Insights from the Dev Community - VRDC/GDC 2018
Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
March 29, 2018

We've had a great VRDC/GDC this year with over 20 in-booth learning sessions, 3 amazing social events with our developers, and over 60 office hours sessions with the community. We've learned a lot about what is working for you all, what could be improved, and what you want to see next.

Below is a recap of what we've learned this year as well as some learnings from a couple of successful titles showcased at GDC 2018.

Oculus learning talks: Co-Presence in VR

We hosted over 20 in-booth learning sessions in our Learning theater on the show floor. We were joined by members of the Oculus team as well as some of the Oculus developer community to discuss best practices, dive into Oculus developer tools, and share insights.

This year, we were joined in the Oculus booth by Coatsink Studios, Experiment 7, and OZWE Games to discuss the next evolution in game development. All three of these studios focused on bringing immersion through social co-presence to their applications and also touched on how to develop for entirely new pieces of hardware - Oculus Go.

The top things we learned:

  1. One way to increase social presence is the use of Avatars.
    • Using spatial and directional cues make presence much more apparent
    • Hands and head are very important for presence so making sure you accurately represent them is paramount
  2. Interactions with NPCs is another way to increase presence in VR
    • Ensure NPCs behave in a believable manner
    • If you are interacting with an NPC and you are looking at something in the distance the NPC should react and look in the same direction
    • NPCs should be able to blink
    • NPCs should have realistic movement speed

Live AMA with Chris Pruett

This month, our Oculus AMA series was hosted live on the show floor at GDC. The AMA (Ask Me Anything) series was launched late last year to provide the developer community with an opportunity to ask questions and connect directly with members of the Oculus team. For our March AMA, we were joined by Chris Pruett, Head of Development Relations Engineering, to answer questions asked live from the Oculus GDC booth, live on our live stream, and also pre-submitted questions from our social channels.

This session took a deep dive into performance optimization best practices including insights into lightmaps and shading, time warp and compositor layers, C# and multithreading, and fixed foveating rendering with the Oculus Go. Fixed foveating rendering is one of the new features of developing for Oculus Go. Chris touched on how this technology allows developers to render the edges of the VR eye texture at a lower resolution than the center and can be a significant performance optimization for titles that render to high-resolution buffers or that have complex fragment shaders. It's definitely something that we feel will make developing new applications and porting applications to Oculus Go much smoother.

You can check out the full AMA here on the Oculus Developer Facebook channel.

The Community

Throughout the conference, members of the Oculus team had a chance to sit down directly with our developers to learn more about what you're working on and the type of support you're looking for. We heard a lot from you on the show floor as well as during our office hours.

Devs were keen to improve users' sense of presence in VR, especially for social experiences. We also heard how some of the community is working on enabling NPCs to realistically interact with users as an additional method of improving immersion in VR.

We also met with multiple members of the VR community looking to create simulation and training experiences for internal usage. These developers wanted to explore multi-user simulation exercises and additional instances of co-presence within applications. Among the issues raised were the need for hardware specifications for the Rift and sensors, security concerns, usage of the hardware and software in classified and closed environments. Each of these developers had little to no experience developing in VR but expressed excitement over the possible future uses of the technology and we're excited to help them along their VR journey.

We also heard from a number of developers looking for feedback and guidance on in-progress projects. Each developer wanted to ensure they were doing everything they can to make their experience the best it can be. Including interactive elements and spatialized audio in a narrative experience or implementing social platform features such as leaderboards and achievements are good ways to enhance the user experience. For developer tools, samples, and documentation to help you with your VR app, head on over to the Develop section of the Oculus Developer Center.

We had a great conference this year and look forward to more opportunities to connect. Your feedback is incredibly important to us and we love hearing from you - tell us what you think!