VDA Q&A: Allumette
You’ve just been nominated for a Viveport Developer Award, how do you feel?
Wow, this is such a nice surprise! Viveport has been such a generous partner to us, and we feel extremely honored!
Where did the idea for Allumette come from?
Loosely inspired by The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen, Allumette is an account of the love family members have for one another, and the sacrifices and choices they make for the greater good.
Tell us something about Allumette that we wouldn’t know from just experiencing it on Viveport?
Here’s a bit of Penrose Studios trivia! Before we named the piece Allumette, we referred to it as Project Rope, like the Hitchcock film.
Why did we give it that name? When you experience Allumette, you have scenes with continuous presence. We didn’t use any cinematic “cuts” within the scenes themselves--it’s a smooth, continuous experience, just like Rope.
During the development process, did anything surprise you along the way you didn’t expect?
Coming from a CG animation background, you could take hours to render each frame without any problem. In VR, you only have a small fraction of a second for each frame! Adjusting to the performance requirements of this new medium was difficult, and required using new techniques for particularly complex elements like the clouds.
To do this, we had to invent some new rendering techniques to get the soft and fluffy look you’d expect.
What do you hope people take away from Allumette overall?
We are developing a new platform for storytelling. Allumette is a story everyone can enjoy and appreciate, no matter their age or where they live in the world. After experiencing Allumette, we hope people will embrace this new medium and will share our excitement for the future of VR storytelling.
Are you planning future updates and adding more features to Allumette? Or what’s next for Penrose?
Right now we’re focused on celebrating the worldwide launch of Allumette, which took place earlier this month. Stay tuned for more Penrose Studios news soon!
If you could have anyone experience Allumette who would it be?
Hans Christian Andersen!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other developers?
Watch your work iteratively and often in VR, and try not to rely too heavily on composing your scenes on a 2D screen. It is important to preview your work on the devices you will be showing it with since things always appear different in VR, and tweaks are constantly necessary. Also, take the performance requirements of VR seriously, and don’t underestimate the power and resources you’ll need to make a great piece. This can save a lot of time on optimizing down the road if you stick to the budgets for polygon count, shader complexity, fx, etc.
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