Monday, October 10, 2016

Thoughts on OC3 and Heading to IndieCade

James here for our weekly development post! This last week I was fortunate to attend Oculus Connect 3 at the San Jose Convention Center in the center of Silicon Valley. Having grown up in Santa Clara, a mere 15 minute drive from San Jose, I felt very much at home attending this conference. This meant that I knew to head to a Philz coffee before heading to the conference.

They must use magic beans to make coffee that good!

VR Software is Leading the Way

The underlying theme of the event seemed to be proving that great software experiences are eminently important to helping VR go mainstream. The hardware across many VR platforms is stupendous, and now it is up to us developers to make experiences which sing on those platforms. While improvements and optimizations on the computational and SDK side are going to allow developers to push more impressive graphics over time, we have only scratched the surface of what kinds of experiences are possible on existing hardware. 

In between talks and meetings I was able to try out some of the latest and greatest VR titles. Especially memorable was the multiplayer mode of Lone Echo, which I’ll describe as a cross between the epic zero-g combat of Ender’s Game combined with the Quidditch-esque goal of scoring by throwing a disc into a hoop. Another wonderful multiplayer experience I got to try was Eagle’s Flight, in which players warg into the perspective of the titular eagle and fly over Paris while playing capture the flag against other soaring eagles. 
Classic "VR face"
Most impressive to me were the improvements brought to Oculus Medium, a sculpting tool which demonstrates that 3D modeling can be accessible and fun with the right tools. The three founding members of White Lotus Interactive, myself included, first learned how to use 3D tools while attending Chapman University in Southern California. One of the skills that must be learned to make 3D art is how to move around and inspect your model or scene. So far, the tools typically used to do so include a mouse, keyboard, and a 2-dimensional monitor. Students must become adept at keyboard shortcuts and operations to even look at or edit their model. This is not the case in Oculus Medium. What VR headsets and hand controllers allow for is direct and lifelike inspection of a 3D model. Instead of rotating your viewport 180 degrees to look at the backside of your model, you just....move your head and look at the backside of your model! It’s seriously magical.

I made this dragon in just a couple minutes!
How does our game XING: The Land Beyond fit into the picture? By fully supporting motion controllers, offering multiple locomotion options, and supporting seated or room-scale play we are prepared to give players an excellent VR experience. We implemented these things so that players are comfortable in VR and hopefully able to forget about the hardware, and just become engrossed in the experience. Having now finished making most of the tough decisions on designing for VR, what remains is shipping a quality game that speaks for itself. 

Presenting at IndieCade on PSVR

This coming Friday gamers will be able to play XING: The Land Beyond at IndieCade in Culver City, which lasts October 14-16. Although XING can be played using a tracked DualShock controller on PlayStation VR, at IndieCade players will be able to use the Move controllers to engage with the world directly. 

Koriel will be heading to IndieCade on Saturday, so make sure to stop by and say hello if you’re attending! 

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