As 2017 rushes ever onward and we now find ourselves in July already, it’s time to look back at the last quarter and everything that we got up to.
Following a similar vein as the first quarter, the second also refused to relent in terms of studio workloads, events to attend and product launches. There are of course many more things we could talk about but either the ink on the contracts is still drying or we aren’t quite ready to reveal them just yet… we did manage to find some time to squeeze in some much needed updates to our website with some fancy 360° images on the homepage – here’s one you can click and drag with your mouse to move around!
Let’s start though by looking at what April brought.
The month started off with our Director of Immersive Technology, Sam Watts, travelling to Manchester to meet with the CEO and group of execs from Martin Brower, one of the main partners involved with the McDonald’s “Foodsteps” VR truck and associated roadshow. They were over visiting from America and wanted to see the truck setup in action, so before long we had them harvesting potatoes like professionals.
Sam had also been lined up for two talks that month, so once back down South, he was first off to Brighton SEO conference to present his “Intro to VR: Past, Presence and Future” talk to a room packed to the brim – standing room only!
Shortly after that, it was time to head West down to Bristol for the now annual VR World Congress event and appear on the panel discussion “Challenges Faced in VR: Past, Present and Future”, hosted by Josh Naylor from Unity Technologies (where did he get the idea for that title from!?), alongside fellow past panel partners Katie Goode, Triangular Pixels and long time friend of the studio, Daniel Kihlgren Kallander, SVRVIVE Studios.
The VRWC VIP Party saw the exclusive first time public demo of our new Oculus Rift + Touch game, Loco Dojo, which as expected went down a storm with guests.
Then it was time to get back to the studio to prepare for the launch of the game itself on April 27th on the Oculus Store. We had managed to arrange coverage ready to go live alongside launch from VR Focus, Upload VR and have key VR YouTube Let’s Play’ers such as Nathie, Cas & Chary and many more.
It was time for the first of the 2017 events for the McDonald’s “Foodsteps” campaign trail at Balmoral Show, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Having carried out support and deployment the previous year, our Director of Immersive Technology found himself on familiar ground (& smells!) deploying the latest version of the Gear VR mobile experience and interactive touchscreen applications, to increase ROI for the stakeholders involved.
The dev team took what was created last year as part of the co-created applications, taking the feedback from the year-long series of events throughout 2016, worked to improve the overall user experience for attendees as well as the ease-of-use of the hardware for the event runners.
Meanwhile, exec team members Robin and Ben attended the PPA Festival event at Tobacco Docks, London to run the now widely acclaimed Make Real VR Lounge, for a delegation of key decision makers from the B2B and B2C magazine publishing sector, to introduce them to the possibilities that virtual and augmented reality can offer.
Being Brighton-based, the team were keen to partake in the Brighton & Hove Albion FC promotion celebrations to the Premiere League and so, working with the marketing team, strapped and positioned a series of 360° Samsung Gear VR on the parade buses and celebration stage to capture a series of fan footage style videos. These will be published online soon.
Once cleaned off and back in Brighton, it was time to turn around head to the big smoke and take part in another panel discussion, this time at VR World event, held at Kensington Olympia across two days in the middle of the month. The panel was looking at the future of immersive learning systems, and our Director of Immersive Technologies was invited to partake by Ed Greig, Disruptor at Deloitte, following on from our previous appearance at the TMT Predictions Schools Challenge Final.
We then had a difficult decision to make whether to attend VR Manchester Meetup#7, which we had been invited to talk about “Adventures in VR Babysitting [Evangelism]” by Si Lumb, Senior Product Manager (VR/AR/Interactive) at BBC R&D Studios. Following on from the horrific attack at the Ariana Grande concert the night before, the event organisers and attendees unanimously voted that the event should carry on as planned the day after in order to show the world that life carries on. Despite the heavy armed police presence, it was clear to see defiance in the face of terrorism among the people of Manchester.
For a variety of reasons, all positive, it was decided that the Make Real studio should be re-located back at Lees House, following a bit of a switcheroo with the Makemedia web team, to escape the freezing Winters and boiling Summers endured in New England House, back to the moderate air-conditioned climate offered by modern office buildings. So the team packed everything up and over the course of a weekend, moved all the glass heads, various VR HMDs and kit and caboodle into their new space, ready to hit the ground running the following Monday as if nothing had changed.
The other finished product was a Gear VR adaptation of the immensely popular and emotionally moving VR experience “Apollo 11 VR”, originally created by the team at Immersive VR Education. We were already fans of the full Oculus Rift and HTC Vive experience and so, when approached to carry out the conversion work to Gear VR, we were excited to be involved with a highlight title of any worthy VR library. With overwhelming positive feedback from the original developers, we were happy to have been able to do justice to the experience on a mobile VR platform, without the extra power that desktop PCs afford. Rave reviews from grateful Gear VR owners highlight our efforts were worth it!
Finally, in terms of other development news, we were also continuing to work on the Sony PlayStation VR port of our arcade sci-fi racing game “Radial-G : Racing Revolved” (that we develop under the moniker of Tammeka, a company we co-own as Makemedia). Now being into the final polish and edge-case fixes stage, the full VR trifecta for the game title will be complete very soon.
Of course there were some events to attend as well. Sam and Ben went up to London on the hottest day of the year (so far) to demonstrate the potential impacts of immersive technology for education as part of the City & Guilds Trustees Day, having been invited to attend by one of our learning partners, Kineo.
This was followed by a series of presentations and group discussions about how VR can impact and disrupt the publishing sector, as part of the Outsell Leadership Council June 2017 Meeting, to a number of global leaders in publishing, information, media and data.
Then for a somewhat less formal event, we took “Loco Dojo” up to Dalston, London for the Summer VR in a Bar Party to let keen VR enthusiasts get their hands on the game. Unfortunately due to train strikes occurring *again* on the date of VR in a Bar, the team were unable to attend but the wonderful team at Virtual Umbrella had the game running on some of their VR-ready laptops with Oculus Rift + Touch for attendees to try out. Thanks guys!
As the month drew to a close, we loop back round to the beginning of the quarter with two exciting announcements for “Loco Dojo”. The first being that Brian Blessed, who provided the voice-over for the Grand Sensei character, is up for a Best Performance Award at the Develop Awards 2017. Similarly, also part of the Develop Conference Expo that runs each July every year, as part of the game development event in Brighton, the game was also selected as finalist to appear in the Indie Showcase, where there’s another award up for grabs. So now we wait to see if the game is able to bag either of them, but for now, the nominations alone is are a huge reward to the development team, as a recognition of all their hard work over the past six months, being selected up against some much larger, well-known video game titles.
So that’s pretty much it for Q2’17 – as you’ve read, another hugely busy period for Make Real and the team with multiple products going live, being deployed, updated and launched upon the public, as well as a series of fantastic events that increase our visibility and continue to establish the company as one of the leaders in immersive technology software product design and development. Stay tuned for when the unannounced projects become announced and the placeholders above are revealed!
Will we win an award, or two, next month? What else have we got up our sleeves? Or exploring the largest collection of indigenous artifacts? Or even trying your hand at running a bar for a year? Well, you’ll have to come back in early October to find out! Rest assured, it’ll be worth the wait…