For four years running, Switzerland-based OZWE Games has been at the forefront of VR gaming. Their most recent title, Anshar Wars 2 launched on Gear VR in 2015, and was praised for its varied challenges and richly detailed environments, from ships to the asteroids to the stunning backdrops. This week at GDC, OZWE Games’ newest title was revealed: Anshar Online, coming to Oculus Go, Rift, and Gear VR later this spring.
Anshar Online shares many characteristics with familiar MMOs, offering a mix of single player and multiplayer gameplay — with far more robust multiplayer options including co-op, PvP and racing modes with cross-platform play. After early experimentation with multiplayer gameplay in Anshar Wars 2, OZWE Games’ Stephane Intissar explained that the team wanted to give people the opportunity to play with friends regardless of the device used, and ultimately without negatively impacting the game experience. “We worked hard to make sure one player doesn’t have an advantage over another. A powerful PC should offer no better performance than a mobile device. It's a delicate process, to balance the power of devices with no advantage or drawback.”
Optimizations focused heavily on making the right tradeoffs, setting culling properly, respecting poly count and leveraging discrete shaders for each platform to deliver a unified experience without impacting performance.
Performance gains were aided in large part by Oculus Go and the advantages of a full stack VR OS. Two features developed by Oculus — Fixed Foveated Rendering and dynamic throttling — mean Anshar Wars can run at full resolution. According to Intissar, they've observed “less blurry fonts, less aliasing, and sharper details. We're observing a much more stable CPU usage; put simply, you could not run the software like this on Gear VR.”
And it's this same specialized OS that Intissar believes will make the difference for fellow developers. “So far, everybody really likes the product. It's really specialized for VR, from the hardware level all the way to the OS and the application level. That makes a significant difference. And it's not just performance, it's overhead, too. Oculus can release updates at a faster pace, without friction. On drop-in devices, you have to wait six, nine months, and even then — there's no guarantee it'll be pushed to the device. Before Oculus Go, devs had to work for the worst case scenario. That is not ideal.”
To other developers interested in Oculus Go, Intissar offers this advice: “turn on single-pass rendering for optimization. The draw calls will be lower. And be mindful of your poly count, make sure shaders aren't too heavy on the fragment side.”
If you're at GDC you can demo Anshar Online in the Oculus booth and look out for it when it launches on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR.