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Cutting multiplayer from Astro Bot 'created some controversy within the team'

Astro Bot Rescue Mission is one of PlayStation VR's true triumphs, but it wasn't a very easy game to make. Sony's Japan Studio struggled at times to decide what should and shouldn't be in the game, and in one case, had to make a tough decision that some team members weren't too happy about.

That decision was related to the game's now non-existent multiplayer mode.

Once upon a time, Japan Studio was dedicated to including a local co-op multiplayer mode in Astro Bot Rescue Mission. The idea, the studio said on the PlayStation Blog, was that one player would experience the game in VR while three others could play the game on a TV. But as fun as the multiplayer mode was to make, and despite the joy team members got out of playing it, it soon became clear that the planned multiplayer mode was actually holding the game back.

"There wasn't enough use of verticality or perspective, largely because the TV camera had to fit four players on screen at all times and therefore keep movement and amplitude at a minimum," the studio said. "Without noticing, we were slowly putting the priority on TV play at the expense of VR."

Eventually the decision was made: multiplayer would be scrapped in order to let the VR side of the game flourish. And flourish it did; free from the confines of keeping four players in view, Astro Bot's levels were able to grow even larger and become even more creative. But not everyone was thrilled about the change.

"The multiplayer episode was a difficult time on the project," Japan Studio said. "It was probably the hardest cut we ever made, and it created some controversy within the team, especially because it felt like we were taking something of quality away. But at times, such decisions are necessary for the greater good and there is no more regret today as it allowed the game — and the team — to reach new heights."

Astro Bot Rescue Mission eventually took home the prize for Best VR/AR Game at The Game Awards 2018. You can get Astro Bot today for PlayStation VR via the PlayStation Store.