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A Conversation with Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey
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A Conversation with Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey


September 3, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6
 

I'm assuming you're working pretty closely with some of the developers. This is just me guessing-slash-extrapolating, but Valve and CCP, you seem to be talking to them pretty actively, right? So are you getting feedback from developers and bringing that very actively into your pathway, or is it more research internally?

PL: No, that's one of the reasons we shipped these dev kits. A lot of the developers who bought these dev kits give us feedback either privately or publicly, and we take all of that into account as we design this stuff. And Valve, especially, has been super helpful, and they've been awesome to work with.

And it's good to have people -- there are a lot of developers out there who want to make virtual reality better. Beyond just making their own games, they really do want the technology to advance. So they are really interested in giving their feedback and helping us as much as they can.

To go back to something you said earlier, it sounds like you're not just concerned with getting the hardcore PC crowd. The early adopters --

PL: They're the most receptive to new technology, I think.

But at the same time, it sounds like you do want to see indies making games. You want to see imaginative experiences that are outside of the realms of traditional video games, potentially.

PL: Well, one of the things that I touched on in my talk was that VR, in a lot of ways, takes experiences that would have, by necessity, been quote "hardcore gamer experiences" because of the skill that it took to manipulate the view and hit targets. It took a lot of practice to be a gamer capable of playing these hardcore games.

Virtual reality, in a lot of ways, because you have head tracking and potentially more intuitive interfaces and input devices, a lot of these games actually become playable by people who haven't played video games as much. So in a way, it's not that we're targeting hardcore and casual markets. We're just trying to make a wider range of experiences available to everyone.

I will say that looking at ships to lock onto them in EVE Valkyrie... I mean, I know how to lock onto ships in video games. But still, I got it in a second.

PL: It's so incredibly easy to do. Whereas if you took someone who doesn't play a ton of video games and have them using a keyboard to control the ship and then using a mouse to look around and try to lock targets, I think they'd have a much harder time.

When we're on the cusp of something, it's just so impossible to tell what's going to happen. Do you have any sense of what's going to happen, or do you think you're going to release it and be incredibly surprised?

PL: Well, if I thought it, I wouldn't be very surprised, I guess! But, like I said, we're really focusing on trying to make the very best product we can and ship it out there. And I really do think that if we make the best product, and if it's really good, if it's as good as we can make it, then we will be successful. And if we're not -- if we make the best thing that we can and we can't be successful -- then maybe VR really isn't all that great after all.

But I don't think we really need to know how it's going to be or waste our time trying to predict it. Because there are companies that do nothing but try and predict what's going to happen in the game industry, or what's going to happen in the movie industry, or in the tech industry in general. And you know what? They're wrong so often. It would be a waste of time to sit and try and predict how the game industry is going to work in a couple of years, or in a few years. All we can really do is do our part in trying to make this awesome.

In the '90s we had the sense that VR was around the corner. I'm sure you remember.

PL: Yep.

It was the thing that was going to be the next thing, and then it just completely -- well, not completely went away, but almost dwindled down to nothing. Do you think there's a lot of pent up expectation?

PL: I do, and actually I think that's what kind of killed VR in the '90s. That there was all of this expectation for people who had seen movies, played games, read science fiction novels, and they expected that virtual reality was going to be this huge thing that was imminently going to change the world. And the reality is that the technology wasn't even close to ready. So people who hadn't tried VR were more excited than the people who had, which is kind of an odd thing for a technology.

I think that a lot of that pent up demand for VR is helping us right now. Because unlike most gaming peripherals or gaming hardware that does things differently, they have to work hard to actually convince people why their thing is better. Like the Wii U, they're trying to convince people why using this GamePad is better than just normal gaming. I think with VR, people already know why it's better. They get it. They've wanted it for a long time, so you don't have to convince them.

On the other hand, they have very high expectations. They are expecting something that is like The Matrix. So you have to get as close to that as you can before you release. Because if you launch something that isn't as good as technically possible and then they say, "Hey, it isn't actually that great," then you're going to have a hard time convincing them to give it a second shot.


Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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