Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Latest Screenshots

We've been very busy (as usual) these past few weeks, but want you to know we are still here and working hard! Here are some of our latest screenshots :) Thank you for following us!







Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Visit to Oculus HQ and Development Updates


While John was in town for IndieCade, we also scheduled a meeting with Oculus the day after the festival to chat about the future of our game, the rift and more - and also to have John try out the new Crescent Bay Prototype! 



James and I were able to try it out at Oculus Connect a month before, so we were excited to have John try it out and see what he thought...

James asked if we could takes some photos

Within a minute, John was smiling! Like me, he gets sim sickness using DK1, and a little bit using DK2. But we both agreed that this was far superior! It was incredible!

"It's the first time I've felt like I don't care about the hardware, and  I'm just focused on the experience. The rift is starting to feel less like a development kit and more like a final product." - John

James and I were both happy to hear that he agreed with how we felt about it. We've all been developing for and using the Rift now for over a year, and we were all still blown away by this new prototype. It has made us even more excited about developing for VR now and in the future - there are so many possibilities!




"I try to describe Virtual Reality to people using Star Tours...you aren't completely fooled, but it doesn't matter because you are having so much fun" - John

After the Meeting

It was also nice having the team be able to meet up again. It's only during conventions now that we all get to see each other in person (even though we see each other on Video Chat almost every day), so we spent the rest of the day hanging out and playing video games together :)

For dinner we went out with our amazing professor, mentor, and friend Vinnie Morrison, who inspired us to pursue our dream in the first place! With our development schedule, we don't get to go out much (and honestly can't afford to either), so it was great to have the gang back together - at least for a day!

Now for Some Development Updates:
You should read this part, seriously :)
On Release

We get the question "when are you going to release" quite often, and lately our answer has been "around first quarter next year". Being pretty new still to the whole development cycle, we are unsure of how long Testing and QA will take us to really make this game polished enough for release.

We have a lot more done than we had at the beginning of the Summer, and now that Fall has settled in, we are thinking about our next steps. There are still some pieces of levels to build, some mechanics to work out, meshes to make and even puzzles to create - but we've finally found that balance of narrative and game play that we were looking for, which makes our vision just that much more cohesive.

The Beach :)
Making a Game

Making a game is a tricky business. A game is art, is function, is commercial, is getting across a message...is being successful at hundreds of different points of design. Even after talking to many industry veterans, we have still found that there is no agreed upon "right way" to do it.

Growth

For our company, White Lotus Interactive, we want to make sure that this first game is a reflection of what we are all trying to achieve, and what we are capable of right now in this moment. As we grow, our game grows - not in length, but in quality and depth.

See high-res version of this graphic here.



The Creative Process

Of course there are many times we have had stopping points, where we have agreed that something finally works, and is going to be a final piece of the game - but there are also many things that we make every week which will never make it into the final game due to time, our abilities, or the fact that those things no longer belong in the game we are currently creating. The game industry itself is a rapidly changing industry, thanks to new technologies being developed every day - and all of the creative people who evolve along side it. I suppose you could say that the development of a game is like a living thing: It grows and changes, and takes a lot of care and attention.

Example of a stone tablet design that probably won't make it in to the final game
Even after all the broad strokes are settled, we've found that the details and mechanics are what can truly make or break a game. After working on XING for the past 2 years, we can definitely say that the phrase "the devil is in the details" is quite applicable. But don't worry - we will continue to persevere and do everything we can to share this passion project with you guys as soon as we can :)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Epic IndieCade Experience


Thursday Day 1 - Setup Day

Koriel here! I live in the LA area, so on Thursday morning I picked John from the airport and we both scooted over to see the IndieCade village being set up. Unfortunately, James was not able to join us for this weekend IndieCade adventure - next time!



The Festival was being set up in a parking lot with a bunch of canopy tents, and we drove our car into the area closest to the Epic Games booth (so we could unload and practice our setup) Since we had a business meeting at 1pm, we had to set everything up just to tear it all down within about an hour and a half.


We both got awesome badges - Unreal Engine! Aww yea!
Setting up
Booth is set up!
Candy treasure!
Testing out the Rift
After our setup, teardown and meeting, we hung around for a while to talk to other indie Developers. and try out their games. We had a good time meeting people, and then a bit alter decided to head back to my place and relax for the rest of the day...knowing that it would be another long weekend for us.


Friday Day 2 - The Festival opens to Developers, Publishers, Tools makers and Media

On the Second day we picked up Speedo at the airport at 7;30am (thanks Speedo!), and proceeded to search for a good breakfast place. We had almost 2 hours to spare before setup time, so we found a local breakfast place near the IndieCade Village and ate there till 10. After having a nice chat over some delicious hash browns, steak and eggs, we parked in the structure nearest to the festival area and began to unload all the equipment we needed (which would end up taking us 2 trips.)

John testing out the Rift

Table to the Epic Booth!
Grabbing morning muffins. Second Breakfast!

We were all delighted to see that Speedo's badge read Speedo Sanchez, and not his actual name...
The "gates" opened at 12pm, and we were ready to talk to people all about XING. Very quickly, we realized the sun would be a major issue during the day as it moved acorss the sky. At about 2 pm it was melting our candy and directly shining on half of the table, so we removed our PC demo from use. It was actually pretty difficult to see the screen anyway in broad daylight, so it was a fine option for us. This made as very glad to have an Oculus Rift demo, where people escaped from the sun and it didn't affect their viewing.

John talking to people while someone plays on the Rift. 
Sixsense STEM system being used for the lightsaber demo. John tried it out on a break and said it was awesome :)
While we were in the Epic booth, we also helped explain to developers how awesome it is to use the Unreal 4 Engine!
The end of the day
Each day we packed everything up and put it in the car. On Friday, Epic invited us out to dinner (It was delicious Sushi!). It was great getting to know the members from Epic, talking and laughing over food and drinks. Everyone was so friendly! We even had a nice time getting to know our boothmates on the other side of the Epic booth, Shield Break Studios (who are making a super fun arena game called Bierzerkers).

After dinner we headed over the the Sony party about a block or 2 away, and met a couple more developers before deciding to call it a night.

It was a great first day, and we were excited for the next two days when the festival would be open to the public.

Saturday and Sunday (Days 3-4)

Saturday morning, my friend Allan came over to my place as a 4th member to help man the booth. It's great having friends help you out on these kinds of events, because it gives us more time to relax and try out other games. 

View looking out from the booth. Lots of card games in the middle aisle!
We set up Saturday and Sunday without the PC standard monitor demo, and just focused on the Oculus Rift demo.
Looking into the Epic Games booth from our side.
Allan (plaid) talks to Alan (sun glasses) about the Unreal Engine
John and Speedo are happy that Epic covered lunch from In-N-Out on Saturday and Sunday! So generous!
Kids over on the other side of the Epic Games booth playing Bierzerkers and having a good time!
Epic Swag
A few people from the Oculus booth came over and tried out our demo 
Oculus Booth - they had a large chrome streamer trailer with AC for demoing! Now that's the way to do it, because it was HOT! Also, they were demoing Vanguard V inside on the DK2 - which was pretty fun :)
More kids being attracted to the Bierzerkers booth setup. They were having so much fun that they didn't want to leave!
John and I towards the end of the day on Sunday. It was a successful event!
Saturday night we went out with our friends from Epic games again, this time to Korean BBQ in Korea Town. It was delectable...and so filling! Then on Sunday after packing everything up, we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport to drop off Speedo and Allan. Then John and I went out to dinner with an old friend in West LA, capping off a great weekend!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The First Oculus Connect


Last weekend we took 2 days off to participate in Oculus Connect, the first Virtual Reality Developer Conference held in Hollywood, CA. Since James and I both live near the area, we were able to just drive over - sorry John, next time!

Day 1


Hollywood Hills

On arrival we parked under the mall next to the hotel, and made our way up to the mezzanine floor. There were already tons of developers milling around the halls, showing off their latest work or new technology.

One of the first things we tried was the Gear VR, brought to life through the combined efforts of Samsung and Oculus.




Here's an interesting peripheral we found by Dexta Robotics.



James said it was quite comfortable

After an hour or 2 of "connecting", we decided to set up the demo for other developers to try out. Oculus provided 8 demo booths that were already set to go with DK2s. We set up the demo by plugging in an external hard drive, and had it going for about 45 minutes.

James setting up the demo

Making sure it is running well
 When 7pm came around, it was time for dinner! We just unplugged the drive and headed over the the ball room. Time for food!

FOOD!

Palmer Luckey giving a welcoming speech
Time to meet more developers!
Cymatic Bruce!
After the dinner and mingling hours Palmer Luckey invited everyone to go bowling at Lucky's Strike - so naturally, it was time to go bowling!

Entering names
Palmer (on the floor) shows his moves while I step up to the lane

Final scores for the first round...I guess we were all a bit rusty. But it was a lot of fun!
After bowling it was time to step out to run to the Proto Awards, the first of an annual awards show honoring VR developers and their products. We had already met quite a few of he nominees (and were also nominated for best Art Direction ourselves), so it was nice to be able to go and show our support.

This passed by us on the street. Oh Hollywood.

It was semi-formal/formal attire, so we had some fun dressing up. Me especially. 
Everyone was seated at tables, and the show was pretty nice. They even had chocolate covered strawberries!
On our walk back to the car, we stopped to take a few photos of the area. By then everything was lit up and looked like it does in films, so it was nice to simply enjoy the location.

In front of a Hollywood merchandise store for tourists.
At the Chinese Theatre

 The day went by rather nicely, and we were looking forward to a full day of learning, sharing and making friends.

Day 2

In the morning we arrived around 9am, and the talks had just started. We walked in as Brendan Iribe took the stage, and settled down for a morning of discussing the past, present and future of Virtual Reality.

During one of the next presentations, we were all told about the lastest HMD from Oculus VR: The Crescent Bay Prototype. At the same time, they announced that eveyone at the conference would be able to try it, and had to sign up using the Oculus Connect app we all downloaded...and that started "right now".

James and I immediately signed up for the first time slot, and left to try out the latest VR tech!


On our way out of the Dolby Theatre, we happened upon large buffet tables set out for all the Oculus Connect attendees. This inculded a food that neither James or I had tried before: Chocolate Covered Bacon.

Fancy Chocolate Covered Bacon

It was delicious! Thank you to whoever planned the catering!!

We realized we would never be hungry that day...

They even had yogurt out, with a variety of bars.

After we got past the delicious food, we found ourselves in line for the brand new Crescent Bay demo.

James checking in
The demo blew us away.

It was the most real VR experience either of us had ever experienced. The resolution of the new protoype is still under wraps, but it was definitely much higher than the Dev Kit 2. Also, everything was running at a solid 90 fps.

After being wowed by the latest tech, we went back to the car to grab our "booth in a box". We wanted to set up our own table with the XING demos running on DK2, so that other developers who flew in or were from far away could use the computer setups that were provided. It also gave us a chance to *decorate* it, just a bit :)

First person to try the demo. Later we had to take down the signage - but kept the plants!

Half the demo room

Setting people up.

This guy was checking out the positional tracking

While other people and developers played our demo, we were also invited to try several other VR demos. These were mainly using prototypes of the Gear VR headset.

James is a 3-D video watching bison walk past him.
Aaron Davies, head of Developer Relations at Oculus, played the game and gave us some nice feedback. He also gave us some helpful tips on what makes an immersive experience.
Michael Antonov, Chief Software Architect at Oculus VR, also enjoyed playing the demo.
Everyone was so open and friendly. This made for an amazing atmosphere!
After the talks ended, there was an after party by the pool on the 5th floor of the hotel. Again, there was a ton of food laid out on buffet tables for us. Oculus definitely did a fantastic job and making sure that everyone was taken care of!

About an hour in, we all joined in a birthday song and toast to Palmer Luckey.

Lighting the candles on the cake
Palmer took the Chocolate Rift, or Choculus CV1 (Cake Version 1)


The view of the mall facade from the afterparty meet and greet
Towards the end of the night, we ran into John Carmack, who was smiling and talking a mile a minute as a crowd of followers piled on the questions. We stayed to listen to some of his wisdom, before calling it a night.

John Carmack!
It was a wonderful conference and we will be sure to go again next year! Everyone was so friendly and open-minded, which created a great atmosphere for innovation and creativity. We also met some wonderful people.

And to finish this post as a reward, we have a new high-res screenshot of Iztali Point, our tropical beach level: