Blair Renaud is the lead developer for Technolust, which is a cyberpunk VR adventure game. He talks about what it took to make his Kickstarter successful, what motivated him to get into VR development, and how his game development background influenced his VR experience development.

Blair-Renaud He also discusses the process of making predictions for how technological advances will unfold, and the intention behind incorporating other dystopian, cyberpunk elements like the impacts of government and corporate corruption — as well as the benefits of technology like the proliferation of 3D printing, VR/AR, and the terraforming Mars.

Blair talks about his plan for using photoscanned NPCs through the process of photogrammetry & 3D scanning, and what he’s doing to make that a comfortable experience while avoiding the uncanny valley.

Finally, he talks about avoiding things in VR that bother people while not being afraid to make them feel unsettled, and his future plans moving forward with Technolust and VR development in general.

Reddit discussion here.

TOPICS

  • 0:00 – Intro to Technolust
  • 0:26 – Coming off of a successful Kickstarter. Modest goal of $30k, and more than doubled that. It took a lot of PR and work and didn’t get any development done during the month.
  • 1:05 – What was the turning point that convinced you to get into VR development? Took money from Second Life, and didn’t see any demos that demonstrated what was possible with VR.
  • 1:45 – Game development background
  • 2:54 – Lessons from Technolust – Always wanted to do everything. Learned as much as he could by working in the video game industry and went from intern to level designer and technical director
  • 3:56 – How is VR level design different than regular 2D game design? VR is very different. Design from inside the game, it’s more enjoyable, and more like being interior decorator, set designer and lighting guy all in one.
  • 4:43 – How do you bring in those sci-fi technological advances into your game beyond just flying cars? Good sci-fi is predictive. Predictions of the proliferation of 3D printing & government corruption. Being able to tell the future of VR and AR itself within a VR experience, layers of VR
  • 6:14 – How do you deal with the polarity between future visions of utopia or dystopia, and how you’re deciding how you’re going to portray the future? Has a pessimistic predisposition. Not a happy ending, but it’s an enjoyable experience. Like the idea of making people feel a little disturbed and unsettled. It’s like a call to action to change the real world when you take off the Rift.
  • 7:22 – Have you considered how you could included technology that makes the world a better place within your story? Cyberpunk genre has a common theme of corporate greed and how much control they have. Technology is awesome in Technolust. You can print whatever you want, but the corporation is the bad guy. People will enjoy the AR components within the game as well as terraforming Mars. There are benefits to technology in the game.
  • 8:26 – What are photoscanned NPCs? Photogrammetry & 3D scanning allows you to get a highly detailed representations of real objects into VR. Making the models viable for a game by rigging them up and reducing the polygon count. It’s ambitious, but they’re partnering with another team who is collaborating to showcase their work.
  • 9:26 – How will you deal with the uncanny valley with these photoscanned NPCs? Don’t feel bad about making people feel a little bit unsettled. Try to make it as comfortable as possible. Integrating video of the real characters via video projection. May obscure faces with cyberpunk fashion and intend on doing good facial animations.
  • 10:21 – Things that you tried in Technolust that didn’t work at all? Tried out a number of things pointed out in the Oculus best practices guide, and generally they were right about things like avoiding feelings of falling and taking away the control of the camera. He might need to change some elements that he got feedback on. Still trying to figure out what bothers people like the particle effects in the jacked in VR made people feel like they were falling.
  • 11:36 – What’s your timeline going forward? Pre-release beta when DK2 is released for people to enjoy positional tracking. Release date originally set for September, but that may get pushed back.
  • 12:40 – Where do you see VR is going? Everywhere. Wishes that he had some clones. Has other project ideas. It’s the final media. No reason to buy other media gadgets. Trying to catch the wave.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

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