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A little advice for game developers from Oculus' Palmer Luckey

A little advice for game developers from Oculus' Palmer Luckey

September 20, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

September 20, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, Indie, Production, VR

At the Oculus Connect event going on in Hollywood today, Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey is a hard man to get hold of. He's been on stage to speak, but in his brief appearance in the press room, he's constantly encircled by hungry journalists. So with our few moments to speak to the man, we asked him for his advice for game developers. Here's what he had to say.

You've given a lot of advice about things like latency and framerate, and I think that's sunk in by now. Now that you've seen what people have been doing, what is your current advice now that the very basics have sunk in?

Palmer Luckey: Current advice... One piece of advice that never gets old is to be aware of the quality of your experience for people who are not necessarily VR lovers or VR developers. And that's across a whole wide range of things.

Just on the sickness side, people do acclimate. So if you're showing a demonstration to 100 VR developers or journalists who have used a lot of VR, they're going to respond a lot better than person off the street who's never used VR before. So you have to be careful to not fall into that trap of believing in the overwhelming positivity of people who already believe in what you're doing and have gotten used to all of the problems.

I think the same thing goes for things like user interfaces, which are right now, often, not all that easy to use, but people put up with them because they're developers, and they're game enthusiasts.

You'll see demos that get released now, and it's like, "Oh, yeah, to launch my demo you're going to have to make sure you're going to have to install this plugin pack from this website." And actually sometimes they don't even -- they'll put this in a forum post. There's not even a readme.

It's like, "Oh, black screen? You've gotta install the kay video codec pack, and yeah, make sure you don't have the new beta Nvidia drivers because those break it. Oh, and make sure you're outputting not through an external sound card because it'll conflict and go out over HDMI instead." People go, "Oh, yeah, that's no problem."

That's not the kind of polish that'll go over in the real world. They'll just say, "This is shit." And they'll want a refund.

From the stuff you've seen developers doing, do you really feel like people are going in the right direction and discovering things you're liking seeing?

PL: People are discovering things. People are discovering cool things. And I hate to say this, but it is just starting. If you think about a typical game development cycle, we're like two years into the company. Most games are like halfway through development at that point.

There are a lot of things we're beginning to see -- we're starting to see the beginnings of really cool games. But they're not developed to the point where you look at and you say, "Oh, my God. This is clearly a win, this is clearly the future." It's going to take more months or years before a lot of these seeds turn into big, giant trees.

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