An Oculus Launch Pad Story

Vy from The Virtual Corner was selected to participate in Oculus Launch Pad 2017. This is her story:

Whew, what an intense 3 months of summer it had been! My Oculus Launch Pad had been one incredible journey. What is Oculus Launch Pad? It’s a very new program that Facebook (Oculus’s parent company) founded to kick-start, mentor and empower new creators for virtual reality space.  One hundred participants were selected for the program, and flew in to meet for a 2 days bootcamp at Facebook Headquarter. After these 2 days, all one hundreds participants will compete and submit a demo of their project for full funding. Ten projects will be selected in the year’s end.

First day:
We all met up in the lobby for breakfast. None of us have met each others. Cozy space and excited faces, it was easy to start making friends and getting to know each other. Then, we were moved inside a big auditorium and greeted the Launch Pad staff. Ebony, the program’s manager introduced and familiarized us with the program’s mission and what potentials we could bring into this new, unexplored VR space. From then on, we met with industry leaders, independent studio owners, Oculus Studio, Developer team, well-known faces and names in the gaming world, all shared with us intimately their visions, goals, lessons learned and best practices. How to create in VR, what to create in VR, what works in VR and what is still unknown in VR, there was so much to learn and so much inspiration all compacted but well executed in one single day. And the best part is, we made genuine connections and friends with each others. If there’s one things Facebook understands better than anyone else, it’s people. And this program really shows off that strength. Ultimately, Launch Pad is a competition. We competed to get in, and now we compete to win. But we did not treat or see each others as competitors, and that helped all of us. More on that later.

Second day:

This day is all about work. The first half of the day was technical discussion on VR motion, tracking, comfort and proven methods. Oculus team went into deep details on their researches and experiments with motions; what breaks or makes immersion. The second half of the day was spent with Unity team to created our first VR prototype live. The day went by quickly, but it is not over without a final presentation from last year’s winners. I was honestly intimidated, last year winners were all bright minds and leaders of big names in the Valley. Some were even employees of Oculus’s competitors. Most have their own VR start-up now after winning last year’s Launch Pad, they are doing quite well. The Launch Pad really did launched them! And so, we wrapped up the boot camp, but the best part isn’t over yet.

The development:

Three months development periods. VR is new, a lot of us are newbies to this developments area. All participants had a forum to interact and talk to each others. And despite being in a competition, i have never seen a more collaborative group, not even in my full academic and professional career. We learned so much quicker by helping each other, it was amazing, and productive. I could not have done what i did with Launch Pad in 3 months if left on my own, there is no doubt. And i did it! I completed a VR demo. I came into the program knowing nothing about VR development, i came out with a working demo. That alone in itself makes me feel like a winner.
Final winners will be announced year’s ends, wish me luck!