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 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 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.


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!