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Preparing For A World Of VR And HMDs

DICE's Johan Andersson Talks BF4, Frostbite, Mantle, The Future

Chris: Right, very cool. In that same forward-looking thread, is there any work that you’ve had to do to prepare or enable Frostbite games for this world that we’re coming up on that's eager to explore head-mounted displays and virtual reality. 

Johan: We’re sort of only started getting our feet wet there a little bit and trying out various types of scenarios within our games. There's a lot of people in our multiple game teams here at EA that are excited with VR and HMD type of devices. Also, a little bit, it's difficult to say exactly how our games would be playable with them. Some games fit very well and some you may have a very different type of game play experiences, but usually the experience overall of just exploring a battlefield world with a VR device is actually really quite compelling.

Chris: Yeah.

Johan: We have found a lot of parallelism on the CPU side, which helps a lot because you need to render two views and you need to render the absolute highest frame rate, but most importantly, at very, very low latency. We haven’t done too much work on the latency side, but we've done a lot of work on the performance side. Both in general in the engine, so it's not specific for VR, but it still tremendously benefits VR. I think that's sort of the main area we've been focusing on and we've been running tests with the various APIs and systems out there, just to sort of enable our content creators our game teams to be able to play with it and not be bottlenecked by, okay the engine does not support this so we can't try it, but now we actually have more components working with it. The game creators can try things out and think of the problems from there. There's a lot of difficult challenges, like what do you do with your first-person animation and things like that. We haven’t really thought about it too much yet. That's a lot of work just with your ordinary rendering, but VR it can be from any perspective.

Chris: Right.

Johan: We've been focusing on the engine side mostly just to enable the rest of the game teams to use these things and for focusing on optimization.

Chris: And so knowing the dependencies of those types of environments do you anticipate other developers that don’t have access to as scalable of an engine might encounter difficulty or compatibility issues with them?

Johan: Yeah, I think it will be difficult to just take a standard game that you have and then just bring it over. If you don’t have the performance sure you may be able to prove out like some of the core animation things, but perhaps not the full gameplay. There could be a little bit of a challenge there.

On the other hand, it can actually be a benefit if you're like a small indie developer and you're just starting from scratch and building something and targeting VR...I'm not sure if there are any games like that, there probably are. Just not having the sort of legacy of this big established ways of making games can probably be really quite refreshing there. Sure you could do things like that with Frostbite also, having just a big engine and then you do a very different type of game. We’ll see what we do in the future there. I think it will be quite exciting regardless.

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