Victor is a Swedish, post-rock drummer who also makes indie VR games at Invrse. His company recently released The Nest: Multiplayer on Steam (full disclosure, I too work at Invrse, but not on this project).
I’m Victor and I will answer your questions after I’ve had some dinner. This is my first AMA and I’m excited to talk to ya’ll
I was writing up an introduction here
@everyone it’s time to start!
I’ll start by letting you know a couple of personal things about me. I’m from Stockholm, Sweden, but I live in Seattle. I have no background in computer science or a college degree, but I decided that I want to work with VR and game technology, and I’ve worked hard to be able to do what I do 🙂
@Ian P We just recently soft launched the multiplayer, and the video is more of a preview of one of the classes that you can play. I tend to spend more time focusing on the game than the pancake presentation of it, I guess. Your point about music made me cringe a little though, I find that important. I will probably record a few more gameplay videos of the other classes, since your second question was regarding locomotion.
We have several methods of locomotion in the game. The player with the “grappling hooks” is playing as Slinger, where as the Sniper has a long reach grappling hook, as well as a teleportation grenade. I should mention that the Slinger locomotion method is far from a grappling hook. I see it as high tech ski poles 😉
Have you made prototypes with music? I know a lot of games don’t have music simply because listening to the sound effects is so important. That’s why a lot of racing sims don’t have music, or when they do, that have to iterate a lot to make sure the instruments don’t interfere with the sounds that your tires make, for example.
“Long reach” climbing would be another explanation
There’s also another optional method of locomotion, which you can opt into. It goes by the name of InvrseMotion, but the prototype name was human joystick 😃
@Livio I built a game jam prototype called “Drums of War”, which instead of being a guitar hero, you’re the battle commander, commanding archers to fire arrows at ships
Let me find a video
hehe that’s cool. But I was wondering if you made prototypes for the Nest that had music
If a developer wants to get into VR, what hardware would you recommend? I would prefer likelihood of longevity or expansion. I’ve only played with a Vive recently and had a blast.
you went to globabl game jam at the science center, right? I plan to go there for the next GGJ
My stance towards music in competitive games is two fold. I want music, but in VR, audio is your best friend when it comes to explaining actions to the player, and having 8 players shoot bullets and a really good song playing at the same time is hard to convey in a mix. The choice I’ve made is that it’s hard enough to find music that suits the game, and almost everyone that plays it, and the time/money it takes to aquire the licenses or write it from scratch is almost not worth it
However, I do have a feature that involves an actual record player in the level.
“Hey Victor, go turn on the music will you”
It’s easier to distinguish (and not feel annoyed by) when you ground the music in the world, instead of playing it as a stereo track
@Brandon Anderson I’m a huge fan of the Vive and SteamVR as an SDK
The rift does some neat things though, but all in all Rift vs Vive, I rate Vive as the best device
That is me as a developer though
As a consumer, I would just base it on what kind of current games I want to play, and how much money I have
I’ve recently been trying out windows MR, and I must say that the ease of use is making it a tough contender
You just plug the HMD to your computer, and run through a quick setup and you’re done
They also come with some improved features, depending on which model you buy
The acer headset I have flips up, so that you can look at the screen
The Samsung Oddysey has a higher res screen than any other, and is said to be very comfortable
And best of all: THey work with SteamVR!
Awesome, thank you! I’ve been considering a Vive, but maybe once I’m not a student. I feel cost to entry is a little rough.
@Brandon Anderson If you’re mostly using the Device to prototype and learn, then I would vote with my wallet
Next year we’ll be seeing more devices, and I believe most of them will have nice little upgrades from current gen
if you find yourself having to buy a new phone, you could get one that’s VR-compatible, such as one of the Samsung Galaxy phones or the Google Pixel. They may even come with a free VR casing for it. It’s not as cool as high-end VR but it’s something
@Livio It definitely is. However, I do consider the workflow to be better for tethered PC VR
I’m very excited about Oculus Go
I would recommend to watch Carmack’s talk from Oculus Connect if you want first hand details about it. The most significant thing, in my mind, is the ease of use
You just put it on, like a cap
There’s no PC, no cable, and you don’t need to strap your phone into a holster, fiddling with headphones and accidently pushing the wrong buttons on it
Carmack calls it something along the lines of “friction”
And the less of it, the better
There is unfortunately no positional tracking, it’s still just rotational IMU with a neck model
But it will have a second generation lens, and 2xLCD screens which is an interesting choice
I’m actually not sure if it will have IPD adjusment… something that is very important for a good experience
Some people can get cross-eyed, even a little nauseous if the set IPD is far from their own
Yeah, I helped setup the Vive for this volunteer thing. We had some hardware settings messed up and it was causing a huge fps drag. I got super motion sick. That’s always been a hold up for me. After cooling down for a bit and us finding the problem, it was very enjoyable. Your drums of war game looks like a lot of fun!
@Brandon Anderson I’m definitely fighting performance and buggy tools more doing VR than pancakes, but it’s worth it 😃
You can still download the game from GGJ’s website if I’m not mistaken
Simulator sickness can be a show stopper. I once played a player made map in Climbey, it had ice almost everywhere (which makes you slide around), and for 15min of playtime I had to lay down in a couch for almost two hours before I felt 100% again
The VR playerbase is rather split atm. There’s a hard core group (and i think it’s getting bigger) that enjoy all kinds of artificial locomotion, and then there’s everyone else who either aren’t used to the medium, or are sensitive to the vestibular disconnect
And for the time being, offering different forms of locomotion is important, unless teleport is used as a good mechanic
I personally don’t like teleportation, it doesn’t give me the same sense of scale
But if used as a powerful ability, it can be cool to use, just like it would be teleporting in real life
I don’t know what the game was called, but it had an elevator and a plank at the top. There was a level that allowed a rocket and you could fly around and I thought was just brilliant
“Richie’s plank experience”
I’m assuming you played that and you felt fine?
That’s the one!
Yeah it was great
Victor do you have any plans for what you’ll work on after The Nest Multiplayer
When done right I think being able to traverse these worlds in non human ways is amazing
I have some prototypes I’d like to build. Assymetrical gameplay (1 player in VR, his couch friends on their phones) interests me
I would like to work on a more experienced team, since this is something that I’ve yet to experience. I’m a good learner when being part of a dedicated group, and I think I could do well to be the “junior” for once
I never really got to that point, it was kind of “experiment, game jams, learn, experiment, PRODUCTION”
My first job in the industry was as an Unreal Engine for VR instructor here in seattle
I had students that had 15 years or more experience at microsoft/amazon etc, and it was great being able to teach them what I knew
It also taught me that technology is very recent, and that there are many opportunities if you work on the edge
For the most part the exploration and wild wild west of it all is what drives me
I prototyped a way to make tutorials in Unreal last week, where I’m able to essentially motion capture the VR player, his voice and the “spawned” mechanics (FX, projectiles etc)
And I have never seen anything like that before 😃
You can see the simple version of it in The Nest atm, but the plan is to make the tutorials interactive this way.
The “Sequences” are recorded in world space (if you want), and you can edit them just like an animation track. As well as control them in real time. Which means that I can check if player made it to the platform, and if so, play the next section of the turorial
And all I have to do to record, is to actually “act” and play the class (slinger/sniper/TBA)
Something like that would take a full motion capture studio, and tons of scripted events/audio to accomplish
Victor I know you live on a boat. Can you do VR development from there? Does it amplify the possibility for VR sickness?
This is true! (the boat). I do quite a fair bit of my work from here now, and our boat has a rounded hull (old design) so we tend to move a little more than a v-hulled boat. This is however not a problem for me.
You got a stomach of steel
I have a theory that people with good balance doesn’t get simulator sickness as easy (from locomotion, tracking making your head float away etc). Bad performance still makes me sick
any last questions for Victor before we run out of time?
You can always PM me later, I’m also active on the UnrealSlackers discord
Lol 12 years in the Navy and I never got my sea legs. Constantly sick hahaha
I like to help out with Unreal problems if the questions are detailed
Good on you though for doing it on a boat
Well it’s not like I have 6′ waves rolling constantly xD
I have a fun design where I want to use vive trackers and proprietary controllers to make a boat simulator game, using the actual wheel and dash
I would even model the engine room below, and have engine problem mechanics that you have to fix
Thanks Victor, for taking the time to talk with us. 😃
Thanks Victor! I’m excited to see more of your work!
Our next AMA will be on Thursday with Keegan O’Rourke, artist/generalist at Strange Loop Games. He’s currently working on the award-winning game Eco.
FB/Twitter posts below:
I was busy with work during most of this AMA, but just going through I have a few footnotes:
– HMD = head-mounted display – the part of VR hardware that gets strapped to your face
– The Vive really does seem to be the favorite headset among the entire developer community. However, the PSVR is the highest selling high-end VR experience right now among consumers, but it’s harder to develop for because it involves buying an expensive PlayStation Dev Kit and registering with Sony as someone who intends to do business with them. Doesn’t lend itself as well to explaratory devs who just want to make silly prototypes.
– Steam VR is the main SDK for making Unity or Unreal games for the Vive. Just drag-and-drop it into your project, and it works! The fact that all the headsets that Victor mentioned work with SteamVR makes developing for them all pretty convenient, since you don’t have to re-learn stuff just to support different headsets.
– “positional tracking” vs “rotational IMU w/ neck model” = High-end VR headsets support positional movement, meaning you can literally take a step forward in real life and your in-game after will also move forward (or at least, your virtual head will move forward). Cheaper headsets only support gyroscope rotation, much like your phone does, which allows you to look at 360 images for example but doesn’t let you “move” within the world, only rotate.
– IPD adjustment = every VR headset has lenses in front of the digital screen, and you can easily configure the distance between those lenses to adjust to your personal eyesight.
Also Victor brought up a great point about wanting to work with more experienced devs. One of the downsides of working on a VR startup / indie game studio before building up any experience is that you miss out on the chance to learn from coworkers who are much more experienced than you in your profession.