Speaker Q&A: Trevor Blom on the development of Arizona Sunshine

Trevor Blom is lead programmer at Vertigo Games and will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Looking Back at the Development of ‘Arizona Sunshine’ and ‘Skyworld’, which will discuss the development of both games for VR using Unity. Here, Blom gives us some information about himself and his work.

Join creators of innovative VR, AR, and mixed reality technologies at VRDC Fall 2017.  Register by July 26 to save $400.

 Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR
 We basically started thinking about VR seriously back when the Oculus Kickstarter launched, before that we didn’t have any professional experience with VR/AR other than some small AR projects during studies. Once we received the first Oculus headsets we enabled our game World of Diving for VR use. Afterwards we developed prototypes for Arizona Sunshine and Skyworld among others. We decided to continue with those projects as we had received a lot of positive feedback from friends and family.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at VRDC

Arizona Sunshine and Skyworld are very ambitious projects for our small team, especially for VR. I will talk about the lessons we have learned during the development, many of which we would have liked to know before we started the development too! I hope we can help a lot of other devs by sharing our experiences with this new platform so they can fully focus on developing awesome experiences.

What excites you most about VR/AR?

From a developer’s perspective I love how VR and AR are a new frontier in technology. There are no best practices, no established and proven projects you can get inspiration and knowledge from. We are learning new things every day that can not be found in any literature. We have a backlog of VR specific things we still want to prototype and experience and we add new ones daily. We aren’t even close to getting everything out of VR that we can.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to realizing VR/AR’s potential?

There are a lot of problems that we will have to find solutions for as an industry. Getting players engaged enough to get a device at home is still and will remain one of the larger ones for a while. Also, there is a huge overlap with other disciplines such as psychology that have a big part in how we utilize VR and player interaction. I think it will be necessary that different fields start engaging with VR/AR in order to accelerate developers by providing new knowledge.

How was developing your VR title within Unity? Was there a particular reason why you picked Unity as the engine to create Arizona Sunshine and Skyworld?

Before we started VR development we were already working in Unity for non-VR games, so porting our existing code to another engine would be time consuming. Over time, we have learned that Unity is very quick with creating VR-specific updates. They are also open and responsive to feedback for current and future features. Since we are working on the cutting edge, we are reliant on rapid iterations and updates.

Were there any complications during development? What advice would you give to a developer interested in creating a similar “immersive experience” in VR?

We haven’t necessarily ran into major complications that could hurt our planning. We had to learn a lot during the development about VR in general, but we had also expected this. Our first VR steps were made while being in close contact with Oculus and Vive, that was more of a learning process and candy store experience for us. For Arizona and Skyworld we could iterate on the knowledge we had gained before. Obviously we have learned a lot that if he had known before would spare us a lot of time, and that is exactly what I want to share with other devs!

Register for VRDC Fall 2017 to hear more about game development from Trevor, and join other creators of amazing, immersive experiences at the premier industry event.