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Some awesome fan art of our Lady Cannonhail from Matthew Taylor (@MattHTaylor). Check it out!

Some awesome fan art of our Lady Cannonhail from Matthew Taylor (@MattHTaylor). Check it out!

(Source: insertartisthere)

My Thoughts on the Oculus Acquisition

… WHAT THE FUCK?!?

That was my initial reaction, but after sleeping on it I’m more interested in trying to understand what it actually means for the Rift and VR over the long term. I think we can look at it from a few different perspectives, so I’ll try to address them individually.

For those of you who don’t want to read my rambling: The tl;dr is that in the short term I think this is a win for both the hardware and the low level software, but I have concerns about long term direction, research, and dealing with Facebook as a 3rd party developer.

The Hardware (Short-Term)

The FB acquisition gives Oculus a ton of purchasing power and leverage when trying to get components to build the consumer kit. It’s hard to see how this is anything but a major win for consumers - the hardware will get better and do so more quickly than it ever could have with Oculus as an independent company.

People discussing this aspect seem to be overhyping what can happen for CV1 though. The Facebook acquisition doesn’t mean we’ll magically get a 4k screen in the initial consumer version. Even if that were a viable part, how many people actually have a computer that can drive 4k at 75Hz or 90Hz?

The Hardware (Long-Term)

The big risk for the gaming community here is if/when the R&D needed for Facebook’s social VR experiences diverges from what is good for games. I don’t think they’ll ever completely diverge, over the last few years we’ve seen game designers use almost every device for games in a unique way. But I do think that tracking and input for games could end up being different than tracking and input for a social experience, and it’ll be sad if Oculus focuses on the social side because of the acquisition.

I could also see a future where Facebook wants Oculus to focus on capture devices for Virtual Reality content and providing that to consumers. As a medium Facebook needs content to share, and right now there is no good way for consumers to author VR content. Again, people will find ways to make a game out of it, but that’s different than focusing on devices that are for games.

The Software (Low Level/Drivers/API)

Like the hardware, I think everyone gets better low level software thanks to the acquisition. They’ll have a bigger team to work on the drivers and libraries, and it should make for a better experience.

The Software (High Level/Platform/Marketplace)

I know Palmer has said that you’ll never be required to have a Facebook login to use the Rift, and I think in the low-level ‘make a game that runs on the rift’, he’s probably correct.  I hope so. At the high level, I would be shocked if distributing content through the official Oculus channels will be done without a Facebook account. I’d also be surprised if any apps or games from Oculus didn’t leverage the Facebook platform as well.  Zuckerberg said that they’re a software platform company, and I expect if you’re using their platform you’re going to have to be part of their ecosystem.

Players/Consumer Adoption

Facebook has a huge audience that they could promote the Rift to, but I’m not sure there’s messaging that could convince the vast majority that buy run of the mill desktop machines to buy a new machine and a VR headset to experience … whatever it is that Facebook wants them to experience.

The early adopters are currently riled up, and I don’t know if any significant number will actually cancel their preorder. But at the very least it’s created a short-term antagonistic relationship with people who I think Oculus still needs to promote VR. Because VR isn’t something you can sell to someone with words or a video, it has to be experienced. So that’s not great.

Facebook as the Steward of Virtual Reality

This is really where a lot of the lashback has come from. Facebook has a negative perception in the community for their behavior towards privacy, antagonistic relationships with 3rd party developers on their platform, and poor support for their libraries and SDKs.

In terms of privacy, there’s no reason to think that Facebook will be well-behaved. If there are metrics or information that are beneficial to their core business (advertising) they will track them. As VR incorporates more sensors, I assume those will also be included if they make sense.  Does this mean that the tracking camera that ships with DK2 is going to start sending pictures back to Facebook? There’s no real value there for Facebook, so I’m guessing the answer is no. If the Oculus ever gets eye tracking would they track what you look at in their content? That seems way more valuable and far more likely. Our best hope here is that the tracking and metrics are part of the higher level software, and I think they’d need to be to have any contextual information. If that’s the case, then developers who target the Rift as a low level VR device should still be able to skip out on it. When Facebook has a VR experience though, assume that data is being tracked.

Anyone worrying about Facebook somehow injecting ads into 3rd party content not running on their platform is being silly, there’s no realistic way that’s going to happen. Could they require ads in stuff that ships on their platform? Sure. We’ll see if that happens in the long run, but in the short term I wouldn’t expect them to dictate that stuff except in their own first party experiences.

For being a 3rd party developer, I don’t know many folks who have had positive experiences with Facebook. But then, Oculus hasn’t exactly been stellar with 3rd party developers either. As a small team they’ve focused on working with a few key partners, and the rest of us have been left to sort things out on our own. I’d like to think that the additional resources provided by Facebook will let Oculus improve their developer outreach, but until that actually happens I’m in ‘wait and see’ mode.

So… What Does All That Mean?

As I said at the top, I think this is a win for the technology in the short term. I have no doubt CV1 will be a better device because of the acquisition, and the software will likely ship in a better state than it would have otherwise.

But for VR to succeed as a platform, the technology isn’t sufficient. It needs early adopters, advocates, and developers pushing the state of the art forward. And that’s the weak spot of this acquisition, may developers and early adopters are turned off by the thought of working with Facebook either due to ethical concerns or past experience as a third party developer.

Working on calculating visible areas so I can darken/hide rooms that shouldn’t be visible.

Working on gun inventory today - adding the ability to swap for a gun you find or harvest the ammo out of it and keep the guns you currently have.

Working on gun inventory today - adding the ability to swap for a gun you find or harvest the ammo out of it and keep the guns you currently have.

Free Rider - A Card Game Using the Standard 52 Card Deck


Objective - Finish all the tasks, and do the least amount of work!
Number of Players - 4

Setup:

Before initial shuffle and deal, have each player draw a card.  The
highest draw will be the first player, and the game flows clockwise.

Each player is dealt 10 cards.  These are your work cards, and
represent work you can do to get an assignment done.  Of course, you
won’t want to use these if you don’t have to.  The numerical value on
the card represents the amount of work a card is worth.  Aces are
worth 1 unit, face cards are ‘excuse’ cards, and are explained below.

Round:

One of the remaining deck cards is flipped over, this card is the Team
Assignment.  To finish an assignment, the team must play enough work
cards such that the work is equal to or greater than the numerical
value of the team assignment.  Face card assignments are all a value
of 10.

The player who’s turn it is has several options available.  You may:

1. Play a work card.  This will reduce the remaining points necessary
to finish an assignment.  If the assignment is not completed, then the
game continues to the next player. If the work card completes an
assignment the player gets stuck with the assignment and takes the
trick.  A new assignment is then started with the next player’s turn.

2. Play an excuse card.  This adds zero to the value of the
assignment, and passes it on to the next player.

Play continues until all players are out of work cards, or until all
assignments are completed.

Victory/Loss Conditions:

If a player runs out of work and excuse cards before the game is over,
the professor has caught them free riding and they have lost.

Amongst all players who are left at the end of a game, whoever has
taken the least number of assignments is the winner.  If there is a
draw, then whoever has more cards left is the winner.  If the number
of cards remaining is also equal, then it is a true draw.

Alternatively, if a player takes all of the assignments then they win
by ratting out their team to the professor.  Their extensive body of
work and all of the evidence is enough for the professor to be
convinced the rest of the team was free riding.

Key gun? Key gun.

Craig sketched one of the characters from Monsters & Monocles. :)

Craig sketched one of the characters from Monsters & Monocles. :)

(Source: monstersandmonocles)

monstersandmonocles:

Some screenshots from last week’s build, the furniture placement got an overhaul, enemies got some drop shadows, and I added a very simple player AI to test with when we’re not running a networked game.

tearascal:

Woo! The new game we’re working on now has a name! :D

Announcing Monsters & Monocles, our “gentleman-like” procedural co-op shooter for you and up to three friends! http://monstersandmonocles.com 

(via monstersandmonocles)

tearascal:

WIP explosion for the Bomb Demon in our new game!
More info coming VERY soon! :P

tearascal:

WIP explosion for the Bomb Demon in our new game!

More info coming VERY soon! :P

New Year, New Job

This post is far too belated, but better late than never:

At the start of the year I started working with the guys over at Retro Dreamer, and I couldn’t be more excited. We’re hard at work on our first game and I’m really excited with how it’s shaping up.

We’ll be announcing it any day now, but here are a few vines from early builds to give you some hints about what we’re building:


A quick video of the new First Law Build, looks way different than the last public test build!  More info and downloads here: First Law Info Page

Listen to the fantastic @isyourguy talk about some of the challenges in designing “realistic” sounds for First Law.

Introducing the Kamakiri - our second ship for First Law

Introducing the Kamakiri - our second ship for First Law

The new things in this video:

  • The finished space station exterior! I love having a big space station to fly around and it feels enormous with the rift on. If you’re curious I believe it’s 4000m in diameter.
  • Newtonian(ish) physics! Drag is set to zero so you’ll continue following a given velocity vector until you apply thrust in a different direction. I did add a velocity cap to keep speeds from getting out of control (hence the “ish”), but it seems like a nice overall compromise. It’s a lot of fun to just spin 180 degrees to attack a guy on your tail while you keep your heading. :)
  • Afterburners double your max velocity for 10 seconds and add a bit of screen shake in for effect. Lots of fun and great for getting some space in a close dogfight.
  • Reworked screens to be a consistent color instead of the multicolor system I had before. I think this looks better overall
  • Reworked scene lighting and layout a bit to try to make it feel a bit more space-like

Hope you like what you see! And to answer a question off the bat: I’m still aiming for an end of August release for this build, I have a few things up my sleeve that I really want to get in for you to play with.