My, doesn’t time fly? In my last post, almost a year ago, I mentioned that a friend had invited me to collaborate on a VR project. Well, the fruits of that project are now available to download from Google Play for your Android device with Google Cardboard.
From the store page:
A teacher’s voice instructs you through a short meditation session. You will soon leave your body and witness the Big Bang. As the universe expands through you, look around to manipulate the flow of time.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Though it took up most of my free development time over the past months, I didn’t want to write much about it here, since it wasn’t really my project. While I was the main developer, it was conceived and designed by my friend Paul Gasca, who did a sterling job of coercing various friends and associates into providing music, narration and artwork. I was initially reluctant to promise much, citing a lack of free time (which was and is still true), but also because I wasn’t sure I’d be up to the task of working in a full 3D and VR environment. Luckily, Unity and the VR SDKs that we worked with made it a lot easier than I had expected, and I came away having learned a lot, and finally having gotten over my irrational terror of 3D.
Trancendence was intended as an entry to the Oculus VR Jam, we were required to target the Gear VR platform. Which was a shame, because none of us actually owned one of those, nor could afford to buy one. A friend of Paul’s was able to borrow one from his work. Twice, I think. And we sent early builds to a handful of volunteers found via a meetup group. But to this day I’ve yet to be in the same room as a GearVR and I don’t know if we ever really got it working on there satisfactorily.
In any case, we got a basic version complete and playable on a regular monitor, and decided to press on with it after the Jam ended. Another friend of Paul’s let us try it out on his Oculus DK2, and I actually got to try the thing on real hardware at last. Around the same time, I ordered a cheap Google Cardboard headset, and managed to get its SDK integrated into the Unity project, allowing us to target either a PC with an Oculus Rift, or an Android phone with Cardboard. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked pretty well on my Nexus 5. Given that none of us are in a position to spring $600 for the consumer-edition of the Oculus Rift just yet, we decided to make Android the focus for now.
There’s a lot more that we could have done with it, but we set a cutoff date of Dec. 31st 2015 for new features, to prevent it dragging on forever. A couple of months testing and tweaking later, and it’s live on the Play Store, which is pretty darn gratifying actually. It’s published under the “Washing-Up” banner, since there wasn’t really a name for the team, and I intended to set up a developers account anyway to publish my own stuff. I do feel a certain ownership, but don’t want to take too much credit, since it was very much a team effort and someone else’s vision.
Now that it’s out there, though, my attention turns back to my own stuff …