The Game Developers Conference is always an awesome opportunity for game audio experts to learn and share experiences. I’ve given presentations at GDC for a few years now, and I’m always excited to hear about what’s new and notable in game audio. This year, the hot topic was virtual reality. In fact, the subject received its own dedicated sub-conference that took place concurrently with the main GDC show. The VRDC (Virtual Reality Developers Conference) didn’t focus particularly on the audio and music side of VR, but there were a couple of notable talks on that subject. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing VR game music takeaways from those two talks. Along the way, I’ll also share some of my related experience as the composer of the music of the Dragon Front VR game for the Oculus Rift (pictured above).
Where should video game music be in a VR game? Should it feel like it exists inside the VR world, weaving itself into the immersive 3D atmosphere surrounding the player? Or should it feel like it’s somehow outside of the VR environment and is instead coasting on top of the experience, being conveyed directly to the player? The former approach suggests a spacious and expansive musical soundscape, and the latter would feel much closer and more personal. Is one of these approaches more effective in VR than the other? Which choice is best?
My work as a video game composer has lately included some projects for virtual reality games (more info on that in the coming months), and as a result I’ve been thinking a lot about the awesome potential of VR, and have also been writing lots of articles on the subject. Earlier this month I began a two-part article that focuses on the experience of the end user, and the gear with which they’ll be enjoying our video game music and audio content (you can read part one here). So, let’s now continue our discussion about the new generation of headphones designed specifically for VR!
In this article, we’ll be discussing two headphone models:
Plantronics RIG 4VR
So let’s get underway!
Entrim 4D headphones
This March at the famous SXSW convention in Austin, Samsung showed off a piece of experimental technology promising to bring a new dimension of immersion to virtual reality. It’s designed specifically to complement their popular Samsung Gear VR device, and it works by virtue of electrodes that send electrical signals right into the wearer’s head! As if virtual reality itself weren’t futuristic enough, now we’re talking about a device that zaps us to make the VR feel more real! It’s called Entrim 4D (pictured right). We’re talking about it here because (among other things) Entrim 4D is a pair of audio headphones built specifically for VR.
Virtual Reality Sickness: the nightmare of VR developers everywhere. We all know the symptoms. Nausea. Headache. Sweating. Pallor. Disorientation. All together, these symptoms are a perfect recipe for disaster. No one wants their game to make players feel like they’ve been spinning on a demon-possessed merry-go-round. So, how do we keep this affliction from destroying the brand new, awesome VR industry before it even gets a chance to get off the ground?