Last month VRFocus was in attendance at Develop:VR in London to take in the talks, the experiences – good and not so good – and also to talk to some of the attendees. One such discussion took place with Brynley Gibson, a former Executive Producer at SIE London Studios working on titles such as PlayStation VR Worlds and current Head of Studios at Curve Digital Entertainment. We took the opportunity to ask Gibson to take stock of 2016 and ask him what 2017 might hold in store for both him and the virtual reality (VR) industry.
Kevin Eva, VRFocus: 2016. Do you think it has been the year of VR?
Brynley Gibson: I think it’s getting there. We’re almost at the end! No… it’s the beginning. It’s not just going to be a single year. If anyone was thinking it was gonna just sort of stop; we need to go through really the next decade with the way it’s going to grow. Based in terms of the user base, also the technology, and also our skills as developers. The people making the experiences. There’s so much happening right now in terms of talks, in content coming out, in things to look at and learning; that I guess the acceleration of learning – that’s the thing I’m finding really fascinating right now. So people are seeing stuff, learning from somebody else, implementing that and… I think we’ve got a good few years ahead of us of very rapid growth. In terms of how we make games- sorry, VR experiences- and what those experiences are. And then wanting to see how the actual marketplace grows inside that. That’s a separate question.
VRFocus: What would you say was the most exciting VR experience that you’ve come across this year? The one that’s actually made you stop and go “Ooh! That’s really good.”
Gibson: I know what this is actually. Because I was just really blown away by something I played at Develop in the Summer and it’s Triangular Pixels. Something called Unseen Diplomacy. Which is a room space VR experience where you essentially some sort of spy and you have to break your way into a secret facility and stop the bad guys. In essence. Now, what it does so brilliantly is using the room space to completely baffle you and forget you’re actually in a very small space. So it has you crawling around in circles, in spirals and crossing back over yourself. And as you’re crawling through vents or edging yourself along a very thin strut above some people walking below you, you do so sort of forget. And it’s a very stylised experience, but very believable. The sheer level is where it really comes into its own.
VRFocus: So there was both a physicality and also a specific need for accuracy there with that?
Gibson: Yeah. I mean, I played it in front of loads of loads of people just wandering around, and you’re there with and you’re there with your shoes and socks off crawling around, like a crazy person. But it didn’t matter. I now guess that was the strength of the emotion that was there, because people got over very quickly how ridiculous they were being in reality.
VRFocus: Would you say that is one of VR’s biggest hurdles that it needs to get over still? The whole sense of… embarrassment almost, about VR?
Gibson: Yeah… I think it goes away actually, on a decent experience. I’ve not really had a problem- I mean I’ve done a lot of reviews where you’re kind of, maybe working with marketing teams or something so you bring a lot of people in, and everyone has a go and work through. And because that immersion can take people very quickly, it can be you know seconds really, before some… they’ve forgotten. They’ve got their headphones, on obviously they’ve got the headset on- they can’t see anything. They do forget and they very quickly are sort of natural, and it’s just them and the experience. And it’s only when they come out at the end they suddenly go “Oh! I’m surrounded by people.” So, I haven’t seen it as a problem. I think we’ll get used to it more and more as time goes on.
VRFocus: What’s the one thing you want to see happen in 2017 with VR – above all else?
Gibson: Well, I’d like to see lots of people buy VR headsets…!
VRFocus: Well, don’t we all(!)
Gibson: So, yeah, that. Defiantly that! Yes… In all seriousness with a bigger market it will raise the possibilities of what people make. Because essentially, the potential returns will increase and people can take greater risks on their ambitions and what they can do. I guess from a creative point of view I’d like to see some new genres being found, so whether that’s a new take on something that already exists in games or film. A twist on that. Or something that feels totally new to VR and can VR only be in VR. I mean, we’re just scratching the surface now, I think, of genre and what you can do in VR. It’s all out there. People just need to go for it and see what they can come up with in their imaginations.
VRFocus: Brilliant. So what does 2017 hold for you personally?
Gibson: Well, I’m very busy doing a mix of self-published titles that we’re doing for Curve [Digital]. So we’re sort of building some games we’re going to release – but they’re not VR based. Just for digital distribution through Curve. But we’re also working on a number of other projects and some of them are VR – I can’t really get into the details right now. But hopefully you’ll hear about it soon enough!
When the time is right VRFocus will certainly bring you updates on those projects. Did you agree with Brynley Gibson? Let us know in the comments.