The Twilight Zone VR Interview with Fun Train’s Douglas Nabors
Seeing the upcoming trailer for The Twilight Zone VR and how it seems to perfectly encapsulate everything that is The Twilight Zone but brings it to the VR play space. I knew I had to not only play it, but I needed to talk to the people behind making it. VR has always been a fun place to find games and exciting experiences. While talking to Douglas from Fun Train, I can tell we are in for something unique. Given their previous work in horror with The Exorcist: Legion VR, their foray into The Twilight Zone’s weird and sci-fi thriller-esque nature is something to keep your eyes on for sure. Today I’m going to do something a little different and bring you after Douglas and I had already talked for about half an hour about EGLX, Canada, and a lot about VR.
Douglas: So what VR game are you into right now? What’s your go-to?
Justin: Walkabout Minigolf. It’s just easy to play with friends and stuff.
Douglas: Oh, so you’re kind of playing older games mostly?
Justin: I’ll go all over the place. Like I’ve been playing Resident Evil. I didn’t have a Quest until they announced that, and I was like, I’m gonna guess I have to get a Quest now.
Douglas: Good for you. So are you just dipping your toes into VR now?
Justin: I’ve had an Index since they came out. So I’ve played like Half-Life Alyx and Boneworks, so I’ve been in it for a bit now. So how’s Twilight Zone going for you guys?
Douglas: Yesterday, We were actually in like a six-hour marathon polish session. We’re going scene by scene through The Twilight Zone. We are going like, can we fix this? How can we make this better? Can we hear the sound of that frying pan? No, it needs to be loud. Or can we hear the woman crying in the corridor that needs to come up, or she’s crying too loud? Like, bring her down? Like all kinds of like minutia that
Justin: So, how did you get into VR?
Douglas: I was a producer for TV shows and movies. Okay. So I was doing the show Monk for a long time. It was a detective show. Yeah. About a kind of an OCD detective, I did that for about six years, a hundred and something episodes. I got a taste for VR with the old Oculus DK1. And I thought, man, there’s a whole brand new, and I was always a closet gamer. Okay. I was working in Hollywood as a producer, but I was secretly going home, and instead of going out to cocktail parties, I was going home and playing Action Quake and all these other Quake mods. And then I played all kinds of Half-Life mods. So I had a passion for gaming already, and then I put on a VR headset, and that was it.
Justin: VR has been amazing. It’s interesting to start; it was kind of this isolating kind of experience. Now people are beginning to like open up. There is a ton of multiplayer games now.
Douglas: Yeah, that’s exactly why the next one, The Exorcist Legion SIN, is going to be Co-Op but not asymmetrical. So example, you and two to three friends, we’re not sure if it’s a two to three yet, but you are going to go on an exorcism journey together.
Justin: That sounds terrifying. Is there a lot of work that goes into getting these big names like The Exorcist, Tarzan, or The Twilight Zone?
Douglas: Oh my gosh, yeah. So I started negotiating the license for Twilight Zone in 2019, and it was signed in 2020. So that gives you an idea of how slow these things work.
Justin: I could be remembering wrong, but The Twilight Zone episodes, and I’m sure some of the old ones, were more careful what you wish mentality behind them. Do these stories kind of follow that as well? Are these reimagined episodes from the show or creations just for the game?
Douglas: So with The Exorcist, Tarzan, and Twilight Zone, we never remake stories that have already been made in a different medium. So we want to bring our own unique stories to life. I don’t want to spoil anything, but yeah, three awesome, completely different episodes.
Justin: It’s exciting that it is stories of your own creation. Because it’s like you get to tell the stories you, and I mean, you’re a fan of The Twilight Zone.
Douglas: I thought I was a fan, but man, we got with the Pocket Money Games guys and Rob Yescombe, who did The Invisible Hours. I’m not sure if you know that game?
Justin: The Invisible Hours is one of my favorite VR games. I love the murder mystery genre of games!
Douglas: Rob introduced us to Pocket Money Games. But then I started talking to these guys, and specifically Frankie. They are massive Twilight Zone fans, like tons of T-shirts, and he’s got video games all in his office. And so he and Rob started collaborating on Episode one, episode two we made with Frankie, and then Episode Three with Frankie and somebody on our team. I don’t want to ruin anything here. But Episode One scares me even now. And I played it about 50 times.
Justin: So can somebody go in and choose to skip episode one if they want to?
Douglas: Not anymore. After you get through the game, then you can go back. And there are other fun unlockables for fans of the series if they go back and replay episodes.
Justin: So because it is Quest 2 and it’s wireless, people have different play spaces. How was that something that you account for?
Douglas: Yeah, the game, First of all, it can be played seated or standing. Our lead developer is a standing player, and Frankie is a sit-down player. So we play all different ways. Right now, we have free motion or locomotion, and we use smooth turning and snap turning. We do not use teleport, which is a choice we made because we feel like it’s an immersion killer.
Justin: Obviously, you guys have mentioned that it’s coming to the quest. Are there any plans for bringing it to Steam or PSVR? PSVR2, or whatever it’s going to be?
Douglas: Yes. So the PSVR2 port will begin immediately upon Quest launch. So it’ll be a porting team that we’ve worked with before that ported Tarzan for PSVR. So yeah, they are called VRMonkey, and they’re great. They’re based in Brazil. They’re about a 40-person team. And they’re really good. And we’ve already got we’ve already had multiple PlayStation meetings. So yes, PSVR. The only problem is we don’t know what PSVR2 looks like. Right now, we know as much as anyone else does about PSVR2.
Justin: So you’ve mentioned that episode one is almost straight horror. About the suspense or thriller of the Twilight Zone. Yeah. And then with, I mean, Exorcist Legion and Exorcist Legion SIN coming in, are you finding yourself leaning towards more of like the horror genre yourself? Like, is that what you like to develop?
Douglas: Absolutely, yeah. It’s fun. I like science fiction and horror, and fantasy with Tarzan. So we’re stepping back into it.
Justin: That’s exciting. I love VR horror is very hard for me because, I mean, there’s something with being stuck in with your horror. So for people who like aren’t in the mindset of The Twilight Zone or anything, are there going to be things that they don’t necessarily pick up on, or will there be easter eggs for fans?
Douglas: Easter eggs? Yes. We have peppered easter eggs throughout the game that are homages to the classic series. And if you were a true Twilight Zone fan, you’ll pick up on this, but it’s not required to play the game or understand this or a story.
Justin: So, when you were looking at the series itself, I know there are a bunch of different iterations. Was that was there one iteration that you looked at?
Douglas: So we’re going classic Twilight Zone. Up to the 80s, we watched a lot of those 80s and even the movie.
Justin: if you could give somebody, let’s say, your top three Twilight Zone episodes what would they be?
Douglas: Monsters are Due on Maple Street. Please watch that one. Time Enough at last. And finally, people should watch The Invaders.
Justin: Any books, Shows, movies, or games you’d recommend?
Douglas: Movie-wise, I would recommend Cube. If you were to watch any television show, I would recommend my friend’s show called Channel Zero. I always recommend Time Crimes to people. I want to thank Douglas again for being an excellent person to interview. A real honest and friendly guy. Since talking to him, I’ve gone and watched the Twilight Zone episodes he mentioned, and they are really good, so be sure to check those out!
Most importantly, be sure to check out Twilight Zone VR on the Oculus Store, and check out Fun Train’s past work, one of the scariest VR games I’ve played, The Exorcist: Legion VR, is available on Steam, Oculus, and PSVR.
The Twilight Zone VR comes out July 14th for the Meta Quest and at a later date for PSVR. You can go to this link to wishlist it on the Oculus store right now!