With the world of Virtual Reality growing at a fast pace, Microsoft’s Veterans got together and created a concept that will take gaming to a whole new level. Developed by acclaimed men in the business, Drifter Entertainment is sure to get a lot of people talking.
A handful of developers with plenty of experience working on “next big thing” projects have formed a new start up that looks to combine two of the most buzzworthy fields in the industry today. Co-founders Ray Davis, Kenneth Scott, and Brian Murphy today announced Drifter Entertainment, their new development studio dedicated to bringing eSports to virtual reality with games that are “built for social.”
While both eSports and VR are emerging fields, the founding trio has an abundance of experience working in uncharted territory. Before his most recent post as GM for Unreal Engine 4, Davis was a CTO on Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality project. Murphy was a designer and creative director at Microsoft, working on HoloLens as well as Kinect and the Xbox One platform. Scott’s background is more steeped in traditional AAA development, serving as art director on Halo 4 and lead artist on Doom 3, but he is coming off a stint at Oculus directing a development team working in VR.
We’re passionate about the opportunity to finally bring our vision to life,” Davis said. “Virtual reality represents a rare opportunity to build an entirely new generation of game experiences to completely immerse yourself in. We’re combining our expertise in crafting incredibly polished games along with our early expertise with VR to build some truly amazing (and fun!) games for these emerging platforms.”
Drifter plans to make action games for VR headsets; in particular, it will focus on the headsets that support good motion controls such as the HTC Vive, the Oculus Touch and Oculus Rift, and the PlayStation VR. The company has about five working for it at the moment. And the founders are working on raising a seed round.
We’re about to start dramatically growing our team,” Davis said.
Murphy said in an interview that he spent the last four years with the HoloLens team, and he also helped launch Kinect.
“I round out some of the creative energy on the team,” said Murphy. “I’ve spent my career building new platforms and launching games on them. I’ve had a focus on more of the casual and enterprise apps. I bring solid design on emerging platforms.”
Davis said one of the challenges for VR is to solve movement in shooter games.
“Teleportation works well, but nobody is excited about it,” Davis said. “We’d like to build a shooter that embraces teleportation and turns it into a first-class feature.”
Davis noted that using motion, such as physical movements that match actions such as loading a gun, or drawing a pistol, are exciting things that you can only do in VR.
Scott added, “VR is deeply personal. Designers need to accommodate it, especially when it comes to comfort. It doesn’t map one to one to anybody. This is one thing this team has been dealing with.”
And Murphy said, “When you design something, you have an ego that says it works for me. We realized it takes a lot of testing and experimentation. If you try to build a game for a million people, and one out of 10 get sick in a playtest, that means you’ll have 100,000 people who get sick from it. You have to take the comfort very seriously.”
As for the name, the founders said it evoked the image of Clint Eastwood in films such as High Plains Drifter. But instead of drifting through the Wild West, you would drift through one universe and another in VR.
“VR is still early days,” Davis said. “It’s hard to do one with such big scope. But we want to build a game that speaks to the power of VR.”
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