Virtual Reality Reviewer ask some of the industry’s leading developers and personalities 20 questions.
This week we chat to E McNeill developer of the upcoming game Darknet.
State Your Name:
What is your current Job / Role ?
I’m an indie game dev. I do design, programming, and everything else it takes to put a game together. Right now I’m working on the Gear VR launch title Darknet.
What are you most famous for ?
My old game Auralux is pretty popular on mobile, but I don’t know if that qualifies me as “famous”!
What is currently on the desk in front of you ?
A Fallout 3 bobblehead (swag from my time working in QA at Bethesda Softworks), a cobra statuette (a souvenir from a trip to Morocco), a box of Kleenex (I’m getting over a cold), lots of game dev equipment, and an empty can of Diet Sunkist.
What was your first VR experience ?
I vaguely recall playing a bulky Western-themed VR shooter at a mobile arcade exhibit long ago, but that felt so distant from current VR experiences that it almost seems like a totally different technology from what we have now.
Did you feel any sim sickness or do you ever feel any sim sickness ?
For me, sim sickness has usually been my own fault! On a few different occasions I’ve knocked myself out of commission when testing my own VR experiments. Aside from that, a few games have gotten me sick due to judder or violent player movement, but I generally consider myself pretty well-acclimated to VR.
What’s the longest amount of time you have spent in VR in one play session ?
I spent about 3 hours in VR when I was a guest on Virtually Incorrect in RiftMax. That was tough with a DK1.
What’s the strangest experience you have had with VR ?
I once saw the screen door effect in real life! I was looking out at my apartment’s balcony, through the scr– oh… nvm, not strange.
What’s the funniest experience you have had with VR ?
I quite enjoyed the end of my appearance on Virtually Incorrect, when all of the guests and audience members spontaneously jumped out onto the conference table and started an impromptu VR rave.
What game or hardware device are you currently working on ?
I’m currently developing Darknet for the Gear VR (and, eventually, the Oculus Rift). I have one of the coveted early hardware units! I’m enjoying this very brief window of time in which I can feel special about that.
Do you have a release date in mind for your project ?
Darknet should be available as soon as the Gear VR is released.
What is the biggest surprise you have had since you started to work in VR ?
The feeling of presence. Presence seems like the perfect buzzword: subjective, poorly-defined, designed for hype. I try to be somewhat skeptical, in general, and so I withheld judgment about “the magic of presence” for a long while. But once I felt it, in the Crescent Bay demo at Oculus Connect, it was unmistakable, and very surprising. I want more.
If you could only choose one game from your childhood to be remade for VR what would it be ?
I’m not a big fan of the idea of VR remakes in general, but I admit, I’d kinda love to wander around the world of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Besides games what do you think will be the most useful application for VR ?
I think that VR will be useful for training purposes (imagine tinkering under the hood of a car in a VR application), although that will still be limited until haptics are figured out.
What advice would you give to people on how to get into VR development ?
First, get into game development in general! The tools are simple enough now that “VR” is not the hardest part. The hard part is inventing anything that’s truly worth spending time on.
What is your favorite VR related movie ?
Probably The Matrix, although I think I’d also nominate Code Hunter for the “pretty bad but still underrated” award.
If you had a crystal ball and could see 10 years into the future what developments in VR do you think will have happened?
10 years is too long for accurate predictions. But I’d guess that sight and sound in VR will essentially be “solved”, while touch and locomotion will still be areas of active R&D.
Outside of VR what do you do to relax ?
Recently, I’ve been enjoying the recent explosion of good TV. I’m just finishing up Breaking Bad!
What’s your current favorite VR experience that you have not developed your self ?
A lot of the Gear VR games are surprisingly polished. It’s hard to name a favorite, but if I have to name one, I’ll go with Esper for now.
Sum up how you feel about Virtual Reality in 6 words or less ?
Too cool to fail.