We have already had occasion to speak about Radial-G on Oculus Rift Italy. It is a version of wipeout for virtual reality. The concept is about moving into futuristic vehicles in races at the speed of light. And, for the first time, you can experience the thrill of racing sitting right inside the cockpit. Like all the experiences that put you inside of a vehicle, Radial-G is perfect for virtual reality, and during our hands-on we found that the sense of presence that manages to evoke is extraordinary. But we wanted to learn more, and for that we came in contact with the producer of the game, Sam Watts of Tammeka Games, to learn more about this interesting experiment.

How did you get the idea for Radial-G?

It came to us naturally through our combined love of racing games and VR throughout the team. If there’s two things we do well, it’s racing and VR; having worked on both serious VR simulation for years and previously for AAA racing game studios, it was an easy choice to make our first game based on this genre. To set it in the future seemed a logical choice without another wipeout or F-Zero visible in the near future.

Can you describe which kind of feeling will the players have while playing Radial-G?

Most likely an amzing sense of immersion and presence, as they feel the cockpit wrap around them and ensconse them in their future bubble of speed. We have done everything we can to ensure the one thing they WON’T feel is sick!

How was your creative process influenced and changed by Oculus Rift?

We designed the game for VR from the ground up, using the years of experience we gained from developing serious high-end simulators, combined with our experience of what makes a great racing game. Whislt most of us play racing games from the cockpit view anyway, we knew we had to ensure those who prefer the 3rd person, rear-view camera would cope as well. However we intend in adding this camera option in future.


Which techniques did you use to create a sense of immersion in the user?

Putting them in the cockpit helps as soon as you put the Rift on. We need to add a body though as at the moment, there is a slight disconnect when you look down and see the seat only. The sense of depth to the world and addition of the volumetric fog and lighting really helps the user feel as if they are in a futuristic racer.

As a game developer, which are the things that you can do with virtual reality that you wouldn’t otherwise do?

Provide that level of connection and immersion like never before. Anyone who tries the Rift finds it hard to go back to staring at a flat TV screen afterwards. VR gives the player a chance to look around naturally, using what they do in the real world, their eyes and their head to do so without having to use this chaotic joystick input. The number of games that break the game with terrible camera control should be dramatically reduced by placing the emphasis on the player.

And, on the contrary, which are the obstacles and the challenges derived from virtual reality?

The main one is ensuring the content is solid and stable, locked on a high frame rate so there is no stuttering or drops in performance. This greatly reduces immersion and presence but also adds to the sickness feeling. Finally it comes down to latency and expecting the display to accurately match the head movements.


Which games do you think are best suitable for the Oculus Rift?

Games that put you in a cockpit, like space shooters and racing games, as well as exploration games where you can move about slowly. Anything with too fast foot movement is a sure way to make people feel sick as it doesn’t feel natural.

Do you think that VR games are going to become as popular as traditional games in the future?

We certainly hope so! Once the consumer editions of the various VR devices are released to the public, hopefully at a sensible price point, it will become more mainstream and popular. There will always be a sect of gamers who will staunchly refuse to believe in VR but most we’ve seen who are against it, once they try it they soon change their minds!

What is your dream project for the Oculus Rift?

Working on a futuristic racing game where loads of players are battling hard against each other on the track, all in glorious high res, smooth framerates and gloriously designed worlds. Kind of like the one I’m working on already.

Which future do you see for virtual reality? Do you think is something that can change the way people live? If yes, how?

I think there are a few possibilities for the future. A bleak one is where everyone loses the will to go outside and remains stuck inside with VR headsets stuck to their faces whilst civilisation crumbles around them. A more positive one is where it enables the human race to come together and participate in global events as one without worry nor need for represenation of race, creed nor religion. I expect we’ll end up somewhere in between, as with all forms of technology, there will be those who embrace it, those who shun it and those who use it for the purposes they are comfortable with.