Jesse Schell’s six lessons for making VR games

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Oculus Connect: 5 key questions at the big virtual reality conference in Hollywood.

Oculus VR, the virtual reality technology company owned by Facebook Inc., is set to make several announcements Thursday in the final stretch before its first products start shipping early next year.Virtual reality developers from around the world have assembled in Hollywood for the second Oculus Connect conference, and Oculus VR — the Facebook-owned company that has kickstarted the latest revolution for head-mounted displays — is planning to work closely with artists, engineers, and designers to help them make better immersive games.Virtual reality is a dream of video game lovers, but it is poised to blast far beyond play to education, medicine, architecture and other learning arenas.

Thanks to head gear from Facebook-owned Oculus VR (Rift) and Sony’s “Project Morpheus”—now renamed PlayStation VR—virtual reality is expected to hit the mainstream next year. Andrew Tschesnok, founder and chief executive of Organic Motion, sees the target market as including anyone who uses video, from YouTube bloggers to CNN. The Oculus Rift is essentially a computer screen strapped to the head, producing a sensation of being dumped in a virtual world when video plays on the display. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming. “We won’t be launching Rift preorders during the show, so don’t wear out your F5 key while you are watching the keynote,” wrote Luckey. “I would not normally make this kind of post, especially since it is not really news or a change in plan, but I want to make sure nobody is disappointed or surprised.” Luckey went on to write that Connect is a “developer show first.” The company isn’t forgetting about enthusiasts and consumers for its conference, but they are secondary and tertiary concerns. “There will be some consumer-facing announcements, but all in the context of their relevance to developers and the growing VR ecosystem,” he wrote. “We will be announcing and co-announcing some really cool stuff.” The Oculus cofounder also noted that fans should not expect positional tracking for the GearVR head-mounted display it has built for Samsung’s smartphones.

Organic Motion bills itself as the world’s first real-time virtual reality content creation studio and was among the innovative companies focused on the topic at a TechCrunch Disrupt startup conference in San Francisco this week. Analysts and developers have many explanations for why Oculus is placing a heavy emphasis on gaming (and dedicating nearly all of the Connect panels to the subject).

While Rift and HTC Vive have a way of telling where you are in a room, that tech is beyond the capabilities of modern mobile chips. “It’s not going to happen,” wrote Luckey. “Our computer-vision teams are doing some amazing work, but VR-grade inside-out tracking is not currently workable on mobile devices.” When Facebook bought Oculus last year in a deal valued at $2 billion, it touted virtual reality as the next major computing platform, allowing friends a means to visit one another no matter how far. Oculus and Sony have already unabashedly courted video game makers, with virtual reality being a major theme at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June. But the Disrupt conference took the technology a step beyond gaming, with startups such as VRChat, whose software lets people use Oculus Rift to get together in virtual worlds for conversations.

Remi Rousseau, co-founder of two startups linked to virtual reality, said the technology was “full of social applications,” allowing people to see real representations of one another, not just avatars. But though early virtual reality devices will highlight gaming, many expect serious revenue to roll in when VR expands to apps for travel, real estate, healthcare, government, sports and, of course, TV shows and movies. Rousseau emphasized that virtual reality holds great promise for professional applications, from presenting complex car prototypes to helping with medical care. Virtual reality video captured that way has already resulted in sales, mainly to medical equipment suppliers who use it to show the right way to use their products.

Any type of weird or different thing that they bring out, it’ll be super-interesting.” Oculus excited app developers earlier this year with controllers for the headset that comfortably slip into the grip of the hand. Beverage giant Coca-Cola has started some testing, but “there are not enough players in the market to justify that big brands are starting to advertise,” said Retinad co-founder Samuel Poirier. The company could also showcase “launch” titles — games that are specially or exclusively developed for the Rift — that will get prominent placement in the app store. Already, Samsung Gear VR and inexpensive Google Cardboard have let people have virtual reality experiences using smartphones as screens fitted into headsets.

But Brian Blau, a consumer products analyst at Gartner, is among those interested to see if there’s other data to consider. “How long will people wear a [headset], what are the put on/take off patterns that are emerging,” he said in an email. “Knowing this will give you an idea about long-term engagement behaviors.” For instance, at the industry’s Proto Awards on Tuesday, Venice start-up WeVR said people had collectively spent the equivalent of 560 days inside its award-winning app that puts viewers underwater with a blue whale. That’s comparable to “Call of Duty,” a popular console game that takes up to eight hours, Orth said. “We’re trying to find a way to make full complete experience that you’re going to want to be in VR for a while,” Orth said. “I think that nobody knows right now how long people can stay in.”

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