I had the enviable opportunity of working on the Rogue One: X-Wing VR mission, which was the first VR game to be made by EA. We developed the experience in Frostbite, building on DICE's Star Wars Battlefront title, after extensive prototyping in Unity.
The mission takes you through an incredibly immersive story of a rookie X-Wing pilot who is thrown into the action a little faster than they expected. At the time of release it was one of the highest quality VR experiences available and received overwhelming praise by all who got to play it.
Prior to the project I had taken every opportunity to join a small group of Criterion devs in experimenting with Unity VR hackathons. The skills we developed during those hackathons were part of the motivation, by EA, to give the VR project to Criterion. The expertise I gained directly translated into the early prototypes of the mission. Once the prototyping phase was complete I joined the production team to help ship the final product. During the production phase I collaborated with artists and designers to engineer several unique narrative moments that occur during the story, iterating to achieve the desired pacing and emotional impact.
Developing in VR
Creating a VR game always presents unique challenges. From very early on in development, we identified various ways in which VR can produce motion sickness and then designed the final experience to prevent these effects as best as possible. In general, we tried to avoid any sudden change in speed or direction, and also prevent the ship from rolling, as these techniques all proved to increase the comfort for the player.
Interacting with the world in VR provides a lot more immersion than in standard games, because of this we took the opportunity to let the player press any button within the X-Wing cockpit, and made sure that all of them do something! Small details like this greatly added to the realism of the mission, and won over the hearts of many fans.