UK studio working on multiple projects for device

Climax: Samsung Gear VR experience ‘superior to first-gen Oculus’

Samsung’s recently unveiled Gear VR headset, which uses the firm’s Galaxy Note 4 device as a display, offers an experience superior to the first generation Oculus Rift, according to Climax’s technical director.

The VR tech is the result of a partnership with Samsung and Oculus, and is powered by the technology developed by the now Facebook-owned company. Since its unveiling, a number of developers have announced their intentions to develop games for the device.

One of those companies is UK studio Climax. We spoke to its technical director James Sharman about what developing for the VR headset has been like, and how big virtual reality gaming can be on mobile.

What are you working on for the Samsung Gear VR?
We have two games in development that we are publishing. The first one is an arcade shooter based around World War 2 bomber gunners called Bandit Six.

The second title is still under wraps and we are developing it in collaboration with Oculus. It’s a little early to talk about it.

What engine are you using to make games for the headset? And why?
We are using the Unity engine, it has robust support for mobile devices and there was good sample code for working with the VR Headset.

How have you found developing for the Gear VR headset? Is there anything you’d like to see improved?
It’s been good, we found it fairly easy to get code up and running. The involvement of Oculus has clearly benefited the SDK development with due attention paid to reducing and hiding latency. Early hardware/SDK development always has it’s drawbacks but support has been good.

What advice would you give developers making games for the Gear VR?
Mostly it would be the same advice as for the other VR implementations. Specific to this device is the mobile chipset, you need to be realistic about what you can render. Don’t compromise the frame rate for visuals, it will reduce quality of the experience.

How big do you think VR can realistically be for mobile devices?
Big. VR Headsets are not budget peripherals, you need a quality screen and a high precision sensor package which pushes the price of the Rift and Morpheus up. Assuming you have already paid for the phone, the entry cost with Gear VR is going to be much lower. It’s easy to see a future where a lot of peoples’ first VR experience will be with a device like this and the more headsets out there the easy it will be to justify game development with good support.

Is this really true VR, or should we wait for the likes of the Oculus and Project Morpheus for that kind of experience?
You would have to define "true VR" to answer that, and that’s no easy task. The experience these devices offer is superior to the first generation Oculus kits that wowed the entire industry. Devices backed by high-end GPU hardware are going to offer a visually richer experience, but this has all the right pieces to give you the sudden feeling of being somewhere else.

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