PAX East Panel 2016: Alienware, Oculus, & Epic Games: The Driving Forces Behind VR

As modern day technology continues to evolve, we get closer and closer to fully immersing ourselves in our favorite video game worlds. Currently, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has taken the gaming community by storm with its recent advancements. Specifically at this year’s PAX East, VR technology took center stage as one of the most popular attractions of the entire event. Whether you were waiting in a three hour line to try out the HTC Vive or checking out some of the panels with VR developers and spokespeople, there’s no doubt VR was everywhere in sight of the convention.

Don’t have a VR system and didn’t get to go to PAX East? Fear not! Some friendly DKCGaming editors went ahead and did some great research for you guys! I personally attended the “Alienware, Oculus, & Epic Games” panel, which featured renowned industry members Frank Azor [General Manager at Alienware], Anna Sweet [Head of Developer Strategy at Oculus], and Joe Kreiner [Americas Engine Licensing for Epic Games]. Throughout the entire panel, these insiders gave us some really interesting tidbits about development and predictions regarding the future of the industry. Without further ado, let’s dive into some of the concepts they’ve covered!



What is VR?

Although the panelists all agreed the true meaning behind Virtual Reality is still being defined with each technological advancement, it was also unanimous that one of the main aspects of VR is building a unique experience for players, rather than another game with different types of controls. When the consumer thinks of Virtual Reality- the goal is not to think of a new platform to play games, but an immersive experience you don’t want to miss out on.  

What are Some of the Challenges Developing a VR Game?

One of the biggest challenges noted about creating a game for the Oculus Rift involves creating a level of comfort for the consumer. Many players often end up becoming motion sick, a difficult obstacle developers have to face. Through multiple tests, results have shown players experiencing up to 20 different triggers for motion sickness in varying degrees. In order to combat this, Oculus prioritizes using a variety of test groups to find similar patterns in ways players feel sick. One cause of motion sickness, as discussed during the panel, is the disassociation between what the player is seeing and hearing. While part of the illusion of VR is perfectly syncing audio with visuals- the brain certainly doesn’t like to feel deceived.

From an Engine Perspective, What are Some of the Features You are Looking For?

There were three major components in the answer to this question:

-Ways to integrate controllers

-Ways to improve rendering

-Recommendations on lighting

Will Gaming with VR Affect Other Industries?

Personally, this was my favorite question. Prior to hearing the panelists explain the countless practical uses to VR, I had never thought of using gaming technology for other career fields. Our panelists eagerly answered this question, adding some new perspectives. First, architectural representation was mentioned. “Before buying a house, there have been talks about showing people what living in the house could look like.” This idea definitely brings “virtual tour” to a whole new level. Additionally, mentions of VR for medical and military training were mentioned. Using VR is a perfect way to simulate serious environments early in a training phase. The list goes on, with the group also mentioning uses in therapy and Tesla tests. Not only that, but Social VR became a major selling point for this question as well. “There’s a perception where [VR] is not a social experience. Humanity is transmitted through VR…[and] multiplayer VR is going to be the next major focus”.

What Types of Games will we be Seeing on VR?

“I’m playing more Indie titles than ‘AAA’ titles. It seems like Indie games are taking control with VR.”

This news is especially interesting, especially when taking into consideration that big titles own console platforms. VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are allowing Indie developers to shine in the spotlight with their unique, experimental game designs. It was also mentioned during the panel that “Indie Fund” was launched as a 10$ million fund to bring Indie developers to the VR platform. With new developers working on VR, there’s a positive outlook on the evolution of gaming as a whole.

That about does it for the major components of the panel! What do you guys think about VR? Let us know in the comments below!



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