Speaker Q&A: Jennifer Hazel on utilizing VR during exposure therapy

Jennifer Hazel is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry who founded the CheckPoint Organization and will be at VRDC 2017 to present her talk Virtual Reality for Treatment of Phobias, which will discuss current understanding of what makes a VR experience effective for phobia treatment from a psychological, physiological and technical point of view. Here, Hazel gives us some information about herself and her work.

Join creators of innovative VR, AR, and mixed reality technologies at VRDC Fall 2017.  Register by July 26 to save $400.

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Speaker Q&A: Trevor Blom on the development of Arizona Sunshine

Trevor Blom is lead programmer at Vertigo Games and will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Looking Back at the Development of ‘Arizona Sunshine’ and ‘Skyworld’, which will discuss the development of both games for VR using Unity. Here, Blom gives us some information about himself and his work.

Join creators of innovative VR, AR, and mixed reality technologies at VRDC Fall 2017.  Register by July 26 to save $400.

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Speaker Q&A: Hannah Gamiel on moving Obduction to VR

 

Hannah Gamiel is a Software Engineer at Cyan and will be at VRDC 2017 to present her talk ‘Obduction’, from 2D to VR: A Postmortem and Lessons Learned, and explore the triumphs and tribulations of the development of ‘Obduction’. Here, Gamiel gives us some information about herself and the future of consumer VR.

Attend VRDC Fall 2017 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR

My name is Hannah Gamiel, and I’m a programmer over at Cyan, Inc. (creators of Myst & Riven), based in Mead, WA. I’ve been working here at Cyan for 5 years and a lead on the Obduction team for the last two. I’ve helped bring our Desktop (PC & Mac), Vive, Rift, and soon to be PS4, PSVR, and Mac VR versions of Obduction to life, mostly working on major systems programming and audio engineering.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at VRDC

I’m hoping to talk about the production process from 2D to VR for Obduction, which had its initial 2D release in August 2016 and its initial VR release in the Fall of 2016. This includes sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of our 2D to VR transition. I think that sharing our development process could help developers who are thinking of doing the same thing to their game(s) learn from our successes and lay out a good foundation for the conversion, while at the same time avoid making the same mistakes we did.

What excites you most about VR/AR?

When it comes to VR/AR, I am most excited about how they’re both becoming more and more accessible to people around the world — especially with mobile VR/AR. The fact that there are some phones out there that can handle running a mobile game with VR support is pretty astounding.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to realizing VR/AR’s potential?

Keeping hardware accessibility in mind, I think that is currently the biggest hurdle that the AR/VR industry faces today — especially VR. Some consumers just can’t yet afford to purchase high-fidelity VR hardware, or hardware needed to support those VR devices. I think we’ll get there some day, but I like where the mobile AR/VR industry is already going in that situation.

How was the transition from developing a 2D game into VR?

Making a 2D game work well (and look good) in VR is a non-trivial process. Thankfully, the transition from developing Obduction from a 2D game into a VR game went smoother than we expected, considering that we built our 2D game with VR system(s) flexibility in mind. We have a really talented team who were able to think ahead, research well, code quickly, and make smart decisions that would make for a great VR experience on a small budget. With that being said, we still had our fair share of bumps in the road, during and after our initial VR release especially. For example, Cyan is known for crafting beautiful in-game worlds, but taking that vision from 2D to VR while maintaining the same kind of visual and performance fidelity we expected to have was tough. My talk will go into more detail about that, among other difficulties we encountered, and how we were able to mitigate those issues.

What was the hardest design challenge that you faced during production?

Personally, I think that the hardest design challenge we encountered during the production of Obduction was how we had to design (and market!) our game for two almost completely different audiences: one that has been playing our games since Myst came out, and another that is the emerging VR market. We have learned over the last 30 years Cyan has been a company and over the past several years of VR research that these two different audiences, with some exceptions, have almost completely different expectations of what our game should look and feel like. We were essentially designing a game for two completely separate generations of people who have vastly different gaming experiences. I’ll go into this more in my talk, but I think that the best and most satisfying part of this whole challenge was figuring out one of the most important similarities between the two audiences/play-styles that bridged the gap in our 2D & VR release(s) — navigation. Who knew that our 30-year old point-and-click/node-mode style navigation system that so many of our original fans are greatly familiar with would be one of the most comfortable ways to move around in VR? It’s realizations like that that made this design problem very, very interesting to solve.

Register for VRDC Fall 2017 to hear more about developing for VR from Hannah, and join other creators of amazing, immersive experiences at the premier industry event.

Speaker Q&A: Aldis Sipolins of IBM Research

Head of Virtual Reality and Game Design at IBM Research Aldis Sipolins will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Why Virtual Reality and Machine Learning are Good for Science, which will give us a first look at cutting-edge research using machine learning to enhance memory in VR. Here, Sipolins gives us some information about himself and what VR means for human research.

Attend VRDC Fall 2017 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

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Speaker Q&A: Tilt Brush’s Patrick Hackett

Co-creators of Tilt Brush Patrick Hackett and Drew Skillman will be at VRDC Fall 2017 to present their talk, Three Years of Tilt Brush, where they will discuss the origins of the popular VR application and how it came be developed. Here, Hackett gives us a bit of background on himself and Skillman, and offers his thoughts on the broader VR market.

Attend VRDC Fall 2017 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

VRDC: Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR

Drew and I are veterans of the game industry, Double Fine Productions being our alma mater.  At Double Fine we spent a good amount of time exploring game concepts with non-traditional hardware and we’re really excited about the Oculus Rift Kickstarter and the industry’s push toward VR.  We left Double Fine in 2014 to form a VR design and consulting company where, in addition to a series of various prototypes, came up with the idea for Tilt Brush, a VR painting application.

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