One of the highlights of this month’s Game Developer Conference (GDC), San Francisco, was Crytek’s newfound commitment to virtual reality (VR). Having been hedging their bets for far too long, the company promised that the popular CryEngine 3 would offer true support for VR development ‘in a few weeks’, but not only that, the company also showcased their own technical demonstration, Back to Dinosaur Island. However, VRFocus was informed that this was more than a simple tech demo.
Speaking about the history of Crytek, Cevat Yerli, CEO and President of Crytek, recalls what he suggests was a ‘pivotal’ moment in videogame graphics: the nVidia GeForce 3 chip. In support of that, Crytek developed a technical demonstration named X-isle – Dinosaur Island back in 2001.
“We had a tech demo called Dinosaur Island which we thought was going to be the pivotal moment for game graphics to jump forward, because you had programmable shaders the first time,” states Yerli in an interview with VRFocus. “And so, we said ‘let’s bring back the dinosaur tech demo’ that we ignited – with nVidia – the graphics industry in a way, and lets now apply that to VR, and ‘let’s make that message that we are back to dinosaur island’, back where we started, because I think that’s another 10 years of journey for us.”
The demonstration given at GDC – the second of Crytek’s VR demonstrations following an impressive debut at Gamescom, Cologne, in August last year – managed to wow audiences both involved with VR and new to the medium. Showcased on both an Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype and the second iteration of the development kit (aka DK2), Back to Dinosaur Island was arguably the most impressive third-party project shown on the Oculus VR head-mounted display (HMD).
Talking about future plans for Back to Dinosaur Island, Yerli is obviously excited about its potential. Moving on to the next stage of development comes with understandable trepidation, but Yerli is confident that there is more to come.
“I like the idea of as many people as possible seeing the VR experience that we have created,” states Yerli. “It remains to be seen what we can support and in what time frames right now – every VR support is taking a lot of time – but that’s one of the reasons why as CryEngine creator we are inclined to make sure it’s as simple as possible to go on multi-platform. So we’ve got tech and production work to be done, but time will tell on where we’re going to show it next.”
Speaking specifically about Back to Dinosaur Island, Yerli is much more candid: “We can’t talk at this point about new IPs, but we are not showing a tech demo here… We have serious plans for VR, but the announcement has to wait a little bit.”
Exactly what form Back to Dinosaur Island will take when it evolves into a full videogame product remains to be seen, but the demonstration showcased at GDC was certainly an exciting proposition. VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on Crytek’s work in VR, including the full interview with Yerli coming later this week.