Our week at Game Developer Conference (GDC) 2017 may have ended a few days ago, but we still can’t stop thinking about all that went down. Over the course of a week, we got to demo prototypes of the OSSIC X, peel out of bed to make it to Sight Glass, and listen to our very own Sally’s talk on VR audio workflows and process.
While we were there primarily to show off the OSSIC X, we did get a chance to check out the scene, and here are some of our favorite takeaways:
1. Rock Band VR
Remember spending nights in your college dorm room playing Rock Band? We do too, and the game’s much anticipated VR reimagining is a real upgrade. While we were on the expo floor, we walked over to Harmonix’s booth and played it ourselves. Let’s just say they transformed the gameplay.
Instead of pressing a series of buttons, Rock Band VR focuses on the experience of playing in front of a live audience, where it's more about having fun rather than having the skills. "Instead of technical mastery, what Rock Band VR immediately offers is an experience," says Adi Robertson, a writer from The Verge. "It encourages you not to seek perfection, but to relax and explore — sometimes literally, since you’re able to teleport to different locations around the stage and cozy up to your bandmates."
There’s no real way to fail at the game — the only thing that would happen is you won’t sound good. Rock Band VR is even a standout among the dozen other Oculus-funded games we saw over the weekend.
Rock Band VR will be released on Oculus Rift on March 23rd.
2. Mick Gordon Behind the Music of Doom talk
If you are into game audio, you know one-half of the experience is the music, and this year’s GDC participants were treated to one of the best: Mick Gordon. If you don’t know the name, you definitely would recognize the sound. Gordon is the composer of Doom.
In his mid-week session, the Australian composer and sound designer gave use an inside peak into his compositional processes, product techniques, and creative philosophies. He mainly focused on his latest work and discovers he made with the fourth edition of Doom.
Gordon’s talk was intended for all game audio enthusiasts, and we all defiantly took something away. It gave us a unique insight into the score production and his creative process.
3. AudioKinetic's New Features for VR
In another update on the game-audio realm, Audiokinetic allowed us to demo a suite of new products called Wwise Spatial Audio™. While many people might not get an opportunity to use these tools (unless they work in game development), they are fundamental pieces of technology that allow content creators to develop compelling spatial audio experiences.
“The first few tools within the Wwise Spatial Audio toolset demonstrate Audiokinetic's ongoing research and development in the field of 3D and VR Audio for interactive content,” said Sally Kellaway, Creative Director at OSSIC Studios. “For Content creators, the ability to design, construct and manipulate spaces with sound is critical to our workflow. Tools like the Wwise Reflector and 3D Busses allow Content Creators more complex methods to achieve more immersive sound in their interactive content.”
These toolsets will give the ability for game audio designers to manipulate virtual acoustics in their games. Meaning, if a game developer creates an environment, the sounds emitted in that environment will behave realistically, or unrealistically (depending on what the environment requires!), creating a deeper level of game immersion.
5. Sprint Vector by Survios
In another VR title demoed at GDC, Survios wants you to do one thing with Sprint Vector: have fun while going fast. The team is following this game from an entirely different experience from Raw Data, a highly polished first-person shooter.
“Sprint Vector is completely different from Raw Data,” said a Survios representative. “We kept hearing that natural locomotion is impossible in VR. It makes people too nauseous. So instead of giving in to that we decided to prove them wrong. In this game players are not just walking or strolling, they are running jumping flying on the ground through the air using our fluid locomotion.”
The fluid locomotion system is the main component for the title. The game’s objective is to put your arms in front of you and push the world away. In turn, you blast up buildings or around race tracks. You race your friends or the computer and attain speeds up to 300 miles per hour.
If you want to play this game at home, you will have to wait. While the game exists as a prototype on HTC Vive, release date, price, and platform for the game are sparse.
6. Facebook Slashes the price of the Oculus Rift by $200
Facebook announced a $100 cut in the price for both Oculus Rift’s headset and controller — which brings down the price of the total package from $800 to $600. This decrease in the pricing represents the strongest attempt to get the Oculus and VR into the hand of mainstream gamers and average consumers.
“VR is still such a new medium to so many people out there, and the immersion provided by Oculus has always come at a high cost,” said Drew Downie, OSSIC Brand Director. “With this price point reduction for the best VR products, it’s a huge step forward to the mass adoption of VR — and that means an increased need for immersive audio."
The price of the headset is now $500 with the Touch controllers at $100. When Facebook launched the Rift in March 2016, the headset could only be played with an Xbox controller. Last December, the Touch controllers were then added to create a more immersive experience. According to some sources, the hardware have been sold at cost. But since last year under the new direction of Hans Hartmann, the Chief Operations Officer, the costs have come down.
7. Karnage Chronicles
In another VR title, the team at Nordic Trolls was on hand to demo their unreleased game, Karnage Chronicles. This Unreal Engine 4 VR action game is heavy on fantasy and makes you feel like you are in the world.
Our very own Joshua James even streamed a demo over Facebook Live at their both. As you can tell from the video, this game not only does a lot of the visual aspects of the game well but also provides another avenue for spatial audio.
“As you can see, there’s a lot going on in the game and a lot of things you can spotlight with spatial audio,” said James. “For instance, [you will] be able to hear your companion in the cave and hear that acoustic response of him talking to you but not right next to your ear. But you hear the echo from the cave wall.”
It’s a great upcoming VR game that we’re super excited about.
What was your favorite part of GDC? Let us know in the comments.