Ahead of Oculus Connect 6 (OC6), I attended the Oculus Launchpad and Start dinner tonight. I saw a ton of vibrant communication and hopes for the next few days. In no small order, developers were internationally based, from places such as Canada and New Zealand. I noticed a pattern of developers who seem to be holding full-time jobs all the while in pursuit of publishing an app to the Oculus Store.
The following is a write up from a friend, Kathryn Hicks, on the Danse blog. The link to the original is at the bottom.
Last week I attended the 5th Oculus Connect Conference held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. This two-day conference is held annually during the fall, which showcases the new virtual reality technology from Oculus. It was my second time attending, and it felt even better than the last one.
During the Keynote address, Zuckerberg announced a wireless headset that doesn’t need a cell phone, and an external computer. The Quest, a standalone headset with 6 degrees of freedom, touch controllers and is a potential game-changer for the VR industry. If you are familiar with the Rift and the Oculus Go, the Quest would be a marriage of the two. The Quest is scheduled to come out this spring and will be $399, and a lot of the Rift titles will be available on the Quest. While unfortunately, I was not able to try it, the feedback that I heard from others was positive. The tetherless aspect of the headset creates a more immersive experience and doesn’t feel confined. While the graphics capabilities of the headset are not as high as the Rift, they are good enough and don’t hinder the experience. Plus the optics, as well as the sound, have improved from the Oculus Go. On the downside, the Quest is reportedly top heavy and a denser headset than the Go, which I find the Go to be more substantial than the lightweight Rift. Since the Quest has four inside out cameras on the front of you, if you move the controllers behind you, you could potentially lose tracking. Hopefully, they will make these adjustments before it launches in the spring and add tracking on the strap. I can see much potential with the Quest, such as eSports, education, businesses, medical, engineering, set design; the list goes on. The possibilities are endless, and for the price point, it could substantially increase VR users. Considering that the Quest will be the price of most gaming consoles, without the need of television or home set up.
Walking around the conference was lovely, I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing people putting their full body into the Quest. The well-orchestrated design layouts and theme of the different experiences were terrific. It was a pleasure hearing eSports commentary and cheers as competitors go head to head playing Echo Arena and Onward. Seeing the VR community connect, share laughs, smile, and have a good time, warmed my heart. I enjoyed watching people play the Dead & Buried Quest experience in a large arena and seeing their digital avatars battle each other on screen. I can see more VR arenas being built specifically for the Quest, kind of like skate parks, or soccer parks, but with a sports stadium vibe.
While I was at the conference, I tried a few experiences like The Void – Star Wars Secrets of the Empire, which is a full sensory VR experience. You are an undercover Rebel fighter disguised as a Stormtrooper, as a user you get to interact with your teammates fully, feel, and smell the environment around you. It was a fantastic experience, and I would encourage others to try it at one of the nine locations.
Another experience I tried was the Wolves in the Walls a VR adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book and created by the company Fable. The audience explores parts of Lucy’s house to try and find hidden wolves in the walls. It was a more intimate experience, and Lucy’s performance felt pretty lifelike. The environments and character designs were beautifully portrayed. Overall it was an enjoyable VR experience.
I also played a multiplayer combat experience called Conjure Strike by The Strike Team. It’s an engaging multiplayer experience, which you can play as a different rock like characters that have different classes like an Elementalist, Mage Hunter, Earth Warden and more. The multiplayer session I had played was similar to capture the flag game. One player has to push a box toward the other side while the opposing player stops the player. It was a fun experience similar to that of Overwatch but in VR. The multiplayer mechanics were excellent, but some of the controls felt foreign to me. Overall it’s an engaging game that seems like it would be popular amongst most VR users.
While I didn’t get to play as many demos as I would have liked, I enjoyed the ones I experienced, especially The Void. It was the most immersive experience I tried, the few things I would change are: update the headset and enhance the outside temperature and wind strength.
I’m looking forward to more development put towards, the Quest and I’m optimistic about the future of VR. As a team member at The Danse, I am excited to work on projects utilizing immersive technology such as virtual & augmented reality. Also, to work in an industry, the is ever changing and improving. It’s nice coming back to the Oculus Connect Conference and see the community excited about the future of VR.
- Kathryn Hicks
via read the full version from the author’s website.
Design iteration when building for the Oculus Go
With 6 degrees of freedom headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, when working in Unreal or Unity3d, it takes only a push of the play button to test your application in the headset.
There are advantages to seeing your scene from within your headset such as how your first-person perspective is developing, checking performance metrics in HUD, checking in on rendering weirdness, or correcting for relative spacing. However, the constraint of having to deploy by building and running to the Oculus Go each time we needed to check something can lessen your appetite for quick checks like this. Besides, sometimes is not even necessary.
That’s why a quick way of iterating on your scene using traditional desktop inputs is nice. Typically duplicating a currently under-construction scene into two versions. One called “site tour” for example and another called “site tour desktop”. The naming convention splits up functionality so that when you need to test something using mouse and keyboard you quickly hop into the “site tour desktop” scene. Some example mappings include UI navigation with a pointer or locomotion. The UI navigation can be done using the left mouse button and cursor instead of shipping to Go and using the hand controller. The locomotion can be done using your keys ‘w’,’a’,’s’, and ‘d’, as is common to most FPS games, to move around the space and the mouse to click and drag to move your head instead of having to teleport.
Diving deeper on the locomotion example
By throwing on headphones and using a Fly script applied to the Main Camera to test quickly using WASD within the Unity editor, you’ll be able to check relevant aspects of your lighting, audio, animations, etc without needing to wear the Go.
yaw += Input.GetAxis(“Mouse X”) * lookSpeed;
pitch += Input.GetAxis(“Mouse Y”) * lookSpeed;
pitch = Mathf.Clamp(pitch, -90.0f, 90.0f);
transform.localRotation = Quaternion.AngleAxis(yaw, Vector3.up);
transform.localRotation *= Quaternion.AngleAxis(pitch, Vector3.left);
transform.position += transform.forward * moveSpeed * Input.GetAxis(“Vertical”);
transform.position += transform.right * moveSpeed * Input.GetAxis(“Horizontal”);
transform.position += transform.up * 3 * moveSpeed * Input.GetAxis(“Mouse ScrollWheel”);
For the purposes of testing out spatial audio, I’ve noticed it’s great––mimicking head movement by panning using the mouse x.
Turning to the Oculus Rift
For what it’s worth in a post that’s supposed to be about the Oculus Go design iteration loop. In progress with an Oculus Go app currently, I and a friend find the utility of swapping a project over to the Oculus Rift to be really helpful.
What this does for you is, allow you to take advantage of the Oculus Rift during Play Mode (in Unity) which gives way to much faster iteration time. Perfect for quick fixes to code and cohesion of various parts (for example, like Teleportation and UI).
Relationships Matter: Maximizing Retention in VR
There are many ways to measure success, but coming from the mobile world (push notification
strategy, the habit of retention mini-games, funnel analysis, making a real difference when multi-million userbases exist) Isabel talked about retention today.
When someone loves your app and comes back to it time and time again.
Make a great first impression
- pinpoint your magic
- get to that moment quickly
- guide people through their first experience
Share your personality
- create a tone and stay consistent
- rethink your interactions
- identify the pain points
- design against them / take advantage of them
Create a lasting connection
- make the right decisions early
First Contact – Bernie Yee
He focused on how VR can be really overwhelming and having someone acknowledge your actions can be really powerful.
The Significance Robot Waving – the way the robot waves to you at the beginning of the experience draws upon a universal sign. You know you’re supposed to wave back. The personality of your wave then comes out as well.
Wave Finding – Helped guide users through the experience the robot is helping to guide your
attention to where you should be going.
Nudge – Nudge your users patiently and with intent
Rick and Morty – Virtual Rick-ality
Establish a tone and be consistent
Against Gravity – Rec Room
Create a safe environment that people come back to
Minimizing trolling and harassment
“Whatever you are when your [organization] is small remember you’ll only be a larger version of that”
Making friends in Rec Room
Two people making friends in Rec Room is done by shaking hands with someone.
High fiving in Rec Room
Upshot: Create your values early and stick to your values ruthlessly.
Notes from OC4 Designing for Feeling – Robin Hunicke
Philosophy of Exploration and Design
Robin opened with her concept of triple E content (a play on AAA, disambiguated below) and extolled the value of figuring out where you want to go first
- Elegant Expressive and Emotional content (EEE)
- She presented a 2×2 matrix with high impact, low cost as the quadrant where most content aims… the problem, she expressed, was that the matrix leaves out elegance as a focal point
- Evolve concepts, tools, & solutions, to reduce cost & improve impact
- Evolve ux
- Expressive – Players Speak
Process & the Broad Applicability of EEE
Axes in her slide graphic included rational, eee, baroque, and scripted (e.g. Sims, Black ops)
- Test your concept like it isn’t your
- Throw away ideas
- Find the feeling in your idea (lock in on it)
- This is your secret sauce
- Test the prototype like it isn’t yours
- the prototype is different than what is on paper
- the process is what helps
Uncertainty is surpassed only by the effort that needs to go into it
For Luna she took inspiration for the design from a paper world feel, influenced by origami, and during the process she packed her mind with fairytales
Not everyone needs to get into hands-on design influences, but she
thought that making origami and the concepts and learning how the
tactile quality turned out were really informative I’ve definitely found with Project Futures: The Future of
Farming it’s really key to actually gain some influence from real world knowledge and folks that have built
constructs or structures that are going to lend to the look and feeling of the world space in the app. Namely
One important side note Robin dropped was that none of the characters in Luna have genders.
Other Random Notes
- Mood boards
- Luna started out as a PC and VR title from the beginning
- The demo and vision existed before the actual prototype (i.e. the hands
controlling the stars)
- Tested prototype part 2 and threw it away
- Music is integrated into the testing process with feeling at the center, namely, “what kind of feeling is it communicating?”
4 year process for Luna – started out as a drawing in a book
- They went through a massive phase where no VR was implemented, then in November 2016 it came to life in VR (7 person
- By 2017 the pieces are starting to become cohesive and informed by the feeling
Fail Forward was key, it takes a lot of work.
Have to lean into the idea of interesting different challenging titles
UPSHOT = Diverse and inclusive teams, failure is ok, and the belief that you’re
going to get there. Leads to the triple EEEs and successful titles.