This week on Built to Play, Facebook buys virtual reality headset manufacturer, Oculus, and the internet nearly tore itself apart.
Oculus is the creator of the VR headset, the Oculus Rift, initially funded through a $2.4 million Kickstarter campaign. The team, which now includes the creator of Doom, John Carmack, made the deal during the Games Developer Conference for $2 billion. To put that into perspective, Facebook bought Instagram for half that, and Whats App for just under ten times that. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that, "Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate."
Notable internet person and Minecraft creator, Markus "Notch" Pearson, claimed he was cancelling an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft because "People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build." This kind of impulse response to the Facebook acquisition was just one of many that popped up Wednesday.
Carmack later wrote in response to a blog post by musician Peter Birkman, "I do have reason to believe [Facebook] get the Big Picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don't make a commitment like they just did on a whim."
In other parts of the world, the creators of Candy Crush Saga and unintentional hilarity, King, had a terrible launch of their initial public offering. Their stocks opened at $22.50, and closed at $19, which makes them the worst IPO of the year, surprising no one except King's CEO.
Meanwhile Iron Galaxy will be producing the second season of Xbox One fighting game, Killer Instinct. 3D Realms not only still exists as a company, but is attempting to release a new Duke Nukem game. And anti-violent video game activist, Leland Yee, turned out to be selling rocket launchers to the mob. It's been a weird week.
In our interviews this week, we're talking life and love on the dance floor.
Kan Gao, designer of To the Moon, discusses his inspirations and developing strong musical themes in games. To the Moon came out of Kan's fear that his grandfather would pass away, and wondering what he'd like to see before he died. But Kan found that his desire for an emotional story outranked his game design ability and so leaned into his music and writing to create an atmospheric world. He also talks about his upcoming game, A Bird Story and why it has zero dialogue. It starts at 26:40.
Then Heidi MacDonald tells us about romance options in role playing games. Back in 2012, Heidi surveyed game players on what they looked for in a potential virtual romantic partner in video games. What she found was that Bioware characters overwhelmingly fit the character traits people wanted to see. Characters who would rank high include Morrigan and Alistair from Dragon Age, and Kaiden and Liara from Mass Effect. Plus, she talks about her plans for her GDC marriage, which were an absolute success, by the way. You can hear more from her at 36:30.
And with GDC on the mind, we were thinking of one thing only: sweet sweet parties. The Wild Rumpus regularly runs video game parties that are halfway between raves and gallery exhibits, as they showcase new ways to play games. At GDC this year, they hosted the Mild Rumpus. Back in February, they hosted the Fancy Videogame Party, which was a celebration of the last five years of Toronto's video game community. We talked to co-founder George Buckenham about how to make a great party with games, the problems of curation, and what to play on a Cold War fishing vessel. Hear more details at 48:25.