Built to Play dives back into virtual reality through Samsung's Gear VR and by visiting Toronto's VR hub.

Almost a month ago, Samsung announced the Gear VR, a small virtual reality headset. The idea is Oculus already uses Samsung phone screens for its display. In fact their current display is the exact same as the Galaxy Note 4. So why not just use the phone as the virtual reality headset? Plug it into the Gear VR, and BOOM, virtual reality on the go. 

Turns out there's a bunch of reasons why not. Unless the attachment comes with an AC adapter or an extra battery, that phone is going to die within the hour. Not to mention, phone CPUs may be more powerful than ever, but they still pale in comparison to a PC. And that's without getting into the lack of positional tracking.

But don't listen to us. We're a bunch of downers. Listen to E McNeill, better known as E to his friends, the designer of Darknet. He's been working on his virtual reality hacking game since the 2013 VR Jam competition, and will be launching it on Gear VR. He explains the advantages of the platform and dos and don'ts for working on early virtual reality games. You can hear from him 50 seconds into our show. 

Then we visit Toronto's VR Meetup to talk to games designers, programmers and startup heads about the potential of virtual reality. 

Daniel and Arman visited the centre of all virtual reality conversation in Toronto, the almost monthly gathering of enthusiasts in the city's downtown. Usually they meet at a local bar, but this time they visited Verold, a startup making tools for interactive 3D projects on the web. We caught up with our guest from two shows ago, Stephan Tanguay, who manages it.

This session was all about the Oculus Connect, a developer's conference held in downtown Los Angeles. Alternating between keynotes from experts and parties at a Malibu beach house,  Connect was a celebration of Oculus' success and its transition from Kickstarter project to Facebook buyout. John Carmack, co-creator of Doom and chief technology officer at Oculus, gave a speech on the power of the Gear VR, speaking for an hour and a half before being booted off the stage. 

So we chatted with Blair Renaud, the designer of the cyberpunk adventure game, Technolust about his trip to LA. We also went over his history in the game industry, from his time as a technical director at Rockstar working on the original Grand Theft Auto and how he got back into game design. 

Plus, we talk with Bernie Roehl, a programmer and lab instructor at the University of Waterloo who's worked on VR since at least the 90s. He goes through the early challenges of the tech and how far it's progressed. And the CEO of Verold, Ross McKegeny, sat down with us to talk about the ways virtual reality could be used for marketing and education.

To hear from all of these guys, about the Oculus Connect, the Crescent Bay prototype and more, tune it at the 33:00 for the second half of the show. 


The music from this week's episode came from the Free Music Archive. Our opening theme was "Air Hockey Saloon" by Chris Zabriskie. We also used "Spring Solstice" and "Belfast" by Podington Bear, "Hallon" by Christian Bjoerklund, "Family" by Johnny_ripper, "Detective" by Krowne and our end theme was "State Shirt" by Computer. 

Thanks to Leadndros-ntounis at Freesound for "Crowd in a bar."

This episode was written and produced by Daniel Rosen and Arman Aghbali. It was edited by Arman Aghbali.

If you like Built to Play, be sure to recommend it. Reviews help the show like peanut butter helps jam. Feel free to comment and let us know your thoughts below. 

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