Like any self respecting forward thinking games studio preparing themselves for the oncoming demand of VR content we set about noting down a few principles and steps for how we plan to infuse the feature set of VR into our current and future projects.
Our current blockbuster (hopefully!) project we are currently developing on is a dystopian themed RPG that pulls you into a molten lava ridden end of the world scenario. The player enters the game as a religious deity on a quest to save as many souls from the crumbling earth before it is ultimately swallowed into the swirling mass of a black hole. As you gain more followers and save more souls your belief in yourself as a God grows and with it your supernatural powers. Experiencing the ability to manipulate the gravity of orbiting planets and manually erupt volcanoes from a first person perspective in VR is one that we are extremely excited to present to the world and also one that we have took much time to perfect. Prototyping for this type of experience is one that is still raw and relatively rudimental compared to creating experiences for a normal screen especially with the added constraints of FPS floors and drawcalls.
In order to refine our design process for VR we pass our iterations through 4 phases – Prototyping, Meshing, Lighting and Polish. With no real tool in existence yet for wireframing/prototyping in the VR space the process is still a disconnected experience of designing on screen and continually entering into the space via headset. This can be a time consuming and frustrating pipeline but until Unity complete their forthcoming VR design tool we have found the path of least resistance to be Google Sketchup. This tool allows us to create a visual language that can be refined and replicated to create large worlds from small duplicated assets thus reducing drawcall for greater FPS.
Utilising the 4 step design process we have crafted a beautiful world for the characters of our multimedia project Chrysalis to exist in. Targeting the game at the mobile space as well as a connected VR experience meant we really had to consider our approach to asset creation and reducing the number of drawcalls on 3D Objects. By opting for a very stylised minimal approach we were able to utilise very low poly models and textures to create a seamless experience whilst still retaining the ethereal aesthetics that we strived for.
Being able to translate this process into the oncoming demand for connected AR experiences is also mutually beneficial. Creating a visual language from smaller assets that duplicate and scale to create larger structures without increasing drawcall allowed us to create dynamic stadiums for use within our upcoming table football project for mobile. Utlilising AR technology the user will be able to play on screen or on a physical table top using QR markers to set the boundaries of the pitch and players.
Article lovingly embellished by Clarke Noone – Creative Director