VRTGO Meet the Experts

VRTGO provided another great event for developers, in the form of it’s Meet the VR/AR Experts day, hosted in the Northumbria University conference rooms at the Northern Design Centre.

During the event I got to see some of the most talked about VR demos in action. One of which was Epic Games Bullet Train experience, which utilised the Oculus Touch controllers.

The demo itself seemed to encapsulate the true possibilities of an interactive game experience in ways that didn’t seem just novel but practical, exciting and fun to play. The control scheme showed the strength of the Touch controllers, in that they felt comfortable to hold and were intuitive to use, thanks to the button placement matching where fingers rested naturally. The attendant also confirmed the second camera sensor being used for the demo could in future be expanded upon by adding additional sensors behind the player. However, during the time spent with this demo there were no occlusion issues, even though it is likely that these units weren’t the final version.

In comparison, the HTC Vive wand controllers which were used in other demos weren’t as comfortable or immersive as the Touch controllers. They were easy enough to pick up and hold, even after the headset was on, and their tracking didn’t miss a beat. Nonetheless, Neutron demonstrated their interior visualisations using the Vive, in which you could use the wands to look at a virtual wrist display and then swiping the trackpad to navigate it’s options.


The familiar motion of looking at your forearm by twisting your wrist is an example of excellent design, but there was a disconnect when the need arose to fiddle with a (seemingly non-cooperative) trackpad. The veil was lifted for a second as my attention moved to correctly positioning my thumb. A small gripe, which may be down to design more than hardware, but it’s noteworthy when the complete extent of the interactivity in your experience hinges on it.

Which makes me wish I had have been able to spend some hands-on time with the NVIDIA Funhouse experience. This one I was looking forward to, as it showcases the impressive physics capable in VR with the latest GPU technology.

Time was tight and the queue was long. No fun house today. Though, this may just be the best excuse to budget for a Vive and a GTX 1000 series GPU. If I couldn’t convince my partner perhaps Mr. Wolff from Epic Games can?

Doug Wolff is Partner Technology Manager at Epic Games, the first of two speakers at the event. Doug’s enthusiasm was apparent in his speech as he championed the designers and content developers as key to the success of VR in a number of different digital industries. He spoke at length about how his team can provide a range of support to developers through their integration with leading technology teams, as well as some of the projects he wanted to highlight as stand out uses of Unreal engine in the virtual and augmented reality spaces. NVIDIA Funhouse was up there, along with the outstandly thrilling and magnificently innovative Field Trip to Mars, winner of 19 lions at this years Cannes Lions Festival.

Second speaker for the day was Humphrey Hardwicke of Digital VR, who I talked to briefly at the VRTGO Labs launch event. Humphrey ran us through how his company, the Luminous Group, found applications for VR across their existing sectors of digital surveys and architecture and what this meant to them and their clients. He provided a range of examples and gave lots of good advice on how you can approach potential clients in order to win work providing AR or VR products/services.

The event was again flawlessly hosted by the ebullient Carri Cunliffe of Secret Sauce. She took the opportunity to promote both the upcoming ARM Optimised Mobile Rendering Techniques Workshop, which is free to attend on 8th September at Gateshead College, as well as the annual VRTGO Conference & Expo at the BALTIC, November 9th.

For this outing I was accompanied by my partner, who endured the technical barrage of information and gave me useful perspective on the day’s events from an outsider’s point of view. I would recommend doing so if possible, as it’s quite easy to adopt an insular mindset and get caught up in the hype, especially with new technologies you’re invested in.

Altogether, I walked away from yet another VRTGO event filled with ideas and inspiration.

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Independent game designer.