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The realities of Virtual Reality

April 08, 2016

VR the champion, my friend...
- Queen singing about virtual reality


Unless you were living under a rock for the past months, you might be aware that VR is the hot topic everyone is talking about.

Cool, but you are an indie. What are you supposed to do with VR?
Should you fork out a smaller fortune on the rig and jump on the bandwagon? 
Will it make your creative juices flow?
Is it worth the effort? 

We, at PalmStorm will help you decide.
We have started experimenting with VR for a while and let me tell you, VR is a strange beast.

If you are doing it right, VR is so cool you won't believe it.
Occasionally it's annoying: cables and discomfort all around. Not very user-friendly.
Sometimes it is downright nasty: nausea and vertigo kicks in. Be sure to have your "hangover survival kit" at hand.

And most importantly: it makes you look really weird.

Silly Dev


Don't worry though! 
I'll share our experiences with you in weekly posts, so you are safe from the pitfalls and focus on the awe-inspiring stuff.

Let's get started then!

 

Lesson #1. VR Needs YOU.
Oculus is out, SteamVR is out, so VR is not a daydreaming, theoretical stuff anymore. It is the reality (ahem...) 
VR games are being released, and finally we have genuine player feedback. Guess what - it is not very positive.

Player reactions are a restrained kinda interesting, occassionally cool, but none of the of the current games are insta-buy trend-setters of Doom or Mario caliber.
The reason for this dismissal is actually very simple. So simple, that in fact this is the root of all evil concerning all that is VR.

No one knows what would the best application for VR be.
Therefore, no one has created the Killer App yet.

A certain Mr Marshall McLuhan said wisely: the medium is the message.

If PC gaming is about hardcore and cutting edge ... 
If console gaming is about carefree and mainstream ...
If mobile gaming is about smooth and social ...

... then what would the message for VR gaming be? Immersed in things? Being free? Bending reality?
Well, to me it certainly sounds more like a drug manifesto from the sixties instead of a cool offer you couldn't refuse...

Due to this uncertainity, the current virtual reality games show a certain wonkiness and design infancy compared to the surgical precision designs found in ordinary gaming. Developers are still exploring the possibilities of VR.

This is where indies do fit in.

VR demands a fresh approach, because the Old Rules simply won't work.
Explore ideas! Be far-out! 

Next week I'll post about the three approaches we defined in search of the best usage for VR.
Stay tuned!

Yours truly, 

- Laszlo, CTO @ PalmStorm

Annoyed? Intrigued? Contact me.


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