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Motanum, Lead Game Designer at Rockhopper Studios — Interview Series



To celebrate the recent release of Musical Range on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest 3, I thought I’d reach out to Rockhopper Studios’ lead game designer, Motanum, to discuss not only the latest VR rhythm game, but the future of the brand, in general.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Motanum! Tell us, how did it all start for you as a game designer? What was it that drove you to pursue a career in the gaming industry?

Motanum: It was all a very natural progression. I got started via the modding community of Portal 2. I was creating custom levels for Portal and Counter-Strike: Source. When Portal 2 released, I was eager to start creating levels for the game as well. One day I started working on a series of levels where the player used a paint gun rather than the portal gun, and that idea grew organically into a full Portal 2 mod called Aperture Tag. Late in the development of the
mod, I had the opportunity to sell on Steam which I took. And this showed me that it was possible to have a career in video game development, even though I was studying mechatronics engineering at the time.

Let’s talk about Rockhopper Studios. When was the company founded, and how did it all come together?

Motanum: When I finished my degree from university, the Virtual Reality headsets were starting to gather momentum. I was drawn into VR because it has many challenges to solve as it drastically changes the way people consume games. After doing various VR demos, my wife and business partner and I saw an opportunity to create architectural visualization using VR. This led to the creation of Rockhopper Studios in 2019 in Monterrey, Mexico.

And where did the interest in virtual reality stem from? Is this an avenue Rockhopper Studios has wanted to explore for quite some time?

Motanum: Rockhopper studios was established with the vision of taking advantage of the transformative power of virtual reality. The foundation of our studio is rooted in the belief that VR has the capacity to enrich the human experience and push boundaries of what people can achieve. We specialize in creating immersive Virtual Reality experiences, which can deliver photorealistic visuals while being very easy to understand and use, so it could become a tool that truly empowered our clients into their needs.

Speaking of virtual reality — tell us about your latest game, Musical Range. What can we expect from this title?

Motanum: Musical Range is our attempt at creating a new way to allow people to play music in VR. I am a long-time fan of music, and thoroughly enjoy playing music. But playing music can be hard for many people. Either the time it takes to master an instrument, the cost barrier, or finding a good teaching source, leads to many people quitting music, or worse, end up thinking they are not good enough for music. We want to break that and be able to offer anyone the experience of what it feels like to play music in a fun, affordable and efficient way. We want you to be able to pick up the basics in just 5 minutes and feel like you are rocking to the music, being loved by your audience, and inspire you into all that is possible to do within the game.

Musical Range Gameplay

Credit: Rockhopper Studios

We also hear Musical Range has frequently been referred to as “the love child of Guitar Hero.” Can fans of that particular series expect a few Easter eggs or similarities?

Motanum: Our team is a huge fan of Guitar Hero and Rock Band-style games, but we wanted to go beyond just making you feel like you are playing music, we want you to experience the real thing. While you won’t find any specific easter eggs, you can probably find the similarities in the design, such as play well and the crowd will shout and your sound will be full and epic but miss a note or play a bit out of tune, and the crowd will react and your sound will suffer, until you catch up.

You’ve clearly found a foothold in the VR domain. Are you looking to expand into other territories at any point in the foreseeable future?

Motanum: We like to look at up-and-coming technologies and find innovative ways to take those and integrate them into fun and unique experiences. However, our current focus is VR as we believe it is not just a growing market, but a place where there is a lot of innovation in entertainment. And that presents to us an environment of interesting problems and challenges to solve. We like to create experiences that people could not imagine before and VR offers a place to try that out.

Musical Range - Meta Quest Launch Trailer

So, what’s next for Rockhopper Studios? Are there any dates that we can jot down for 2024? Care to share any details on the next big project?

Motanum: Our focus is to support Musical Range for hopefully many years. We want to add more music, more sound tones, more stages, more song modifiers, as well as a story or campaign mode, to provide players with a clear progression as well as a path in mastering the game, so they can take on new challenges musically, and learn all that’s possible to play in the game.

Any final words for our readers?

Motanum: I’m thrilled to extend an invitation to you all to try Musical Range, available for PCVR and Meta Quest 2 and 3 via App Lab. Whether you already play one or multiple instruments, or someone who has a desire to play and perform music, Musical Range can be your gateway into exploring your musical talents. We firmly believe that Musical Range is more than a musical game, it is an excellent starting point for your musical exploration, providing a fun, unique and accessible experience for people to start interacting and connecting with music.

Thanks for your time, Motanum!


Interested in keeping tabs on Rockhopper Studios’ latest endeavors? If so, then be sure to check in with the team over on their official social handle here. For more updates, you can check out their portfolio here.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.