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February 3, 2023
Here's a quick overview of all the points we shared during the AMA:
About Echo VR sunsetting
We will continue supporting Echo VR in the upcoming months, with hosting events and potentially a big big send off event closer to the summer.
Echo VR shutting down doesn't affect Virtex in the long term, as plans for the next games have already started long ago, we hope to be able to announce the next game as soon as possible.
New graphic engine
We are currently transitioning from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5, this will result in a better experience, a lot of cool features that can be implemented with the new engine.
Inventory is currently being tested internally and will soon make it in the app. You'll be able to test consumables, throw emojis, use props in the upcoming beta tests.
We wanted to start this for so long and we are finally getting it ready for you. You'll find all major updates, bug fixes, insights and art concepts.
We will release the first Developer update very soon!
New Title in Virtex Stadium
We are working hard to bring the next title available for closed beta in March.
On Thursday 2nd of February we had our very first AMA on our official Discord; we talked about the future of Virtex Stadium, what the team is working on at the moment and what can be expected from us in the coming months. We also got a good number of questions from the audience - if you’re curious to read about all our answers, you can check the transcript of all the questions and answers bellow.
Echo VR Questions
Did you know about Echo VR shutting down ahead of time?
Did Meta lie to you about the future of Echo? Meaning they knew they were going to close Echo but told you they liked your stadium and the future of echo in the stadium.
No they didn't lie to us - Meta did inform us at the end of last week, like other partners they had that were related to Echo VR. When they announced that the game was going into “maintenance mode” a few months ago we feared it could be a possibility that their next step was going to be sunsetting it. People at Meta and RAD have always been supportive of our experience. Overall our work was to develop the platform, so Echo coming to an end isn't a major impact in the big picture for us.
How does the shut down influence the current development?
Most of the work that we have done so far was to develop the groundwork of the platform: creating the stadium, creating technologies to sync stream data, implementing all the basic features, etc… So in that sense Echo coming to an end isn't a major impact in the big picture for us. It helped us quickly start everything, and now that we have all the groundwork work we can integrate new games much faster.
How difficult was it to obtain the licence to use the images and characters from Echo VR in your experience, and how do you expect this to go for other games?
Overall it was a 3 year process from sending the first idea to Ready at Dawn to implementing it. We had to build a first prototype before RAD and Meta agreed to move forward with us.The hard part was making that leap of faith and building the stadium to be able to then show the proof of concept to Ready at Dawn. It was hard to convince people at first without showing them our vision, but once they saw it they were excited with the possibilities.
Would you have done anything differently regarding echo if you’d have known sooner about the shutdown?
Not really - we're still working on content for Echo as we speak. If it wasn't for Echo we would probably not exist in the first place, so we're very thankful for the game and how it brought the company together. We just wished we could have supported the game for longer.
Virtex Stadium development questions:
Have you been experimenting with a native quest version yet? Will it be possible? What about mobile & iOS versions?
At the moment we are a PCVR app which means that we can go pretty high in quality, go for the “AAA quality standards.” We’re trying to build a platform for the biggest esports games in the world and being “PC VR first” means that we can deliver on the highest quality possible. Right now, our focus is to make this experience, within the PCVR, as fun and enjoyable as possible. The focus is very much on proving that core experience and refining it; accessibility (in terms of platforms supported) will come later - because we’re a small company, we need to be very focused on what we’re working on. So we have to make those tough choices.
Which were the biggest obstacles you’ve overcome so far?
Securing initial funding to go full time on the project. Hiring is also a big pain point, engineers with UE experience are hard to find.
Once the feature is introduced, how would earning in game currency work? is it a premium currency that costs irl money to get, or can you earn it for free by doing certain actions in the stadium?
We’re looking at having 2 types of currencies: points and credits. Credits being the “premium currency” aka money, to acquire cosmetics. Points will be earned in the app through various actions. (If you play LoL it’s pretty much the “RP versus blue shards” idea). We will share more in our upcoming devblogs about this.
**Echo had cosmetics that required purchases that are now worthless and will just disappear. Should consumers be concerned that if they purchase these in this program or any other program they are just throwing money away?**
That is sadly the same as any other “game as a service” - with that said we think we have a slightly better model as we are working with the Ready Player Me avatar platform, which means you can bring the cosmetics that you buy with us out of Virtex - in every other game / app that uses the RPM avatars. So it makes it less closed than any other gas games out there.
About bringing other games to the stadium:
Irl stadiums have diverse applications ranging from sports and esports to various other live performances. what proportion of that does Virtex intend to cover in both the long term and semi-near term?
We'll always be a platform for Esports as that’s our focus. But with that said, the technology we built can be transferred to more than esports events. So there’s a future where we could bring more experiences to the stadium, yes.
Will you potentially be looking for flat screen games e.g rocket league for us to view in vr? And will you will be launching a pancake version of the stadium for a viewing experience with friends even if you don't have a headset?
There’s already a pancake version aka the "desktop mod” in Oculus (click on the little 3 dots in Virtex Stadium in your Oculus library and select “start in desktop mode”). Otherwise yes, we’re very keen for non-VR games, we started in VR but won't only stay there.
When will the other games your working on be announced?
Soon TM - aiming for a probable March reveal for next game.
A lot of talk about flat screen but will there be more vr games coming to Virtex? games such as onward, ultimechs or something similar?
We can't talk about more games just yet. We’re definitely still open to bringing more VR games. We do need to keep in mind which games have a strong esports alongside a strong community. It's an investment for us to bring games to the platform, so it needs to be "big enough" to make sense to bring it.
You mentioned before how Virtex is going to expand to other games. how would a player go about navigating between each game/lobby?
The goal is to have only one lobby shared by everyone. There will be a "stadium browser" for people to select which stadium they want to jump in. So imagine a big shared big with specific “stadium instances” for each game.
Is there anything a community can do to increase the chance that Virtex are willing to make a game for it?
The best thing you can do is to keep the community going around the game’s esport. Having leagues operating tournaments like VRML is a good thing as we work with those leagues. We work alongside organisers, so seeing them busy with a game encourages us to implement that game.
Welcome to our first Virtex Stadium DEV BLOG! Take a look at some of the most defining art concepts and technology we have been developing this year!
A few words about Meta's decision to sunset Echo VR & what it means for us.
On Thursday 2nd of February we had our very first AMA on our official Discord; we talked about the future of Virtex Stadium, what the team is working on at the moment and what can be expected from us in the coming months.