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Gdc Update

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#1 Matthew Craig

    Technical Director

  • 867 posts
  • LocationVancouver, BC

Posted 01 April 2013 - 04:42 PM

Just returned from GDC and wanted to share my experience with the MechWarrior community. Firstly Wow what an amazing GDC and an amazing time to be part of the gaming industry.

This was the year that VR stole the show, many of you are probably already aware of the Oculus Rift if not take a moment to Google it and come back… ok, this was without doubt one of the most popular booths this year, as many people stood in line for hours for their first glimpse at this new VR experience.

The two key questions most people had were “Is it any good”? And “Is it a breakthrough or a gimmick”? I’d like to share with you my impressions as I was lucky enough to get to try the Oculus out for a few brief minutes. In answer to the first question is it any good, the simple answer is yes it’s by far the best consumer VR device I’ve ever experienced which isn’t to say that it’s perfect but most importantly (IMHO) it crosses the line of viability that all previous devices have so far failed to cross.

Nate Mitchell and Michael Abrash both gave excellent talks outlining the challenges of VR but also just as importantly conveying why VR is not just a gimmick. This summarized down to the fact that games have always been about immersion and VR represents a significant leap forward in this respect. This leap as Nate Mitchell described opens up new ‘experiences’ that we can provide players and fundamentally changes the way that games can engage the player.

To offer just one simple example imagine going on Google Earth and navigating data on the Coliseum in Rome, not particularly interesting. Now consider navigating that same data in VR and feeling like you’re actually walking around the Coliseum with your friends, the data is the same but changing your level of immersion with that data fundamentally changes the way you experience it.

More importantly once you've had those experiences you don’t want to go back to a lower level of immersion, after all why would you; it would be like going back to having only 2D games. I personally agree that this is the fundamental reason why VR is not a gimmick.

There’s also understandably a lot of skepticism whether it will truly happen this time, sitting in the VR talks this year all I can say is that, the talks were incredibly popular and sitting amongst the sheer wealth of talent that the game industry has to offer and sensing how excited the development community as a whole is to rise to and surpass the challenges of VR. I could only get the sense that Palmer Luckey has succeeded in cracking open the door to VR with a platform that, now viable, the entire gaming industry can descend on and rapidly work to unlock its full potential.

What initially drew me into the games industry was playing games like MechWarrior during the early days of 3D and seeing a window into these virtual worlds and getting excited to create more like them. I feel extremely fortunate to be doing exactly that working on MechWarrior Online.

I and I’m sure many others are also extremely grateful to Palmer Lucky for creating a platform that now affords the possibility of really entering those worlds and sharing that same experience with a wider audience. As Michael Abrash discussed the challenges remaining on the path to truly exceptional VR are legion, but at the same time the industries passion and talent to surmount those challenges is equally formidable.

As if to illustrate this point Joe Ludwig from Valve spoke next about their work porting TF2 to the Oculus and demonstrated exactly Michael Abrash’ point, that in a very short period of time a talented member of the industry had run with the device and graciously shared with the larger community how to do the same.

Looking at the breadth of talent in the room it only further illustrated that VR now lies in the hands of the game development community and the talent now able to bear down on the challenges Michael Abrash outlined is immense just as were the problems presented.

Here you can see me getting a chance to try out the Oculus

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And thanks again to Nate Mitchell and Palmer Luckey for the time they were able to spare us during what was a very busy conference for them.

Omid Kiarostami and I with Palmer Luckey (Oculus Inventor) just after the talks by Michael Abrash and Joe Ludwig

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We also had a very busy and successful GDC and during the career fair talked to over 500 applicants and again seeing the amount of talent the industry has to offer and the passion for MechWarrior was just fantastic.

Russ and Bryan were also swamped by media, so look forward to lots of updates on all things Mech in the weeks ahead. As last year we return invigorated by seeing how much love there is for MechWarrior and we look forward to delivering more and more content with every patch.
It truly is a fantastic time to be a part of the gaming community, speaking of which as mentioned we are hiring so head over to our spiffy new website (thanks Kyle) to add to our applicant list if you think you have what it takes.

So will MechWarrior have Oculus support? you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

See you on the Battlefield

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