Director of production Studio Experiment 7 Corey Cypher about the experience of creating projects. VR is a young and constantly changing part of the gaming industry, but it already formulates the basic principles of game development that differs from traditional.
Over VR games I work four years. First collaborated with Impeller Studios, then AR/VR group Autodesk, but the most significant experience gained at the current position. During this time I made some terrible mistakes that haunt my dreams, and I want to tell you about them.
Why share knowledge with potential competitors. Importantly for the industry today — to as many of the teams did a great VR game. Then more users will take the VR platform and bonuses developed market will benefit all of us. As Tesla shares his best techniques and discoveries with peers to advance their industry, I hope our exchange of ideas will benefit VR.
The developers of traditional projects has the experience, best practices and instructive stories, effectively guides their efforts. Transitions of users from one platform to another has happened in the past and we know. What works on a PC may not work on consoles due to the difference in performance, controllers or consumer expectations. So the product is always slightly adapt to the new media.
VR also is a complete paradigm shift. Often you need to update best practices and solutions, and to unlearn what we have learned. Camera movement in first person may cause the player nausea. A fundamental rethinking of the basics of creating a user experience and interface.
Its completely unlike prior methods. I do not like long scroll detailed lists, so here are the seven key “pillars” articles so you can assess whether to spend time on it.
Gathering the team for VR-project, should be stronger than in traditional games rely on the engineering part. The best option is to invite a more experienced developer than usual. The increase in the number of engineers is not directly proportional to the acceleration of the development and improvement support. But every problem that you will face, will demand new solutions, and these risks should be minimized.
Even if you use a proven commercial engine, in VR everything from design features to optimize, is time consuming and has a steep “learning curve”. New nodes appear, but very few people in the industry have a considerable VR experience to navigate. So I suggest to scale the engineering team:
If the game has a fixed budget, it may be necessary to reduce the number of artists. One of the mitigating factors — stereoscopic rendering requires twice shortchange picture. Game one level in VR unable to pass through the render fewer pixels.
Therefore, the requirements for VR content is lower than for other platforms. We can remember past generations of console games and their art piece. Low density assets, “tolerantnost” is VR in its current state. Under ideal conditions, I recommend to have a small VR art team with senior artists who love new technological challenges, and several technical artists, inspired by the new platform.
The good news is that the best engineers are attracted to new technological problems and great artists — new ways of expression. This can be used in order to get your organization fantastic frames.
You can read about the technical constraints and technology, but do not think that you can create a successful game without the advice of a specialist, already produces a commercial VR project. You need someone who is focused on solving the problems of the platform. Of course, he could be a freelancer or a hired consultant, but it is best if this requirement is one of the key members of the team. Well, if this person works in the engineering part of the company.
Even better if the VR-expert — the head of the engineering team. This will allow him to broadcast experience with the platform to his subordinates and to communicate lessons learned and challenges to everyone who is working on the technological side of the game. Experiment 7 — lucky, because our technical Director Mario Grimani worked with VR since its inception. One of our engineers participated in development of VR-solutions open source.
Ive worked on some early VR prototypes in Autodesk. This experience (often limited to understanding what is not working on the platform) became the key to the success of our team. Due to the volatile nature of the VR, it was even deeper than the knowledge of traditional transitions between gaming platforms.
New technology captures and VR — especially. It is therefore vital pre-production to allow time for planning, prototyping and testing. You cant just jump “into the jaws” of the project, too inspired. Follow the phases of your plan.
Develop and improve the idea, the visual part of the project, how he felt, and create prototypes to pre-production stage (this will take longer than you expect, especially the first time). The study of a new software pipeline (pipeline) for VR-sets of assets — a considerable task, start to do it in the early stages. If you delay until the production stage, you will have to spend time training and working environment, and instead of developing great features and content you are going to patch the hole, altering key system.
Make sure that each phase you are actively creating prototypes even for trusted mechanic. We decided to start with a small project, a chess game so easily integrated Chess engine and used assets from Unity store to test the idea of Board games in VR. Even in this abbreviated form revealed many problems and opportunities at the core of our design and expectations from the technology. The complexity (and significant lost opportunities) would bring a lot of troubles, putting aside we overcome them to the end of the project.
Also drop the time to build the infrastructure at the stage of pre-production. You cant just buy a few computers and tables. Depending on the VR platforms will have to track various combinations of hardware and software, especially given the range of hats (from quarterly emerging innovations). Particularly difficult may be the infrastructure of the Department to check the quality of the VR projects.
For VR frame rate is more important than precision. It greatly affects the overall user experience. High frame rate of more than 90 FPS provides a “smooth” experience. If it falls below — this can lead to feelings of discomfort among the players and deprive you of much of the audience.
No matter how active you are scaling the required memory and processing power (the content is often beyond the budget), but make sure that obschityvanie their assets enough to stock more than you need. The new platform is unstable, rapidly changing and evolyutsioniruet. You can calculate everything so that a local failure not demolishing the whole game.
Users will bring their hardware up to a monstrous state. Test the project as if the player has installed tons of apps that consume RAM and processor resources. If you are developing for multiple platforms — take a sample of the least productive of them. This is not a trivial task, requiring business, technical and creative solutions.
Let this be the most important paragraph in the list of priorities. Realistic proportions, movement and physical interaction is critical to create the effect of presence in virtual reality. The content out of the world, can look intimidating and inappropriate, and users will experience cognitive dissonance. The same applies to unusual gravity, “viscosity” or friction.
Doorways, Windows, tables, chairs and other basic physical objects from the real world particularly affected by this phenomenon. For games with a realistic world, everything is simple — you need to compare the sizes of things. This is a limiting factor, but also a creative challenge, leading to dynamic and innovative methods of solving problems.
During pre-production, try to set realistic proportions immediately and constantly test them in the “white room”, to later do not have to recycle assets. With “customized”, realistic basis assets is much easier to make the user feel comfortable in your surroundings. One of the key principles of VR (especially in our time only installed the consumer market). Comfort is key.
It must be followed to ensure your audience is acceptable gaming experience. If you make a card game for the General public — make sure that frame rate it very high, contrast is quite low and you do not accelerate or not move the character without the aid of a system of tracking movements of the player. If you make a hardcore flight simulator with free movement and continuous explosions of shells — you have to take the bar higher, but the basic principles remain the same, they always have to keep in mind.
Know that every time you reduce the comfort of the user the new features, you will scare away the majority of players and probably the strike on its brand and reputation. Find the point and build everything from it. In VR so many unknowns, especially now, that we need a whole new take on the “conveyor” process and technology to bring to market something noticeable.
It is a virtual reality. Yes, we need to think broadly and dream. However, the best advice at this stage. Take a small piece of your dream and make it the first VR release.
Let the product come to market (any) and get into preproduction of your second game in the form of acquired knowledge. Use this experience in the team to work effectively and achieve a much higher level than in the first draft. This is one of the principles to which we adhere in E7.
Starting with a small game Table for Chess, we made something more in the second draft, and now loom very large game. Each new step helps you work faster, it is better to concentrate on the experience, not the infrastructure and to raise the bar of quality. Flexible mantra, is particularly well suited for rapidly evolving platforms. It may seem that its a cliche, but it works.
Software and hardware is constantly and significantly evolving. Before meeting with investors, has released a new version of the platform, it turns out that the cables are poorly connected and the background processes are included during the game, which it gives one frame per second. You are unlikely to completely avoid such situations, but the knowledge that something can shake your perfectly planned project can soften the blow when it is still going to happen.
In addition to unexpected critical failures, if you work with a commercial game engine or the hardware part of the platform, be prepared that you more often have to adjust to their new versions. If you want to write the material for the rubric “the Market” tell us about the development of your game or in case of its growth to send the material on [email protected]