Earlier this month, we hosted a 24hr Oculus Touch VR Hackathon at The Old Market Theatre in Hove, UK as part of their #TOMTech series of events that run over the course of the month-long September “Brighton Digital Festival”.
The purpose of holding the event was to allow access to unreleased technology that many indie developers interested in Virtual Reality hadn’t been able to get their hands on, as well as expanding knowledge and understanding of VR development as a whole, whilst promoting community and building relationships within the local area.
Attendees came from nearby or far away, with one flying over from Prague specifically for the event as Oculus Rift is not available there yet, let alone the Oculus Touch motion-tracked controllers. Over the course of a day, night and a bit of the following morning, two working minigames were created as a result and the winners judged by representatives of Unity and VR Focus.
We decided to include the two working mini-games into the vrLAB showcase (something we were also co-hosting at the theatre over the following few days) as a reward to the developers.
In a short period of time, we were able to reach out and gain support direct from Oculus through our existing relationship manager, via the provision of Oculus Rift VR headsets and Oculus Touch controllers for the teams to use. Sponsorship came in the form of last minute saviours AMD providing x5 VR-Ready PCs so that each team had a VR-capable machine to develop / test on.
Food and drink was provided by our other main sponsor Unity, who have a local office in Brighton and love to support the community. Promotion sponsorship was assisted by local organisations Wired Sussex and Brighton Digital Catapult Centre who are co-sponsors of the overall TOMTech events.
Whilst this was our first hackathon / gamejam that we had organised and it was successful overall, there were some key lessons we learned that will share with you now, ready for next time or if you want to host your own. We had reached out to a couple of seasoned gamejam and VR hackathon event organisers in the US, namely Eva Hoerth (@downtohoerth) who provided some excellent advice, which will be included below.
Uniquely mostly for the event we ran in relation to the subsequent VR showcase, remember also that things created quickly aren’t going to be the most stable or bug-free finished products, nor are they necessarily going to be designed for repeated use by the general public at that state of development.
Whilst putting the resulting two finished mini-games into the vrLAB showcase was received very well by all who tried them, bugs and real-world usage resulted in more time than expected having to be spent running the installations and even a couple of Oculus Rifts getting broken. But they had fun, we had fun and we would totally do it all again (in fact we will be in December, watch this
By Sam Watts
Sam Watts has been involved in interactive, immersive content production for over 15 years, from learning development and simulation to AAA and casual games. Currently employed as Operations Lead for Make REAL and Game Producer for Tammeka, he keeps busy by evangelising the possibilities and real world benefits of immersive technologies like VR and AR to anyone who will listen. Tammeka’s first VR game ‘Radial-G : Racing Revolved’ launched alongside Oculus Rift in March and HTC Vive in April 2016. Make REAL are currently powering the McDonald’s “Follow Our Foodsteps” VR farming experiences at numerous agricultural and countryside shows around the
Sign up to our e-newsletter for all the latest info for next year's event!Sign up now
Develop is an excellent way of catching up with people – there’s a really nice community feel here.
Mike Bithell Games
Develop is a very important place – it’s one of the few developer focussed conferences we have in Europe and that makes it very valuable.
Develop always gets put in the diary. There are many reasons to be here, not just the talks, but the networking, people exchanging ideas about where the industry is right now and where it’s going to. It’s pretty essential to be here I think.
Ian Livingstone, CBE
I really like Develop, I really like the intimacy of it and I love the location.. there’s a good diversity of talks going on so there hasn’t been a time when there’s nothing I want to see.
Develop:Brighton’s a great conference. It’s got a spread of people from all parts of the games industry talking about such a wide range of topics.
I absolutely love coming to Develop, it’s a brilliant, brilliant conference – you just know you’re guaranteed to meet everyone.
Jo Twist, OBE
If you really want to have a good interface with the British game developer community then this is the place to come.
A lot of the opportunities that come from being here are speaking to other developers who are doing exactly the same thing as you. And there are some good parties – it’s very much a pleasurable work experience!
By coming to Develop what you get is the opportunity to network like you can’t in any other situation. Everyone knows everyone and it’s such a wonderful community feel.
We are so lucky to have Develop here in the UK. It’s a unique event where you can come and discover new things with people who care passionately about video games. It’s a sea full of new ideas.
There are many ways you can be part of Develop:Brighton 2018 - including speaking in the conference, taking a booth in the Expo or becoming a sponsor.Find out more