We recently demoed The Climb, a new virtual reality game from Crytek. At our demo session, we had the opportunity to chat with Jason Rubin, the Head of Worldwide Studios at Oculus, about his role in working with developers to make great virtual reality games for the launch of the Oculus Rift. The following is a transcript of our conversation, which you can also watch in our preview video for The Climb.
Tested: Jason, you work with game developers to make games for the Oculus Rift. What's been your experience working with those devs making their first virtual reality games?
Jason Rubin: My job is to bring great titles to the Oculus platform at launch and thereafter, and make sure that we push VR forward and kind of do new things and experiment--experimentation that might not happen if Oculus didn't get out there and get involved in the developer community. We bring best practices, finances, production expertise, and things like that. And we've had a lot of takers.
When I started, I thought it was going to be a job about convincing people to develop for VR. Turns out that's actually the easiest thing I do--I just drop off a development kit, and the minute it's in some studio, the studio immediately wants to work on it. I end up giving them more kits and people come up with ideas. So I spend a lot of my time working on best practices, making games comfortable, making them novel and unique, scoping things, and then making sure the games actually happen.
Do you find that the first wave of what the developers try to make end up all being similar? What are the things they gravitate toward that aren't necessarily the things that you want to push for Oculus?
We have a difficult challenge because we have 30 years of game development behind us as a community. Obviously, we've come up with ideas we really like, that are also extremely fun, some of which work really well in virtual reality, and some of which don't. But also importantly, we've opened up an entirely new realm of games that could be created--it's hard to say "you have a year, go create new stuff." It takes time to experiment, and it takes time to come up with those new ideas.
[Crytek's] The Climb is one of those things where I walked into a pitch for--"things we think would be cool in VR"--there were a slew of ideas on the table, and I just latched onto this idea of climbing. It was extremely well prototyped, it was comfortable, it was fun, and you could see the hook there immediately. On top of that, one of the demos that we had been giving at Oculus that was most well received was standing at the edge of a building. So I knew people really liked the immersion and the presence that VR brings, like that kind of butterflies-in-your-stomach moment when you're looking out over the edge. Here was a title that could bring that to the gamer, but also offer really compelling gameplay. So we decided to focus on this, and Crytek was extremely excited to get going and focus on that specific idea and flesh it out into something that's a wide ranging and compelling gameplay experience.