Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
With the VR game market exploding in the last couple of years, we had to wonder — where did all these devs come from and what was their journey? We talked to 3 developers about their path to the ‘metaverse’.
ZenzVR’s Niklas Persson
If you’ve played ZenzVR’s arcade-shooter Hordez, you won’t be surprised to learn its creator has experience in the arcade business. Here’s how Niklas Persson went from the games industry to arcades, and back again:
“When I first got started in the games industry, my brother, two other guys and I started a company called Refraction. One of those guys was Patrick Söderlund, who is now one of EA’s VP’s today. We made a game called Codename Eagle, a fun game ahead of its time. The game sold pretty well. Soon after Digital Illusions saw the game and contacted us. There weren’t that many games companies in Sweden at this point so Digital Illusions wanted to buy into the company and make our studio their head studio in Stockholm. We had already begun working on Battlefield 1942 and once we became Digital Illusions, we expanded and became about 30 people to release. The game became a pretty well-known franchise. Digital Illusion is known as DICE today. After the release, I quit the games industry and started doing other stuff, like starting up internet cafes and laser tag centers.
When the VR revolution happened, which took far too long, I managed to build something for VR. I decided it was a good time to try and get back in the games industry. I originally wanted to build, a VR arcade. So, I was looking at the technology to do that because when I was running the laser tag business and I was thinking about how cool it would be if people were running around with VR headsets. But that wasn’t possible at the time, so I developed a system where you could actually play multiple plays with a computer in your backpack much like V Arcade or The Void.”
Learn about Niklas journey and the making Hordez in our interview.
Morgan Young of Quantum Capture
Image courtesy of IRIS VR
VR assets need to be done right which makes technology such as reality capture so attractive to game developers. AAA devs Morgan and Craig left their AAA gigs to pursue a company that specializes in 3D scanning:
“ I was working on Assassin’s Creed and Craig Alguire was working on Far Cry at Ubisoft. We stumbled upon the scanning technology right around the same time that the DK1’s Kickstarter was going on. We started with some rudimentary scanning at Craig’s place with 12 DSLR’s in his living room. From there, we were interested in seeing this in VR. We managed to get Blair’s head scan in a Unity scene. It was awesome, it was the first time we saw a photo-real 3D scan in VR. We definitely knew we were on to something at that point.
We took it to Ubisoft and tried to sell them on the idea but they didn’t really see the long-term vision yet. So, we went on our own to see what we could do with it. Both of our skillsets were perfectly applicable. I’m a 3D Artist and Craig is a Tech Artist among other things. We met with Chris Abel, Blair’s partner in IRIS VR. Chris was blown away by the scanning concept. He was in a situation where he could get the funds for us to leave Ubisoft and grow our camera rig. We went from 12 DSLRS to 80 to 92 to now we have 112 DSLR photogrammetry scanning rigs. We started working with Blair to scan characters in his game, Technolust.
Since we’ve left Ubisoft, our focus was on achieving photo-real 3D scans specifically to showcase inside of VR. There was no looking back at that point. Now we run a productions service studio that focuses completely on VR development. We do motion capture, 3D scanning, and 360 videos.”
Read about Quantum Capture and the utopian experience, Technolust here.
Martin Field of nDreams
Image courtesy of nDreams
For UK’s largest VR game developer, it was love at first sight. This is nDreams journey to virtual reality:
“We originally had a close relationship with Sony due to our work on PlayStation Home. That gave us early access to what would eventually become PlayStation VR.
We also had some links with Oculus which allowed us to get our hands on the Oculus Rift DK1. We fell in love with the medium and very much wanted to shift all of our focus onto it just through sheer passion. We really just fell in love with VR at first sight and thought it was going to be a very viable and popular medium in the future and we figured that the best thing to do was to try to gain some kind of early move advantage.
Bear in mind, as a studio, our background in the virtual world helped set us up for having the kind of vision that VR might one day be able to provide. I don’t think there’s anybody at the studio that hasn’t read Ready Player One or Snow Crash, so we’re all very big fans of VR as a concept as well as how it translates in actual reality, not just in in fiction.”