With Beat Saber now available on both PC VR headsets and PSVR, developer Beat Games is talking more about the game’s roadmap, including plans for more free songs alongside paid song packs.
Feature Parity, Custom Tracks, and Level Editor
Speaking during an official livestream Q&A to celebrate the launch of Beat Saber on PSVR, members of development studio Beat Games opened up about what players can expect for the game going forward. Generally, the team said they want to bring all features, including multiplayer, to all platforms. When it comes to official support for custom songs and a beat map editor, however, the studio expects those will only come to the PC version because of platform and licensing restrictions on PS4.
“Many of the things we’re doing right now are very complicated not because of the technical reasons but because of the legal reasons,” said Beat Games’ Ján “Split” Ilavský. “When we are doing something we have to talk to lawyers about if it’s ok if we can do it. We are really on a thin line about when we’re dealing with music stuff.”
CEO and composer Jaroslav Beck added that the difficulty of dealing with major music labels and licensing red tape was a sore point for the studio.
While an official beat map editor and support for custom songs is under development for the PC version, the PC version currently supports custom songs through unofficial community-made plugins. Check out our guide here for how to install them, and also see this list of some great custom songs to try.
Free Songs and Paid Song Packs on the Way
On the subject of adding more official music to the game, the developers say they are planning to add 30+ free songs to the game over time, and that three of those songs could be coming quite soon.
In addition to free songs, the studio also plans to release paid song packs which will include 10 songs for $10 each. Three packs are currently on the roadmap; the first pack is already finished, the second is almost complete, and another pack is already planned, said Beck.
Beck also explained why some songs will be free and others will be paid: songs from independent artists who fully own the rights to their music and contribute their songs to the game in exchange for exposure will be release for free. Songs which are owned by various labels and publishers will be released as part of the paid song packs in order to fund the licensing fees for that music. Generally speaking, it sounds like free songs will come from lesser known independent artists while the paid song packs will include more mainstream music.
The song packs could also be more than just the music and the beat maps to go along with it, the team said, hinting that packs could also include new level visualizations to fit the theme of each pack.
Beck also confirmed to Road to VR that the five new songs currently only on the PSVR version will come to the PC version in time.
Expert+ Difficulty and More Modifiers Including ‘Pro’ Mode
The PSVR version of Beat Saber includes eight modifiers which change how each song plays. For instance, there’s an ‘Insta Fail’ modifier which fails the player on any mistake, as well as a ‘Disappearing Arrows’ modifier which makes arrows vanish as the blocks approach the player.
The team said they plan to bring all of these modifiers to the PC version of Beat Saber, and have plans for five or six more modifiers which will be “very special for Beat Saber,” meaning they will be more specific to the game than the existing modifiers which are more general.
Ilavský let spill one of the new modifiers that’s in the works: a ‘Pro’ modifier which shrinks the collider to match the visible area of each cube. Currently, the area which counts as a ‘cut’ on each cube is actually invisibly larger than the cube itself. This makes the game easier to play. The Pro modifier will only count cuts when they directly strike the cube, forcing players to have better accuracy and timing. Ilavský said he expected this feature would be desirable for high level players and in competition settings.
Furthermore, Ilavský also confirmed that a new ‘Expert+’ beat map will be added to each official song, notching up the difficulty another step above the current ‘Expert’.
A few other interesting bits were discussed during the Q&A as well.
New Saber Design & Custom Sabers
The new saber design seen in the PSVR version will come to the PC version as well. The team said that the reason for the new look was not only because the original sabers were created quickly and were very basic in their appearance, but also because they wanted to further separate the look of the game from the Star Wars franchise to avoid any semblance of looking like they are trying to benefit from someone else’s IP without permission.
A custom saber feature, which has been discussed previously, was also affirmed to still be in the works.
New Obstacles & Environments
The developers said during the stream that they have ideas for other obstacles (like the game’s walls and bombs) to add more variety to levels, however they gave no hints as to what they might be.
The team also said they’re interested in creating more environments as the backdrop for songs, but said that it isn’t high on their priority list before other features get finished.
‘Game Changer’ Plugin from LIV
The studio is also experimenting with a new plugin from the LIV team (the company that makes the green screen compositing app which allows players to insert themselves into Beat Saber videos).
The new plugin, which Beat Games referred to as ‘Game Changer’, would allow the game to be changed in real-time based on inputs from a livestream audience like those on Twitch. This could allow for interaction between the audience and the streamer. The team didn’t say how the plugin might interact with the game, but conceivably it would be possible to do things like speeding up or slowing down songs on the fly based on audience input.
PC Price Will Likely Increase After Early Access
During the Q&A the team explained that the $30 price point for Beat Saber on PSVR (which is $10 more than the PC version) was decided because the PSVR version is a more complete version of the app, including more songs, modifiers, and the Campaign mode; the PSVR version isn’t considered Early Access. The PC version will get those same features and music in due time, and will eventually leave Early Access, at which point the price will be increased.
As the PC version gets updated to match the PSVR version, the optimizations made for PSVR will allow the PC version to run faster and look better, the team said.
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