While working at Crytek I got the opportunity to create Realtime VFX for a few bigger VR titles. VR is Cool.
Working with VR as a VFX artist is really challenging as there are way less resources available. I usually had 1-2 milliseconds of total render time budget at my disposal. This depended on scene complexity of course and also if we were CPU or GPU bound. There are a lot of things to consider while working with VR you’d normally can ignore.
Hitting a 60fps target on a Playstation 4 is harder said than done! We spent a lot of time optimizing performance on these VR experiences.
For the first project in this video, labeled Sky Harbor, 0:00s-0:16s, is basically a long cutscene developed to benchmark graphics cards. We used a new particle system that I had been involved in developing. There was a lot of new cool features we had available and it was amazing how fast it was. This new system also introduced GPU particles which work really well in VR!
One particular sequence I’m particularly proud off, which also required a lot of hard work and effort, is where the big ship comes crashing down, and gets shot by the big cannon.
This sequence would have been impossible for me to finish without an Alembic cache. Alembic caches are super fast to process, downside is that it costs a little bit of memory but that’s easier to get when working in VR in such an empty scene. In the end the whole Alembic sequence allocated 350mb RAM which is not that much considering the complexity and length of it – 1700 frames and roughly 100k vertices.
This sequence was animated in Maya, some parts were simulated while others hand keyed.
The second project in the video is Robinson: The Journey where your play a little boy stranded alone on a planet full of dinosaurs. I really like the whole world of Robinson and it had amazing environments.
I mostly worked on scripted events, triggers and environmental VFX as there wasn’t much gameplay-wise. The player had access to a scanner tool but that was about it.
I think VFX in VR is all about adding to the immersion, whether its small tiny dust particles that are present around you or a big explosion. A VFX artist can add real small things do that let’s you feel a lot more physically present.