Richard and Victor went to Oculus Connect last week. It sounds like it was really cool, so we interviewed them to find out what they got up to!
Tell me about what you were most looking forward to at OC6.
Richard: At any conference it’s meeting people – meeting people I haven’t met before, meeting people from previous events. I probably wouldn’t go to events if I knew we wouldn’t have the benefits from meeting people there and learning from them.
Victor: For me it was mostly actually dev questions, because I am a dev and I run into problems all the time and going to Oculus Connect gives me the opportunity to speak to them face to face and gain a deeper understanding of the tech stack.
Can you give me a quick rundown on what your schedule looked like for the two days? What did you get up to on the days you were there?
V: So the first day we went to the keynote that everyone goes to, and then we basically set out on our ways of meeting various people, going to various talks. And then the second day we went to women in VR event which is a breakfast, I think that’s very important and cool, I met some cool people there, and then we had to rush off to the airport after the talk on the second day. That’s my personal schedule, what about you Richard?
R: Yeah mine was pretty similar, had time for a few drinks here and there, but fun fact on the women’s breakfast, we have more female staff than male staff!
Yeah that’s something we are really proud about.
R: Yeah so, we were representing our female staff back home which was good fun.
Ok awesome. So at OC6, did you meet anyone super cool?
V: Well I met John Carmack..
That IS super cool!
V: So on the first day of OC6, dinner is provided and everyone is having good times on the floor chatting to people, and I suddenly spotted John Carmack going his way with a burger, so I decided to walk along with him and had several minutes face to face, one on one with him before he decided to sit down and have some more chat. Then we were discovered, basically, and everyone rushed in, and it turned into almost a church session where everyone was listening to John Carmack talk about VR.
But my main takeaway from that is that John is not just a programmer for cool tech, his focus is mainly on user experience: if the tech doesn’t serve the user value then forget about it. And secondly, he’s not a believer in AR, and one point he brought up during our talk and he repeated the next day in his keynote, AR is something that looks cool on screen but not personally in the headsets, where VR is the exact opposite and I think that makes a lot of sense, it’s a very eloquent way of putting it.
R: VR looks way cooler when you’re in it, but less cool in screenshots.
What about you Richard, who did you meet?
R: I met some of my YouTube celebrities that I follow, Cas and Chary and Nathie, so shout out to you guys, that was a real highlight. When I saw them, I was a little bit starstruck, but we went over and said hello and it was good fun, they were so nice.
Awesome! Ok, so what announcements at OC6 are you most excited about?
R: Well, I spoke to a few devs. And we’re currently under the belief that the Quest is now the headset to rule all headsets. For development from us, it’s a lot faster now with that (Link) cable, and we can now also use it to develop PC games, so our desks are going to become a lot less cluttered. It’s still my favourite headset at the moment, you can take it everywhere and it’s easy to show people. And all the other developers are believing the same thing now.
Someone made a point that Oculus have spent billions of dollars and they’re probably losing money on the hardware, and when you look at the fact that they only made $30m on the $100m in content sold and they probably spent multiple billions to get there it’s pretty depressing, but then I thought you know what VR is going to be the future, it’s going to outlast televisions, phones, computers, and thousands of years from now it’s still going to be used, it’s going to be a lot better and improved, a lot easier, but VR will be around thousands of years from now and everything else is going to be nearly obsolete. And sometime in the future, a lot before then, people will look back and think “I can’t believe Facebook bought a significant chunk of the VR industry for only a few billion dollars”, and other companies will be envious that they (Facebook) had the foresight.
V: And we are all here to witness that, at the dawn of VR, it’s exciting times.
R: Yeah, that’s what I was most excited about. And grateful Oculus has spent so much money on progressing things faster.
What about you, Victor?
V: For me the most exciting thing is the hand tracking. It’s a new tech, trying to lose the controllers on the Quest and leave the only piece of hardware the headset, pretty much. I’ve talked to some people who ran down to the demo floor and tried it out, and apparently it’s still in experimental stages, where things can go into various edge conditions that’s very hard to solve. For example, if you do overlapping hands, one is going to disappear, and if you wave it quickly it’s going to disappear too. And because the tracking device for the cameras is located on the headset, if you view your hands side on, it’s also going to disappear because it doesn’t make sense to the cameras. There’s various edge conditions on that and other challenges like no haptic feedback but things are looking fresh and promising. I think it will be a case of focusing resources on solving these major challenges, and I think it will eventually pay off, being able to operate VR with just your bare hands is much more intuitive than controllers for first time VR users. And also, with just the headset as hardware it will make VR much easier for the mainstream. So that’s my biggest excitement.
I’ve seen a lot of people online, mainly Quest owners, who are concerned about how the Link cable is going to affect the developer mindset, like whether they will stop prioritising Quest. Do you think it’s going to change things from a developer perspective?
R: I can probably answer that. The Quest is selling so well that word will get out to developers that might be currently working on mobile games, so they’re going to move to VR due to Quest. Since the Quest is very difficult to develop for, performance wise, it’s a big investment, it would make sense if they also publish their titles on PC – so I think the Quest will actually bring more games to PC because more developers will be drawn to VR because it makes financial sense to them. So, it’s the opposite of what their concern is.
V: Because of the massive hit that Quest is, Oculus are only going to focus on refining the experience for Quest and I don’t really see the Quest failing anytime soon. I think for making VR mainstream perspective, this is the ideal headset.
R: To add, I don’t imagine Oculus releasing another Rift, the Rift S I’m predicting is the last Rift. And they’ll all be portable headsets from now on with PC compatibility.
What was your number 1 highlight of the trip?
R: Probably hanging out with Victor and talking about development, strategizing –
V: Aww I’m flattered Richard!
R: Talking about the ideas we have; we don’t get to do that enough. As a team we’re spending so much of our time coding, working, having meetings, sometimes it’s good just to have some time away together and you can talk about the hardcore coding stuff again.
V: Absolutely, just being able to talk to Richard about stuff that we still have at the back of our mind is just a privilege. And Richard brings happiness to everything so it’s a great experience.
Aw that’s so wholesome guys! For our last question – what advice do you have to someone who might be going to OC “7” next year?
R: Go to all the keynotes, you probably won’t have time for seeing the demos, and speak to as many people as possible. My strategy is just to walk up to a group of people and say “Hi, I haven’t met you guys yet”. And everyone is always friendly and happy to say hello. You never know how you’ll meet.
V: For me I would suggest going to OC7 or future events like this with a question, so if you go into the mindset of “I’ve had this problem for the longest time, how do I solve it?”. How can I solve it at this event – who should I talk to? Go and talk to those people and try to work out a solution, I’m sure there’s fantastic people on the Oculus team that can answer your question or work together with you to work out a solution.
That’s really good advice, Victor.
R: I’ve got two more: there’s a thing called speed meetings, and there’s like 5 C-level (chief level) Oculus employees and you get 5 minutes with each of them in a speed dating style situation. That was really great. And also, no need to bring your own snacks because there’s free snacks everywhere. It’s like, “oh, that’s pretty generous”!
And you guys had dinner on the first night hey?
R: Yeah with Oculus Start.
So how many people do you think went to the whole convention?
V: Oh, it was massive, I would say thousands of people, it was a sea of heads. Listening to Mark Zuckerberg, John Carmack and all the others.
R: Yeah Mark Zuckerberg came out on stage and everyone’s phones went up to say, “look I’m in the same room as Mark Zuckerberg!” It was pretty funny.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Richard and Victor’s adventures at OC6!