PlayStation VR Conversations: ZeroTransform

In this edition of PlayStation VR Conversations, we talk to Justin Moravetz, Founder of ZeroTransform. The former Sony Computer Entertainment America employee has worked on games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Resistance: Retribution. He’s now working on Vanguard V, a flight action game specifically designed for virtual reality.

Find out below why you should check out Vanguard V once it releases on PlayStation VR!

PlayStation LifeStyle: What are the additional challenges in developing a game that uses virtual reality?

Justin Moravetz: Virtual reality doesn’t conform to the existing game development methods that the industry has evolved over the decades. Early developers are now pioneering the most basic concepts in VR design like traversal, story telling, cinematic events, and many other aspects in a game that we take for granted. Even the most basic interface, a gamepad controller, has to be designed from the ground up.

On a technical level, we are facing interesting challenges in performance. VR titles must maintain a framerate of 90 fps or higher while rendering the scene twice and in HD. That is not an easy challenge for sure.

PSLS: Is virtual reality the next step in evolving the medium of video games?

JM: We’ve seen major steps in gaming that changed the industry and advanced technology faster than I could every imagine. I see VR as big, if not bigger, than the jump we made from sprite graphics to rendering 3D polygons. We can now immerse gamers in digital worlds like never before. This can be a very powerful experience.

PSLS: Do you feel that to make the best possible VR experiences, a game has to be developed from the ground up for VR? Or do you believe that current games can be adapted?

JM: I whole heartily believe that the best virtual reality experiences have to built from day one for VR. All new platforms undergo a transitional period where previous titles attempt to wedge their way in. Some find great success like Elite: Dangerous, while others are finding it a difficult fit. The titles I develop start with the head mounted display as the primary control input. I don’t rely on a controller. With VR front and center during development, I’m discovering experiences that are not simply cooler in VR, but its made better by it.

PSLS: How important is immersion to the experience, and making sure the game doesn’t break away from it?

JM: Immersion gives the sense that surrounds a player.  This is the most powerful aspect in VR.  The next step beyond immersion is the sense of presence.  The difference is that its easy to surround someone in a scene, but it takes special care to give the player the feeling that they’re physically there as a person instead of an observer.  We now treat the gamer as a single entity throughout the entire experience with the titles in production.  Every cinematic, transition, and gameplay element is specifically designed around maximizing the sense of presence.

PSLS: How is Vanguard V enhanced by Virtual Reality?

JM: Vanguard V has familiar elements of game design that stem from previous titles.  It started out as a prototype to explore control methods for head mounted display input.  I discovered that anyone can be an expert pilot when you give someone the ability to control flight by simply looking to where they want to go.  We’ve all seen people lean one direction or another while playing games even though it would do nothing to help Mario jump over a bottomless pit.  Vanguard V uses what comes to us naturally to enable anyone to fly.  Can’t wait to share how else we’ll be using unique aspects of VR gameplay to mix things up.

PSLS: Do you think PlayStation VR will get the same amount of support as other VR devices such as the Oculus Rift?

JM: The Oculus Rift has the benefit on being available on a platform you can buy at a store and start developing on.  This will always produce more experiences.  However, the more fully realized titles will stand out and find homes on all the VR platforms.  The PlayStation 4 is a fantastic platform to develop on.  Its parallels in PC development enable me to focus on a core set of challenges and not have to worry as much on cross platform hardware differences.  Sony has done an excellent job reaching out to indie VR devs so I know we’ll see great things on [PlayStation VR].

A big thank you to both Justin Moravetz and the team at ZeroTransform for doing the interview. You can stay up to date on Vanguard V, over on their website and Twitter.

PlayStation VR Conversations is a recurring interview feature where developers talk about the learning process of developing for virtual reality, and the future of video games.

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