MARK TAY L OR

Founder, Stel­larVR

EDGE - - ALTERED STATES -

Just over three-and-a-half years ago, Mark Tay­lor was work­ing as an IT an­a­lyst, fix­ing and build­ing servers for a large multi­na­tional com­pany. Since then, he’s quit his day job, founded Stel­larVR, and is now spend­ing his days putting the fin­ish­ing touches to

Korix, his PSVR-based mul­ti­player tower de­fence and re­al­time strat­egy game.

You’ve had quite a jour­ney. How did you be­came a PSVR de­vel­oper?

It all started about six months be­fore [Ocu­lus Rift] DK2 came out. I was just think­ing, ‘This is go­ing to be a game-changer’. I was a gamer in my spare time, and my mind just ex­ploded think­ing about ev­ery­thing you could do with it. And then I just thought, ‘How hard can it be?’ [Laughs] I’d re­cently fixed the plumb­ing in my house be­cause I was dis­ap­pointed with the plumber, so I made a prom­ise to my­self at that mo­ment that rather than play games, I was go­ing to make them.

Did you have any cod­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

I knew ab­so­lutely noth­ing at that point – the clos­est I’d ever got to code was do­ing a lit­tle batch script for a Win­dows server. So I started my one-year drought on play­ing games and in­stead of an hour or two each evening play­ing, I would open up a copy of Unity and started teach­ing my­self C# and Unity game devel­op­ment. I got my DK2 and was mess­ing around with lots of dif­fer­ent con­cepts and ideas. One of the things I came up with was a project called Erad­i­nus

Wars, which was a cock­pit space shooter, but I quickly re­alised that to do some­thing of this scale jus­tice would re­quire an aw­ful lot of work, and more than just me with a lit­tle bit of help from one or two other peo­ple.

So how did Korix come about?

I was on this de­layed flight play­ing Rymd­kapsel and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be awe­some if some­one made this in VR and made it mul­ti­player and re­al­time strat­egy?’ It just cas­caded down from there. I messed around with the con­cept for a good three or four

months and re­leased an al­pha pro­to­type on Ocu­lus Share with four lev­els, and peo­ple seemed to like it.

Why did you make the switch to PSVR?

Sony has a web­site where you can say, ‘Hello, I’d like to de­velop for PlaySta­tion’. I thought it would be cool if it was on PSVR, so I sub­mit­ted a form and in­cluded a build of the pro­to­type and a week or two later I got an email, which ba­si­cally went along the lines of, ‘Hey, Mark, we’ve been play­ing this all af­ter­noon and we love it – do you want to come in for a chat?’ I dropped my mouse, and a few ex­ple­tives came out. I was taken aback that the guys down at Sony would be play­ing my game at all, let alone like it. Sony then pro­vided de­vk­its for the HMD and PS4, and I ported it over and sent them a few builds over a month or two. Then their strate­gic con­tent team got in con­tact and asked me what it would take to make the game big­ger. I said I’d need to quit my day job and fo­cus on it prop­erly, as at that point it was lit­er­ally an hour or two in the evenings and, if I was lucky, some time at the week­ends. And their re­sponse to that was, “OK, let’s talk”.

How did you find the port­ing process?

When I first got the equip­ment, I had it run­ning in three or four days, which I’d say is pretty easy for some­one who’s got lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence! You get ac­cess to a lot of great devel­op­ment tools, which I don’t think I can talk about, but they re­ally do help. The only thing you’ve got to do is a lot of op­ti­mi­sa­tion, and you’ve got to tai­lor your code to work a lit­tle bit bet­ter with the PlaySta­tion plat­form.

How did you find the head­set com­pared to Rift?

What I would say is that the op­ti­cal clar­ity of the PSVR is very, very good, be­cause they don’t use a fres­nel lens. It’s crys­tal clear, and playtesters share that same feel­ing. Also, if you’re go­ing to be wear­ing a head­set for five hours a day do­ing devel­op­ment work, you want it to be re­ally com­fort­able, and PSVR is the most com­fort­able, in my opin­ion.

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