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Twilight Pioneers: The Secrets of Making the Daydream View Action Game

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At the recent Vision VR/AR Summit held in Beijing, the Senior Technical Manager Wendi Shen revealed VR game development secrets learned while developing Twilight Pioneers, NetEase’s first VR game for Google’s VR headset Daydream View.
 

His speech about the ARPG VR game, which was released on Daydream on November 10 and which was also available as a demo at the summit, found an attentive audience at the leading VR/AR industry conference. The event was the first time Vision Summit was hosted in Asia, with participating companies including Google, Sony, Samsung and Microsoft, and with important figures of the industry, such as Steven Kan, head of Global AR/VR Strategy of Google and Tony Parisi, Global Head of VR/AR Strategy of Unity, in attendance. Among the knowledge-sharing presentations and product demos on display at the summit, Twilight Pioneers from NetEase Games was acknowledged to be a stand-out title by a famously successful Asian game developer. The highlight of the summit for Twilight Pioneers was receiving the highest number of votes from an expert panel to win the Experts’ Choice Award of Asia. The game will go on to represent Asia in the global awards competition at the next VR/AR Summit in 2017, to be hosted in the USA.
 

In his speech, Wendi Shen described how the NetEase development team successfully addressed the bugbear of VR software development, motion sickness. The team utilized a technology called Dynamic Field-of-View Modification that allows players to move around in the game more comfortably, which also improves focus within the game by reducing color contrasts.
 
The NetEase team also found the Daydream controller, which has only a limited range of movement, to be a new challenge in the development of the game. "We made a great mistake initially by underestimating the flexibility of the human brain," said Shen. Through innovating new moves for the controller that included actions such as throwing, pulling, poking and slashing, the NetEase developers were able to exploit the utmost limits of the input device, and to successfully give players a realistic and immersive experience.
 

Shen also described how the team had to reinvent the classic game user interface for VR. In order to guide players through a VR game, Shen said that he found that a single permanent guide, like an accompanying non-player character, and two types of dynamic guides, in the form of visual and auditory clues, were the minimum necessary to avoid players getting confused and lost in the game. Twilight Pioneers also had integrated within it some obvious trigger points that assisted players to understand what to do next, and kept players following the desired game route and plot line. This was key to maintaining a smooth and flowing user experience.
 
First-time players of the game praised it for the way it exploited the full potential of the new Daydream headset and controller. In particular, they highlighted the way the game brought a first-person view in VR to an ARPG game, as well as the freedom of movement in the game, the sword fighting and variety of weapons available. In displaying the trademark top-quality graphics and addictive gameplay of a NetEase-developed game, Twilight Pioneers clearly demonstrates NetEase Games’ ability to expand its outstanding development capabilities into new gaming platforms. More success is sure to come for Twilight Pioneers.
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