retropolis Were Built Inside VR With Quill

From hand-made environments in VR using Quill to hand tracking supported by players in VR headsets, Peanut Button’s The Secret Of Retropolis offers a tantalizing tease of the future.

For the price of about two cups of coffee, The Secret of Retropolis is available on Quest or Steam. A second chapter, Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye, has already received positive reviews on Steam and is awaiting release on Quest and PlayStation VR2 in the weeks ahead.



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Behind-the-scenes clip shared by Peanut Button showing character animation in VR with Quill for Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye.

Designed as a “good ‘ol adventure game”, Peanut Button’s Retropolis aims to capture the nostalgia of “your favorite 90’s point-and-click adventure games. Look around. Find items. Solve puzzles.” You’re set inside the body of a mechanical detective – Philip Log in what might be the same future as Job Simulator, minus the physics but with the addition of Log’s commentary helped by gorgeous art direction and noir-inspired music to set the mood.

Here is how the first Retropolis is described officially:

The Secret of Retropolis is a VR narrative game of a new kind, a blend of classic point-and-click adventure with immersive cinematography. Embody the witty protagonist of a film noir plot. Meet unforgettable characters. Solve puzzles. Lose yourself in the retro-futuristic atmosphere.Built for seated convenience, the intention is that “first time VR users will find this game engaging and easy to play. Experienced VR users will find this game casual and relaxing.”

Retropolis: Brush Strokes In VR To Physical Release

I contacted Peanut Button to ask about development efforts.

They say the positive response to the first Retropolis, released in 2021, helped them make a beefier second chapter in Never Say Goodbye. Now, they’ve even got the story plotted out for a chapter three, but nothing more concrete to share about those plans right now.



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Publishing partner Perp Games is helping the studio on a physical release for PSVR 2, going full circle back to traditional media for a game featuring characters that came to be inside VR itself.

Separately, the studio has a mixed reality experience on App Lab connected to the Retropolis universe called dot.line and they tell UploadVR they are working on an entirely new hand tracking title – a point-and-click escape room game targeting App Lab release whenever it is ready.

We’ve got a video coming soon to our YouTube channel looking at Retropolis 2 from genre fan Don Hopper, and the studio shared with us some glimpses behind the scenes of its animation processes from VR.



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We don’t usually include charts sent to us by developers or publishers trying to promote their work, but we thought the one below from Peanut Button was rather interesting. It suggests Retropolis 2 represents nearly 2.5 million “virtual brush strokes” made by hand in the creation of Retropolis 2 compared with less than 500,ooo for the first effort.

The developers use a tool called Quill by Smoothstep. That’s an art tool used to create some of VR’s most emotionally impactful short-form experiences, like the reliable tears-in-your-headset experience Dear Angelica. Quill got its start at Oculus, but was spun out in favor of other work at Meta.

Retropolis, then, shows developers stepping along the path laid by the work at Oculus Story Studio long before inspiring PC-based tools like Medium and Quill became resource-starved relative to Meta’s larger Horizon efforts.

In some ways, to experience the point-and-click story delivery of Secret of Retropolis today is to look back at an age when Oculus cared about PC-based creativity tools for VR other than what was on Facebook’s Horizon.

“All of the Quill animations of the time were influential, we really believe this is an amazing tool for creation,” Peanut Button told us.

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