Summer has been and gone and as we prepare for the final stint of the calendar year, wrap up warm, get cosy and read all about our latest activities. As expected with July and August being the main months many people go on holidays, a quieter quarter overall but still some exciting news and developments.
First up, we welcomed the return of one of the other Loco Dojo artists, Becky, who joins us full time aboard The Drawing Board R&D team. It’s great to have most of the game development team back together, albeit with different roles and focus, expanding their creative talents beyond across the rest of our studio developments.
On that note, we are still recruiting for Senior Developers and Immersive Learning Designers – see the job specs here. Now is a great time to join the studio as we grow following on from the investment last quarter.
We welcomed VRFocus into the studio to record a series of video interviews with Robin, MD, Sam, Director of Immersive Tech and Pete, Senior Designer heading up The Drawing Board R&D team. This resulted in a series of articles and pieces about the beginnings of the studio, what we’ve learned over the years and what we’re doing to shape our future.
After welcoming Sammy and Bertie into our studio space last quarter, it was time to make things official and sign Virtual Umbrella up as our official PR & marketing partners. They will be helping us widen our reach and ensure our messaging is on point, consistent and relevant to our existing and potential clients and partners. As well as being well connected to the wider immersive industry sectors, they bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the studio along with a refreshing, unrelenting passion.
One of their first tasks was to broaden our outreach and so, they’ve published the first our of regular monthly newsletters, called “Reality Check” which you can read and subscribe to here. This is aimed more at sharing industry news rather than the hard sell of our services so hope you find it interesting.
Continuing our desire to strengthen our connections to the relevant industry sectors and cement our place at the front of the pack, we joined industry body VR/AR Association. Industry networks and bodies are only as strong as those who are part of them and we feel it’s the right time to ensure Make Real is part of shaping the future for all.
Our VR game Loco Dojo continues to go from strength to strength, with the end of financial year results showing strong unit sales and high revenues across the VR arcade locations. We were also delighted to learn that the game has been nominated for a TIGA Award 2018 in the ‘Best Social Game’ category. We have to wait until November for the award ceremony so fingers crossed!
September reminded the team of how busy studio life can be on the road, with a series of events to attend and appear at. As usual, it was our Director of Immersive Technologies on stage, speaking about the benefits of immersive technology within enterprise, as well as what needs to happen to help push towards mainstream adoption. Talks were given and panels partaken at IT Weekend, Ukraine, HTC Vive Developer Day & Mixer and the VRFocus Gamescom Post-Mortem, both held at the delightful space at Huckletree West, London.
Events wouldn’t be complete without a couple of expos and chances to demo our immersive experiences to attendees, with YPO ‘ World of Procurement’ and the ‘5G Testbed Launch‘ at Brighton Digital Catapult both requiring travelling tech setups for show. Whilst our ability to effortlessly setup and deploy demos outside of the studio, it’s always nice not having to travel and we were able to showcase our entire suite of experiences as part of the BIMA Open Studios Day.
Following on from the previous two years of involvement, we will once again be working with The Old Market TOMTech vrLAB showcase, as part of the wider series of events being held for the Brighton Digital Festival 2018. Thankfully this year, we can utilise our newly formed partnership with Virtual Umbrella to help setup, host and operate the experiences.
Featuring heavily at an internal executive event, our suite of Vodafone ‘Working at Height’ applications were officially launched in September. Providing a 3-tiered solution, from full VR to web-based, SCORM-compliant, LMS-hosted 360º video, ‘Working at Height’ was met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all who tried it.
Although only fully operational since the 1st August, The Drawing Board team wasted no time in creating our first product demonstrator, ‘RearGuard‘. Designed to highlight the skills necessary for vehicle reversing operations within the area of waste management, the VR application will now be verified by relevant industry bodies. By utilising the full VR hardware benefits, learners are able to learn and correctly make the real world hand and arm gestures necessary for communications, whilst placing themselves in virtual safe positions, outside of the drivers blind spots.
Mid-September saw the deployment of our first VR training and awareness experience deployed for Severn Trent Water. The ‘Water Leak Resolution VR’ experience we created for them was showcased by Robin, our MD, to over 900 Severn Trent Water employees and exec board members, over three days as part of their internal strategy event, with great feedback received from all.
We rolled out further updates to the EDF Energy / HPC ‘Information Map’ suite of applications with 360º videos and images added to the map, showing existing onsite status of works before allowing the user to switch to a final, finished construction render to showcase what that area will look like in the future once completed. This was rolled out across the HTML5 website, Android TV and tablet applications and the Oculus Go experience ‘iMap VR’ for greater immersion.
VR 4 Good/Impact
As regular as clockwork, we hosted the Codebar:Brighton mentoring group once more for our bi-monthly stint, providing space to learn and pizza to fuel development with. Moving forwards we hope to be able to provide a mentor for the meetups based on Unity and VR/AR development for those interested in other coding skills beyond web development.
We continued our involvement with the Stay Up Late / Gig Buddies 360º filming of venues project for Google Daydream Impact. Great summer weather allowed for some outside time at C:/Side_Quest during Develop: Brighton, where one of the members got to meet a series of game development heroes as part of the filming process. Scaling up from the initial smaller venues, we took on the vastness of The Brighton Centre, being allowed to film before and during the build up to the very busy and popular League of Gentlemen Live show. Just before the end of September we were then able to get inside The Komedia comedy club in Brighton to film as well. However Google Jump cloud stitching takes time to process, so these films will be available online throughout October.
Once again we partnered up with Special Effect gamers’ charity for #OneSpecialDay on September 28th. As agreed, we’re tallying up the unit sales and VR Arcade revenues from this date for our VR game Loco Dojo, to donate to the charity as part of our desire to ensure that everyone has the ability to play games.
That’s it for Q3’18 – we’ll be welcoming and sharing details of two new members joining the team over the coming months, whilst we’re still on the lookout for more learning designers and xR developers. New projects are coming in thick and fast, kicking off development with more news to share before the end of the year. Just before the end of September, we gained access to new, unreleased VR hardware and will have associated products to announce in due course.