Creating Worlds in VR

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Creating Worlds in VR
---N--PHIA-Phia Master Assets Folder-Thumbnails-TVRS006Clean.JPG
TVRS Episode 6's Thumbnail
Date April 6, 2020
Duration 22:58
Previous episode The Future of Fashion is Virtual! (Chloma)
Next episode Experience Studio Ghibli in VR
Link YouTube


Creating Worlds in VR is the sixth episode of The Virtual Reality Show. In this episode, PHIA talks to Xander Morgan about his game development passion and his project based on Porter Robinson's Worlds Live Tour, FlickerVR.

Video

Video Description

Welcome to episode 6, where I talk to Xander Morgan about his passion for game development and his personal project “FlickerVR” which is a tribute of love to Porter Robinson’s Worlds album. Xander is a huge Porter fan and decided to bring this imaginary world found inside the song Flicker to life by creating a physical space of which you can immerse yourself in. Take a look inside the mind of a passionate game dev, and how (through the power of VR) he was able to bring “worlds” to life!

Transcript

PHIA: Hey everybody, welcome back to The Virtual Reality Show! My name is PHIA, and I'm your host. Today we have a special guest here, who's Xander! (laughs) So, Xander's here, he's actually-

Xander: How's it going everybody?

PHIA: (laughs) How's it going, Xander? He's here, he actually works in VR, or used to work in VR, and has a FlickerVR, like, Porter Robinson fan project that you've worked on.

Xander: That's right

PHIA: So, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself, and kind of what you- what you do?

Xander: Okay, so my name is Xander, I'm from San Fransisco, California, originally. I've been working in games for the past, it's like, four to five years now. I've wanted to be a video game designer since I was about, like ten or eleven years old, and I went to school at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts Game Program, and from there, that was my first ever taste of actually, like, developing for VR. One of the things I'm most proud of my time there was for my junior year thesis project, we were one of the only VR projects for students there, and this was back in, like, the Oculus DK2 days, and we actually were one of the first to use, like, motion controllers as, like, a form of controlling VR, and we did that way before the Vive or the Oculus Touch or anything was a thing back then. So, me and VR we've kind of been, you know, I've been in VR for pretty much my entire, like, professional life up until very recently, and yeah, that's kind of who I am.

PHIA: So, you've been working in VR for quite some time then, but the biggest thing that you've, like, shared with everybody online, and that I've been seeing online is actually your FlickerVR project. So I'd love for you to go ahead and kind of talk about that a little bit. Xander went ahead and sent me the most recent build of FlickerVR, which was super duper cool, I got to try that out. So I kinda wanna hear about like, when did you start this, why did you make it, all that fun stuff, you know?

Xander: So, I started working on it, and I think it was November of 2018. Basically what it is, is Porter had Second Sky, and he had an art competition, like a fan-art competition, that he was accepting submissions for, and I started working on this project, like way before I even knew the festival was thing. I started working on it just as something to, you know, work on for myself. I've been working in games for quite some time, but I never actually made anything just by myself, I've always been working with groups of people. So, I started this as just a way to, you know, pass the time and get better at my craft, and it just so happened that the timing worked out where I got to actually submit it as part of the competition. I didn't get in, because it turned out that they were just looking for visuals and videos and paintings to post on the LED screen.

PHIA: That's so sad!

Xander: It's fine, like, I get it. It would've been a whole thing to set up a bunch of VR headsets and stuff, but, even though I made it and didn't get in, I still wanted to show it to people at the festival, so I ported it to the Oculus Quest and actually snuck the headset in, through security and demoed to over 30 people at the festival.

PHIA: That's so awesome, cause I remember that's how I found you, actually, is that you posted about it online. I remember you posting about FlickerVR and I saw it, and I was like, "Wow, this is such a cool idea and concept!" Unfortunately I never ran into you at the festival, so I never got to try it out there, but all the people who did were extremely lucky.

Xander: I should probably explain what it is. Basically, in Porter's live show, Worlds Live, all those visuals very evoked like a sense of place and the one that I identify with the most, the one that I kind of had the clearest vision of was the visuals for Flickr, and also they kept the live edit for the song.

PHIA: Hmmmm...

Xander: So it's basically just a bunch of floating cubes in like anime landscape. And I figured that when I saw that I figured, you know, that would be pretty easy for someone with my limited skills like to remake, because again it's just a bunch of floating cubes and stuff.

PHIA: Right.

Xander: So I tried to basically recreate that entire that entire scene of the live show but in full 3d using Unreal Engine and kind of make a little VR music video out of it.

PHIA: Well, you did such a good job because like the first moment when I was in there, I remember specifically standing on this giant like green aqua colored cube, and you have this flag sitting over to the side that's Porter's logo with the cow emoji face. And when you press start for everything to start going, the cube slowly like pops into existence and you start seeing them in all the different colors and you hear the music playing and then all of these flower blossoms start blowing in and it felt just like as if you were inside the music! Inside of the visuals for the song because I know I would listen to it live all the time and I love the, you know, the visuals for them so it was so cool for me as someone who really bonds with that. So then, to have you send over your version of Flickr where you could really like immerse yourself and be a part of it and I think that's the coolest thing ever is bringing worlds to life. So incredible job!

(not finished beyond this point)

Xander: Oh thank

you so much PHIA. It makes me really really happy to hear

that. I mean that's that's ultimately

went once I figured out that once I

thought about that this pan our

commutation was a thing that's kind of

that was kind of my driving force was

wanting to share this with people that

also understood exactly what it was I

was friend create and I think that a big

theme of worlds as an album was

fictional worlds existing for fleeting

moments in time and that was something

that I tried to really capture with that

you know like this was this was some

little world that I created that I could

show people in that for that one day in

that one moment of time to kind of bring

people into that into that world that

doesn't exist but is something that

everybody there really knew very well

you know absence and that's yeah and it

just so happened that it just so

happened that that whole scene even even

though it was you know very visually

striking and very evocative for me

personally and for a lot of other people

I'm sure it was simple enough to where I

didn't it was simple enough and the

visuals were clear enough in that moment

of the live show was clear enough to

where I could focus on just trying to

make it look as true to the original

vision as possible I didn't have to

worry

too much about putting my own kind of

spin or interpretation on I did do a

little bit of that like flag the flag

doesn't exist in any of them any of the

visuals pipe I wanted to put that there

because I wanted to put that there and

also the soccer particles to kind of

make you to kind of make the player feel

like there's when rushing against them

kind of subtly give them more of that

sense of that's so cool to hear you say

that because it definitely that was one

of them are striking things for me is

seeing the world itself have a life you

know to see the wind blowing and the

flag blowing and stuff and it does feel

like you escape to that world and um you

know that's so cool for me because

that's one of the reasons that I love

yours so much is that I've always been a

big like escapist and I love thinking

about all these faraway worlds that you

can never visit and that's one of the

reasons I love Porter's music as well is

because world takes you to those other

places you know it's creating this thing

inside your mind that then you get to UM

experience in your own way and it's so

cool that you literally then took that

and created an actual place that people

can literally go to an experience in but

I don't know it is just such a cool it's

so cool how all the things are on hold

together in that way so I really really

appreciative of that

Oh again I'm super duper stoked to hear

that because he one of the most one of

the things about making games or VR or

just creating anything in general is

when you're making something you're

constantly iterating you're constantly

making little changes and playing the

whole thing back all over again

and when you do that Yuki it's

impossible it's it's really hard to take

a step back and see what it is that

you're making you know for what it is

because again you've just seen it so

many times and you've seen it from it's

it's it's conception when it is you know

just a bunch of just like a bunch of

like gray I was gonna say a bunch of

gray cubes but that's you know it's very

early stages and you've seen it just

slowly progress over time it's

impossible it's really hard to see

exactly what it is that you have in

front of you and to show the people and

and to have them

you know to have them tell you how you

know how how awesome it is or how

profound it is like that I don't know

it's a pretty indescribable feeling so

everybody who got to try it I was

definitely the best day of my entire

life for a lot of reasons because of

that day so moving on from Flickr VR I

want to talk a little bit more about

like um as far as development goes why

what reasons do you have for wanting to

do VR development rather than just

normal videogame development what about

it appeals to you well I should probably

clarify and say I don't work on VR

anymore I actually work for respawn on

apex legends which is you know working

for respawn was you know a really really

big thank you yeah I wanted to work for

them ever since I was like 14 years old

when I played the the call duty for beta

so it's a pretty big deal but the reason

why this all kind of ties into VR and to

the whole Flickr VR thing was because by

doing that by doing that project that

actually gave me the experience I needed

for developing for the oculus quest and

like building on oculus quest to work on

my next project at the company I was

working at before Brad

and then you know having the experience

to know how to do that helped build my

portfolio which then led to me getting a

job at respawn one of the other things I

really wanted to talk about was was just

like you know why people make video

games people who make video games they

don't do it for for money per se this is

always going to be more money to be

earned or made and more I don't know

like more security working and working

at like Facebook or Google or something

like that you know people in games we we

do it and we do it because we love what

we do because we love our craft and we

love other we love working with other

game developers you know a lot of it

comes down to you know having those on

no problems and trying to you know solve

them and back in you know means staying

up really late and trying to try to

figure stuff out and and that's just one

of the things that I really admire the

most about every set everybody that I

really met in the games industry you

know

everybody's so willing to you know put

in you know all that time and effort and

and and manpower and if you know into

what they love is because they love

doing it that's awesome and that's you

know that's exactly how it should be as

doing the things you love and when you

are doing something that you love it's

so much easier to make progress and make

innovation and all of that cool stuff so

it's so you know it's so inspiring to

see all these people out there who are

doing it like you said maybe not

necessarily for the money but just

because it's what they love to do and so

much so much great human invention comes

out of that so very very cool to hear

about and we're always at the and game

development you know we're always at the

very cutting edge of technology

everything from graphics to physics the

networking you know we're always

especially the triple-a level and or and

in VR we're always looking for always

looking to push down below that's

something that that's something that a

lot of you know fans of video games

expect from us so you know getting to

always work with you know the latest

technologies the latest concepts look

even as far as like that yeah like all

that stuff you know that's something

that is easily my for one of my favorite

parts about working games I would really

like to talk about all the people that I

met at second sky and everybody that had

the chance I know yeah it's you know I

worked on that thing for about seven

months again even before even before you

know the festival was even a thing and

you know I I'm gonna be really honest

like the very beginning at the beginning

of 2019 I I was really really depressed

like really really I didn't really you

know know like what it was that I wanted

to do like I was starting to wonder if

like making games was really what I

wanted out of life then you know when

the festival got announced in I had this

I saw this opportunity to make something

and you know show it to people and

really see their reactions firsthand you

know I really pushed myself friend do

that and see them really late and I had

a lot of help from a lot of my close

friends and co-workers you know they I

would really would not have been able

make it happen without their without

their guidance and without their ideas

and then actually getting to the

festival and you know showing people

firsthand that understood exactly what

it was that I was trying to make him

what was that I was trying to say that

was like one of the most creative with

sewing things I've ever done in my

entire life isn't it when people

understand what you're trying to do and

they appreciate it for what it is and

they see what you're doing because I

totally feel that way with all my vr

stuff that I'm doing it's the best

feeling when people are like hey this is

awesome I love what you're doing it

makes it makes it all worth it and it

gives you a purpose you know because I

know what you mean when you're um saying

like beforehand it's really hard when

you're feeling really depressed and

you're kind of like what am I supposed

to do and then they have something that

you can pour all this time and effort an

energy in it and it's just therapy

that's what it is it makes me feel so

much better when you know you're doing

something that's affecting people and

gonna put a smile on their face and you

know that you were able to do that it's

the coolest cooze feeling yeah

absolutely it's a really weird balance

just right to like just trying to strike

the balance between like making

something for yourself something that's

really personal to you but also making

something that other people will enjoy I

do have one crazy story though so I was

at for New Year's this year near 2020 I

was at this festival in San Bernardino

called countdown and Porter was actually

he was actually bringing in the new year

he was the one dropping the ball and I

was in the crowd waiting for him to come

on and this guy tapped me on the

shoulder and he's like he's Andrew and

I'm like yeah and he's like dude I you

show me your you show me VR at

second at second sky and I liked you so

much that I actually went out and bought

a quest just so that I can do it you

know I talked to you on reddit you send

me a bill and I said I do it every day I

showed it to people and his girlfriend

was there and she was like yeah he shows

it to literally everybody and that was

like one of most mind-blowing things

ever because you know as someone as you

know as someone who you know used to

work in PR and I did at the time you

know we always try to be evangelists

before the media you know we always try

to they always try to get as many people

into it as possible and to hear that

this from you know my stupid thing that

I made you know my spree time to have

that you know affect him in such a

profound enough way where he went out

and bought a headset just just to do

that like that was crazy to me I really

believed what he was saying that story

makes me really happy it's so cool but

somebody you know acted by you and like

wanted to go out and get it yeah that's

definitely a big thing for me too is I

love getting people in civvy are and

inspiring them with that and so love

that story so thank you for sharing that

so for anybody who is interested in

Flickr VR watching this video how should

they go about trying it out for

themselves

yeah I'm really torn on that because on

the one hand I would really like to

share with people but on the other hand

if that is definitely not I definitely

do not have the rights to porters music

or so order if you're out there I would

love to share with people especially

during this kind of tough time where you

know people are cooped up in their

houses and it would really mean a lot to

be able to bring people into your world

and to have that people have that sense

of escape for just like you know a few

minutes out of their lives so if you're

out there I would really like to send it

to you and other people so if that's

okay I would be more than willing to

make that happen but for the moment you

can follow me on Twitter and I'll post

the the trailers and stuff like that on

there

so anybody interested in Xander's work

then definitely check out his Twitter

I'll be linking that in the description

um check out all the stuff there

hopefully hopefully your your plate is

heard and we can try and get the groovy

are out there for everyone do you wanna

do you want to talk a little bit about

what the future of VR is gonna be like I

don't know I'm curious to hear where do

you think you are is gonna go like do

you think the next like big step is the

next big step um well in the near future

I think the biggest thing we're looking

at right now is that we're seeing V or

make this really interesting shift from

being a like fun technology to being a

household technology um we saw you know

all the headsets of

sold out over the holiday this past year

so tons and tons of people are getting

VR and so I do think the next thing is

that it's going to become more

mainstream we're gonna get more games

like half-life Alex coming in you know

those also coming soon is a Medal of

Honor

above and beyond vault by respawn I

didn't work on it but you know it's

coming out soon so it's done for it also

um the whole Facebook horizons I know

that that's in its beta right now that I

think is kind of the first step that us

getting like this almost like MMO

because we have the our chat right now

but it's not integrated into social

media and I think that's gonna be a real

shifting point for the future is when we

suddenly see virtual reality become the

way we interact over social media we're

gonna see some really interesting

connections there so that's my

prediction I definitely agree with you

in that it's like what we were talking

about earlier we're all video game

technologies kind of disseminate into

all other aspects of life right and I

can definitely see that happening with

VR even if it isn't already happening

now I think the most important thing

that's happened recently is the quest

the fact that you know it's this all in

one it's all in one headset that you can

that you can buy for 400 bucks it has

everything you need and you can and most

importantly you can do it anywhere you

know desktop VR will always be will you

know for the foreseeable future be

better than you know mobile VR but the

fact that you can have the same exact

experience anywhere and you know maybe

you don't have enough room and you're in

your your bedroom where your computer is

to you know be able to do that but you

can do it in your living room that's

really huge and being able to you know

kind of do it I did too and bring it

into a festival and show like rain

people and kind of bring people in there

that's also really huge to UM in the

future though like whenever I want to

have a better idea of where the are is

going to go

I always watch Michael Abrash who's

talks at oculus connect he's the chief

scientist at face book reality labs and

he was actually one of the original guys

that worked at its software with John

Carmack

and he always doesn't talk every year at

oculus connect about what his

predictions for the future of you are

will be and as most

one he was talking about how bogey ated

rendering is going to be is going to

really change the game once we have good

eye tracking so exactly yeah so being

able to you know track where your track

where you're looking in the headset and

only render that exact part where you're

looking and you know really high

fidelity and kind of have everything

being lower fidelity that means that you

know that basically will enable all

these desktop class experiences to be

experience of something as small and you

know light as the oculus quest important

that's really cool yeah and then the

other thing that the other thing that I

really see changing the game is recently

Facebook and oculus wired a company

called control labs they make

non-invasive brain-computer interfaces

so there's this business crazy video out

there of this guy wearing this wristband

and he's able to basically move objects

in a game in like unity or something

like that with really really accurate

precision accurate tracking without even

moving just by thinking that's kind of

where I think VR is gonna go in your

future and it's also gonna get cheaper

and more even more practical than the

quest and you know hopefully that'll be

where you absolutely I hope it expands

and I hope for you get to see all of

these crazy technologies come soon so

let's hope for the best that I um I

think you're a pretty good shot so far

just the way things are looking

but um was there anything else you

wanted to share today just uh thank you

to everybody who I showed flicker the

arcuate ii sky thank you to you know

obviously porter for you know for being

you know such an inspiration and for you

know like being my biggest inspiration

if I wasn't so inspired to do this and

to make this you know I wouldn't be

where I am in life right now so it's

that's pretty awesome well thank you so

much Andy thank you so much for being

here it's been a pleasure having you on

the virtual reality show I really love

their discussion and her talk today um

for everybody thank you here oh you're

so welcome

for everybody watching if you want to

check out Xander's work like I said go

ahead and check in the description link

and if you want to talk more about VR or

just like you know Flickr of your or any

other time

then go ahead and join my discord I have

a link to that in the description we're

always talking about fun stuff related

um as far as that goes go ahead and

subscribe to the virtual reality show

channel we're gonna be having many many

many more videos just like this there's

also a whole bunch of other videos I

have where we talk about some of the

things that me and Xander covered today

go ahead and give this video a big

thumbs up I've been your host via and I

will see you on next episode

Phialurk.png
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Trivia

  • This is the first episode of The Virtual Reality Show to not include the episode number in the title. This is to subtly inform newcomers that it is not necessary to watch all the previous episodes to understand the video's context. The previous episodes would later have their numberings dropped from their titles to allow easy reading.

Vocabulary