Earth to Planet Alpha31…
sign us up!
Sneak Peek for Planet Alpha 31 captured from pre-alpha build.
In testing our apps with the general public, one thing has become abundantly clear: the bar for VR content is high. Extremely high, in fact.
Modern audiences have been primed for VR by two mainstream media: Hollywood Special FX blockbusters, and AAA videogames for consoles. Think the special effects from Avatar, or the Lord of the Rings, and Ex Machina; totally synthetic, computer-generated characters that are also totally believable… in fact, indistinguishable from human actors, apart from their extreme biological forms.
On the videogame front, we have massive 40+ hour experiences with photorealistic graphics, huge free-to-explore environments; think Gears of War, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.
These high expectations are compounded by the fact that the essence of the VR experience encourages close inspection of elements. In other words, people just love to lean in and closely examine textures and objects. This means that all the graphical and modelling shortcuts used for far away objects are now null. We must model for close-ups.
Now, for comparison, lets look at
Realistically, most of the VR content being created today is by either small motivated teams of 1-3 people, or by divisions of larger Special Effects firms who are dipping their toes into the new media. The videogame companies will be coming in strong soon. Hello EA, Blizzard, Epic.
To cut to the chase: consumers expect photorealism, yet there is no way to justify photo-realistic production budgets when the existing audience is effectively non-existent.
The solution, as with most, relies on elegance, not brute force. Extremely low poly models, which perform well on almost any platform, and short-form content, i.e. playtimes less than 5 minutes, are the sweet spot that make modern VR production possible… perhaps even profitable.
2. See our earlier post on Synthesis Universe.