My children are aged one and three. I can’t count the times I’ve watched them spill their milk on purpose. Seemingly to get on my nerve, but really just to see what happens when you do that.
This fall, I got an opportunity to try out some advanced virtual reality (VR) gear, and a good mix of different content titles. The first few were a visual showcases by the headset providers. Standing underwater, on the deck of shipwreck and suddenly noticing a blue whale glide past you inches away is a visceral experience.
I then got to don a few grippers and enter the kitchen of “Job Simulator”. Not long after, I heard myself giggle while dropping eggs on the virtual floor and spraying sauce around. Regressing to a child’s giddy excitement of I-wonder-what-happens-when-I-do-this takes about 15 seconds in VR.
I also got to explore ways of navigating larger worlds in VR and the intensity of emotion good scripting can summon in there.
Different examples drove home the power of an immersive experience in VR. But also the difficulty of maintaining that flow and providing lasting excitement. The potential is incredible.
Virtual and later augmented reality (AR) will be transformational in a lot of fields, I’m sure. As usual, some will dismiss the technology as frivolous, and gaming will be the industry to push the development. But eventually it’ll be everywhere and sooner than most expected.
In these early days, the best content creators around the world will experiment with the new medium to find what works. And to invent what is now suddenly possible. At the same time, the technology is still present as a limitation. Like in the early days of AAA game development, it is at the same time artistic discovery and nuts-and-bolts optimisation to push every last pixel and frame-per-second out of devices out there.
That is why I’m beaming with pride as we announce our investment into Sólfar Studios. This is exactly the team to build category-defining experiences in a new medium.
Kjartan, Reynir and Thor explained to us the cornerstones of lasting and powerful experiences. In Godling I saw how they will come together. They will need to bend hardware to their will producing awe-inspiring visuals without sacrificing on framerate. They will spin captivating tales to support the worlds they create. Players will have direct effect over the reality surrounding them, washing to the back of their mind that it is virtual.
The ball is still up in the air on when the VR market really takes off. Studios looking for a head start will need to research and experiment to be ready when there is a mass market. Shooting for such a moving target, Sólfar has set up a fast and agile team to work and iterate on a backlog of game concepts. A wealth of experience combined with the energy and thirst of younger talent in a small team is just what you want at point.
As they blaze a trail, we’ll be the rear ranks supporting them. While at it, we’ll get to know the territory. As if helping build VR games wasn’t enough fun in itself, we’ll learn a ton. When the day comes for VR outside entertainment, we’ll know.