It was a really fun 2 days at Unite Singapore 2016 where there were 6 VR talks and 4 VR showcases.
1) The return of the arcade: Building unachievable at home VR experiences
The first talk was given by Scott Vandonkelaar of Zero Latency. Zero Latency is based in Melbourne and has been creating wireless warehouse scale VR experiences.
For hardware, they use Oculus or OSVR headsets together with their own custom backpack PC, gun controllers and tracking solution. These allow them to create multiplayer VR experiences where you can roam around large spaces (200 sq metre to 400 sq metre) without being connected to wires like in most at home VR experiences.
For software, they have been pushing boundaries to come up with engaging content to entertain their customers. Currently they have ZOMBIE SURVIVAL, an intense zombie action game where you and your teammates defend a location from zombie attacks. The lessons learnt from this game were many:
- Players love to explore and take advantage of the large space available. If the design of the game discourage or causes the player to stay at one spot more than exploring the place, it leads to a less satisfactory experience.
- Communication between the players take some effort but they are critical to making a good experience in a multiplayer game.
- Having a variety of weapons adds to player enjoyment.
- Boss fights are expected to give a satisfying finish to the player’s game time.
Their upcoming multiplayer VR experience ENGINEERIUM takes a different direction compared to zombie survival . It is a puzzle exploration game that was designed to make full use of space available. One mind-boggling tricks was to use curve walls to simulate walking up a ramp. They also have multiple floors even though in real life everyone was walking on the same ground. Lessons we can take away from this experience are:
- We can get away with a lot more than we thought in VR. The possibilities are immense.
- Making puzzles in 3D space is difficult and easy to over complicate.
- Everyone loves a sky whale.
As they operate their game centers in Melbourne and Tokyo, Zero Latency also work to ensure player safety during gameplay by designing a personal boundary system so that you are alerted when you are near someone else.
In the near future, Scott shared that they are developing competitive player vs player games and also opening up more Zero Latency game centers at Madrid and US. One day, they may come to South East Asia as well 🙂
2) The LIGHTWEAVE story: how we got to 2000 new users a week by delivering experiences.
Most Unity Developers make games that are either published on Steam for PC games or Play Store or App Store for mobile games. For VR games, there is a challenge to monetize due to the limited number of headsets. As a result you need a really successful game to earn a significant amount of money.
Instead of releasing their content online, LIGHTWEAVE shows us a different approach by licensing their content to clients for a contracted period to engage with their consumers. For example, they have licensed their content to shopping malls throughout Australia where their VR experiences are delivered to 2000+ new users per week.
5 lessons they learnt from creating and implementing these experiences:
- Poorly made content are very obvious to the consumer and it will create a terrible lasting experience.
- Timing is key for managing expectations for a shopping mall setup. Users will want an awesome experience after waiting in a queue for like 30 minutes and the clients will want a high throughput so each experience will be short.
- Users are appreciative of good experience and are willing to share content online which is a plus for clients.
- Clients understand their consumer but they don’t understand VR. Thus you need to be an educator as well as a supplier.
- Experiences goes beyond the headset, so you need to build a complete package around the VR setup.
They introduced to us 3 types of experiences that they have created.
SNOW SLINGSHOT is a multiplayer snowball fight game that is one of the showcase items that we could try during the 2 days. With the simple gameplay and intuitive controls, it was very fun to compete against a friend. The short game time allows the crowd flow to move quickly. There were also features like a separate screen showing what the users are seeing and an overhead view. They also design a kiosk to allow the users to enter data which enables the system to send screenshots of the user playing to their email. It is a complete experience that we find very satisfying.
DINOSAUR VR is a really immersive and unique piece of work. Other than the nice graphics, it is special as it incorporates a rumble floor that shakes as the T-Rex approaches. There are people especially kids that get really scared by it and we would have loved to try it but unfortunately a rumble floor is too bulky to transport to Singapore.
FIELD OF PLAY is a rugby game which you have to play it like you do in real life. They got a national rugby league player to play it and challenge others to beat his score.