Virtual Reality is virtually here
At Capcom Vancouver we're always wanting to make sure we look ahead to what the future of games could offer. Whether that's getting out into the local community to talk to the next generation of game developers or checking out the newest technology we like to keep at least one finger on the pulse of the industry.
With multiple Virtual Reality (VR) platforms launching this year, including the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, we decided that the Consumer Virtual Reality Expo in our hometown of Vancouver was a great chance to take a look at what is possible today and in the future.
Though we are not working on a virtual reality project six of our developers attended the show and here's what they thought about what they got to try.
Alec Brady (Sound Artist): I got to try out the Vive for the first time which very much exceeded my expectations. The controller was shockingly easy to use and I was able to adapt to the environment and move things around effortlessly in no time at all. It really opens up a whole new dimension for designers and artists to create worlds within! We also attended a number of talks discussing the technical, social and creative implications of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technology.
Jenny Chu (Software Engineer): Seems like a fair amount of people believe that VR is definitely going to be the next iPhone, in terms of public adoption rate, along with self-driving cars. My favourite things – the demos (when I was able to fight through the crowd to get a spot for them) and talks that involved solid demos/tech backings. Since the technology is fairly new, a lot of talks were littered filled with the speaker or the panel’s “feelings” or “speculations” regarding where it could take us. Nevertheless, it was very inspiring to see that VR is being used not just in games/cinematics, but also in commerce, education and therapy.
Victor Chow (Software Engineer): VR head gear at public displays presented a unique personal hygiene issue. If the device isn’t cleaned with a sanitizing wipe, your basically putting on someone’s facial flora. A few companies offered disposable headgear “balaclavas” that provided a “Kleenex/tissue” layer. They are similar to “mouth masks” that are popular with some Asian cultures when someone is sick. The headgear balaclava was functional but looked pretty silly.
Dylan Hunter (Technical Artist): There was a lot of excitement at the conference to be sure, pretty much everything in the expo had long lines of people wanting to try everything from Meditation apps, to northern lights 360 vids to a fully tracked, high intensity arena shooter. As a VR enthusiast, I walked away with some interesting nuggets of information, (especially with regards to psychology, education and social interaction) and some truly insightful perspectives on where it is going.
— Akshay B. (@AkshayB) May 15, 2016
Jon Wiedemann (Software Engineer): I spent some time interacting with some of the student game jam projects. They were able to get some pretty cool demos put together for VR, and everyone I talked to running the booths were super excited to just talk about their games!
I’m not much of an artist, but Tilt Brush was a really cool way to draw and just play around with the different brush tools and effects. My demo was only 5 minutes long, but I could totally see myself spending hours with it.
I talked with some of the developers at Archiact Interactive about some of the projects they were working on for the VRcade. VRcade is a really interesting concept, which is intended to be something like a Laser Tag arena, but using wireless VR headsets, motion capture camera and props with sensors on them to track their position in VR. The cool thing was they had a co-op first person shooter demo with real fake guns! I didn’t have a chance to try it because it was so popular and the line was pretty big, but my wife said “Now that’s the kind of VR I want!”.
Mark Schiemann (Software Engineer): Overall, in my opinion VR experiences are going to be a massive part of our lives in the not too distant future. It’s just going to take a bit of experimentation to figure out exactly which technology will win out though.
Akshay Balakrishnan (Software Engineer): To me, that was the best demo on the floor. 15 minutes was perfect to get a good understanding of the game, and they had multiple stations and handled appointments well.
The next best one was foundry10, an non-traditional-education company that uses VR in the classroom… their booth simply had the Vive setup and a Steam account and let people try any game they wanted for a few minutes. You could try out TiltBrush in there and see the art project one of their students had done with an hour alone in the app… it was amazing to look at, probably even better through the goggles