June 3, 2016
We just released The Night Cafe: A VR Tribute to Van Gogh for free on the Steam store. This includes support for both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Up until now it was only available on the Gear VR store where FastCo Design said, “The Night Cafe allows you to walk into a Vincent van Gogh painting. And it looks incredible.”
May 13, 2016
I decided to take some time off from developing our next game to get The Night Cafe working with Vive. This experience was originally designed for seated or standing VR without motion controls, although from the beginning I had considered adding support for the Razer Hydra back before motion controls were readily available.
The Night Cafe is a very passive experience in that there is not much direct interaction with characters or objects, although you do have complete freedom of movement within the small cafe space. While it would be great to get more interaction with objects in a future version, for now I just wanted to focus on getting the movement mechanics working well enough to get around comfortably using room scale. This experience is fairly well suited for room scale because it is a small space to begin with, although once I started moving around I realized it would require quite a lot of movement of the player’s space within the virtual space in order to cover the full environment. As a result, I decided a simple teleportation mechanic would be most effective given its wide spread adoption in many Vive experiences.
February 29, 2016
It will be interesting to see which version of VR becomes more widely adopted. Each have their advantages and disadvantages and each has content that is better suited to that experience. Ultimately I believe room scale will become an important feature amongst the many others such as hand tracking, outward facing cameras, positional head tracking, basic haptics, screen resolution and refresh rate, portability, and then later things like eye tracking, facial expression capture, and the many other advanced technologies that have yet to be developed.
January 31, 2016
When thinking about the metaverse you have to consider many factors — accessibility, content availability, interface, social infrastructure, privacy options, and personal expression among many others. If you take it one step at a time you can start to come up with likely scenarios. I had begun the thinking process with an experience in mind akin to MySpace, Squarespace, or Facebook. These are all tools that are (or were) used for some kind of personal expression to be shared on the web. There is of course a distinction to be made between social networks and web site creation tools like Squarespace but they share a lot in common as well. At their core, they make sharing things on the internet very easy and at a low or no cost.
December 16, 2015
A quick update about what’s been going on at Borrowed Light. I’ve been focusing all my efforts on our next VR experience, a game that will be announced early in the new year. There is procedural generation involved so a lot of time has been spent figuring out what techniques work best for the unique style of gameplay. Most procedural level generation techniques seem to be geared towards sprawling dungeons — which is not exactly what we needed — I’m looking for tighter level layouts which means there can’t be a bunch of empty space surrounding each room, instead I want there to be a compactness to the floor plan. I’ll be going into more detail about my approach in a later post.
In addition to that, I’m starting on designs and concepts for the characters and environments. It’s been a process of prototyping and revising before getting to any kind of visual design stage. I think it’s so important to nail your core mechanic before getting into this phase so that’s been my primary goal.
I am also hoping to do a post on the “rapidly exploring random tree” algorithm I’ve been putting together for the NPC characters. A lot to come in 2016! We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.
In the meantime, happy holidays from Borrowed Light!
November 2, 2015
I went to see a performance of Sleep No More over the weekend and I thought I would write about my experience because I think it’s pretty relevant to VR storytelling. Sleep No More is a play that takes place in a large 5 floor space where the audience can walk through and see the performaces around them without any guidance. The concept of a dynamic performance that unfolds around you is something that VR could potentially do very well. I didn’t know what to expect and I assumed it would be difficult to tell a coherent story in this way. I thought I would walk around and get bits and pieces of the story and that’s about it.
October 19, 2015
This is the second and final part of the Making of Night Cafe series. For part 1 click here.
Unity and Scene Construction
Once I had all the assets built and ready for Unity I constructed the scene. While most of the objects were unique, there were several objects that were duplicated such as the tables and chairs. In order to maintain that handcrafted, one of a kind appearance I made sure to not actually duplicate them in Unity but instead to do it in Maya and then warp each one so they were in fact customized even if they shared the same textures.
October 13, 2015
We have officially launched The Night Cafe: An Immersive Tribute to Van Gogh on the Oculus Store for Gear VR. Between jumping from Unity 4 to 5 and many other optimizations this took longer than we would have liked but we’re excited that it’s now out there for everyone with a Gear VR or a DK2 to try.
October 11, 2015
I attended Oculus Connect this year and I wanted to give my first impressions of some of the things I saw there. Overall I had a great experience and I think Oculus did a great job organizing this event for developers. You could tell they really wanted to get all the latest tech they’ve been working on in front of developers to get people thinking about future games and experiences. The Touch controllers in particular seemed like the most important feature of the conference.
September 28, 2015
I’ve been meaning to put together a post to wrap up the Night Cafe project for some time now. This is the project that won the Platinum award in the Oculus Mobile VR Jam 2015 for apps and experiences as well as the Community Choice award.
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