God Mode: become a VR games dev
Have you seen Ready Player One? In a not-too-distant future, the film depicts humanity spending most of its time in a virtual world called the Oasis. Built by fictional software genius James Halliday, the Oasis becomes a refuge for the world’s population in the face of grim living conditions in the real world due to a breakdown in geopolitics and overpopulation. In this VR world, you can be anyone or anything you want, go anywhere you like, and live out your fantasies. It’s like Second Life on steroids.
As creator of the Oasis, Halliday is a godlike figure. Doesn’t every geek harbour a desire to be the dungeon master, the creator, the all-knowing in a world where others come to play? Maybe that’s why one reviewer called Ready Player One a ‘nerdgasm’.
The VR gear in the film resembles what we have today. There’s the VR headset, albeit a more advanced version, and some nifty haptics that current technology is touching on but hasn’t yet perfected. This proximity to the present places Ready Player One in the category of speculative fiction rather than science fiction; it’s stuff that’s only just around the corner, not millennia away, and represents a recognisable extrapolation of the present rather than a mistily distant, currently inaccessible quantum leap in tech.
The real James Halliday may already be alive. Somebody tinkering with VR today might create a vast, open world that is so real and inviting that it sucks in most of humanity. It’s already been tried with Second Life; Halliday’s world would be merely an evolution of that. But the fictional Halliday was extremely smart and had a lot of experience with software. The next Hallliday will need to have a similar skillset.
Building the Oasis is just a matter of raising, oh, about a trillion dollars just to get things started. Part of this money will pay the armies of developers needed to build and maintain the virtual world. Would you like to be one of them? Experienced VR developers will know what to do. Noobs could do a lot worse than taking a course like the Complete VR Development Bundle, which gets you to grips with Unity and WebVR and takes you through five courses that are bundled together at a 90% discount.
The HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR are all dropping in price, smartphone VR is improving significantly, and Google and Facebook are betting big on standalone VR helmets. It’s taking a long time, but virtual reality is slowly working its way into the mainstream. So now’s the time to consider becoming a pro VR dev – and maybe build the Oasis.