Designing for Mobile VR with Chris Pruett

Blog Posts ,Events ,Software ,Virtual Reality
March 3, 2015

Only days after Oculus announced their Mobile VR Game Jam and Samsung revealed the second iteration of their Gear VR headset, the momentum around smartphone VR games at GDC continued. Robot Invader co-founder Chris Pruett discussed Dead Secret, an upcoming Gear VR murder mystery title, and the process for making the game VR-ready. Pruett, who also works for Oculus’s Developer Relations team, reviewed how Robot Invader rebuilt their game originally designed for tablets from the ground up to account for the differences that VR brings, noting that they had to change everything from the interface to the sound and monetization plan to account for the difference in play style.

Pruett covered a variety of places where tablet games needed to change to create successful virtual experiences, particularly around game play and storylines. Because of the immersive nature of VR, character behaviors and environment interactions needed to be simplified, though in the case of Dead Secret, this was countered with a more complex environment. Pruett went on to mention how building mobile VR impacted the overall storyline of Dead Secret, noting that the experience of reading in VR, complicated due to the stereoscopic rendering on HMDs, requires a reduction in the overall word count of in-game overlays and resulted in storyline changes from the game’s original plot – a side effect that will likely impact many developers and studios looking to adapt existing titles to the Gear VR or similar mobile platforms.

As Oculus and Samsung make the push to get more content on the Gear VR platform, we’ll likely be seeing more mobile games begin making the transition from traditional smartphone or tablet forms into mobile VR. For new games coming out, Unity and Unreal have both announced improvements to their Oculus mobile integration, and there are still plenty more virtual reality sessions and events in the pipeline for the rest of GDC, including three additional augmented and virtual reality roundtable discussions for developers and industry experts.

Dead Secret is slated for release this year for both the Samsung Gear VR and as a non-VR game. You can sign up for updates on their release on their website here, and follow Pruett on Twitter @c_pruett.

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