Hi! I hope you are good ? You’ll probably noticed that his blog is a few days late in being published so let me explain what is going on… Last month’s summaries were extremely time consuming and I ended the latest blog by saying that I needed to rethink the layout a bit because there was soooo much activity in the industry. Well, the increase in activity is absolutely AMAZING and is only going to increase as the days, weeks, months and years approach us. As a result I have taken deep consideration into what I actually want the purpose of this blog to be. What value is it going to add to your time spent and my time spent. Historically, I’ve just summarised all of the most interesting news & stories which I did by reviewing, differentiating and then literally copying and pasting the items I wanted to share on this blog from my twitter feed. It took me hours to do! But I realised that this was just a duplication of effort, I didn’t provide any opinions or anything over an above the original tweet from my feed. If you follow me on Twitter, then why would you bother reading my blogs? If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you may read that content and think ‘Oh cool, I’ll follow you on Twitter’. However, my purpose isn’t to grow twitter followers, my purpose is to Showcase VR!
With that in mind, I am pleased to let you know that my new blog strategy is to share with you what activities I have been involved with or how I am personally helping to Showcase VR with the aim to support you with awareness or share the learning. I am confident that you will gain insight into a broad spectrum of the VR industry by continuing to read my monthly updates. You will read about people, companies, games & experiences, opportunities as well as how to create XR in this blog. My blog will accompany my existing Twitter feed and the YouTube channel, each serving their own purpose. Twitter for news & updates, YouTube for showcasing game-play as well as a soon to be released Showcasing VR video series that I am currently working on. Having said that, I am keen to hear what you think of this new strategy, new blog layout and the content that I am about to share with you.
Learning To Build VR content & experiences
This month I completed a fantastic free course that teaches you a terrific foundation for building VR content using Unity. VR Software Development is available through Udacity and is beginner friendly. I had some previous experience with Unity before starting this course so I found it be useful and an OK pace. Had I not had any Unity experience though and was completely brand new to the layout, coding or interactions then I think this would have been quite a stretching course. Having said that, this touched upon the explanation side quite a lot which I found valuable for my own understanding of being told not just what you can do but how and why are covered off too. My goal for starting this particular course was to help me understand C# scripting better for a specific project that I am working on. If like me, you haven’t any experience with coding or making any software projects then this is a course you should seriously consider investing your time in. Alternatively you can refer to a previous blog post I wrote called Where can I learn more about immersive technologies and content creations?
I’ve just started a Udemy course to learn how to make a Blender scene for VR. There’s also an interesting looking course that you can sign up for just now too from Unity & Oculus that looks to use the VRTK. I’ll share more about both of those over the coming months – or even better see you there!
Learning Business Skills
As a 1st time entrepreneur working on an immersive health-tech service to say I have been on a steep learning curve is the understatement of the century! However, I stumbled across an amazing community of innovators and entrepreneurs who are all working on ideas that uses technology to improve or support humanity. Being based in Scotland makes it kind of tricky to feel part of the Silicon Valley bubble and nearly impossible to learn the ropes from fellow startups or stereotypical tech giants. The Transformative Technology Academy is a 4 week programme where the lessons are streamed online so you are able to join from anywhere in the world. Hurrah! I joined last year under the Innovator cohort and this year I am in the Entrepreneur cohort. We have learned the basics of building a company, how to change your mindset from founder to leader, investment advice, building a software company, building a hardware company, mentoring, collaboration opportunities and so much more! Oh and did I mention it is free? If this sounds like something you feel you could benefit from joining then I say go for it!
Supporting the VR community
I answered a request from a local university who were looking for participants to take part in a research study. They were looking to measure the differences in a Virtual Reality experience when using VR controllers vs using a traditional Xbox gaming pad. I didn’t know any of that ahead of helping out nor did I know anything about the virtual experience that they were using as their case study. Turns out it was Skyrim 🙂 I read & felt the buzz around this whenever it was announced and later released but had never tried it before myself. Holy Moly! The part of the game that I was to test was butchering folks at some sort of fort looking place. It was intense! I was incredibly immersed in there but knew it was a game but because I was using my controllers to swing my sword & shield, it felt so adrenaline rushing real! Once I completed the test I was to re-do it using the Xbox controller. Well, it was more traditional game like to me in that mode even though my body was still present in the immersive experience, it just didn’t feel like I was actually chopping anybody to bits this time… Another element that made me feel tremendously guilty was that the 2nd time round I could hear cries from people pleading & begging for mercy before the final chop. Flippin heck. Grim. That was an eye opening experience for me and a learning that I came away with. I wanted to show my support to the local immersive community so didn’t expect to learn anything myself – they also gave me an amazon voucher for participating! I’ve bought some business books with that to invest it back into the immersive industry (or at least once I’ve learned from the books then the value will come back to the industry!). Full circle baby!
I backed Low-Fi (a cyberpunk world for VR) through Kickstarter this month too. I’m not a cyberpunk fan, I’m not not a fan either but the appeal for me was the open free VR environment for the community. It concerns me that existing tech giants are the ones who can afford to buy up or build their own social VR environments. Most of which are closed off in terms of the ability to merge and connect to a bigger Metaverse. The industry is still working on the foundations (in my eyes) that will be the grounding of tomorrow. In other words, we need to think about not only how we are building each person or companys’ immersive environments but how we are going to connect that with others. For example, if I visit AltSpace VR I want to be able to ‘open a door’ to visit Facebook Horizon but the question is: are Microsoft and Facebook considering this? I believe the answer to be for those and other tech companies, no.
So when I saw this Kickstarter I thought this team have been here before. They have learned lessons. Their environment looks really attractive, I do love the Low-Fi graphics, the concept, the freedom, the hint of story being shared and the idea of a grass roots multi-user VR space so I jumped on-board. They promise it is freedom of choice, freedom to roam, freedom to do as you wish with no linear story-line to follow. Stay tuned for more blogs and/or videos about Low-Fi once I have the chance to experience it for myself next year.
Raising VR Awareness
I spoke at a panel event where the topic was how volunteering can not only help your community but is also a great way for you to grow your own personal skills & experience. My work colleagues shared stories about volunteering at Loaves & Fishes (a charity for feeding homeless people in Glasgow) and Walk the Talk where they are going to be trekking through the Cambodian rain-forest to raise funds for Mental Health UK. I shared my story about volunteering via Pivotal Reality and how I am using virtual reality for people living with dementia in care home environments. By doing so I raised awareness of virtual reality and how it can be used for good. In addition to that I shared how anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be easy! Nothing worth doing is ever easy, it is meant to be hard but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative with how you learn. Compared to the other voluntary activities talked about I probably came across a little wacky but that’s ok with me 🙂 Planting seeds about VR at the very least is better than no seeds being sown at all, so I am comfortable with looking like the odd one out during those times.
This month there has been an increase in requests to learn more about virtual reality. I’ve been approached to produce content for 2 separate industries and with any luck I will be in a position to share more about that soon…
Back on the panel theme again – I’m mega excited to share the news that I will be a guest on Steve Bambury’s CPDinVR event in a few weeks time! If you don’t know who Steve Bambury is or his work then you should check him out, especially if you are in the VR Education sector. This upcoming panel event will be held in virtual reality using the Engage platform – sadly all of the tickets are now gone so you can’t attend this time but do keep your eyes open for future events. The Engage platform is accessible by using a VR headset or desktop PC. Its quite remarkable for all the various rooms and social vr avenues that it can be used for. I’ve linked a YouTube video I made when I got to tour it for the 1st time in VR mode! Prior to this video I attended in desktop mode, for like 2 years, so entering in VR and being completely immersed was a precious moment for me! Genuinely it was! I have nothing but admiration for the full VR Education team 🙂
VR Content I Tried This Month
As I was exploring VR for empathy & storytelling themes I tried Anne Frank’s House, Afterlife and Traveling While Black. All of which are effective in their story and each different with their delivery. Breaking down the components and providing overviews is worthy of a separate blog or video but check them out if these are themes you are immediately focused on and can’t wait on my summary content. For a promotional piece of work I played and created content for Touring Karts. I tried to be a bit of a smart ass and use this Steam game as an excuse to try out Virtual Desktop using the Oculus Quest but as you will see from the start of my video below… I failed at that pahahaa! The second part of the video is in desktop steam mode because a) I had to show you all that the game is in fact AWESOME and b) had to show you that my driving game skills aren’t as lame as the first part of the video suggests… -) I enjoyed playing this as a solo player but look forward to playing it as a multiplayer and giving VR mode another go – wish me luck!!!!
I truly hope you enjoyed reading this new format to my Suzanne Showcasing VR blog. If you miss the news summaries I am sorry and can only suggest signing up to Twitter to connect with the amazing community there. Please do share your feedback with me though as I am keen to hear your thoughts.
Enjoy your October and I’ll see you again after the spooky holidays!