Hello. I'd like to welcome Professor Frederic Fol Leymarie, who is a professor of computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Frederic runs a very successful Master's in computer games. Frederic have you found in recent years that there's been a lot of interest in VR among students on your Masters?. Yes indeed. So of course, in the world of computer games, we're always at the forefront of high-tech in graphics, anything graphics. So VR has made a big impact in the industry and in fact if you look at what happened with Hercules in particular, will started to change the field a few years ago. Right away the main killer app would be games. So there's always been a focus in the last few years on one of the main applications will be games. So students who come to our program are already aware of that. They know that it's been out there for a while. So some of them want to focus on that as an application. And then we've seen industry started actually a few years ago to invest in developing games for VR, thinking about what will be different when you use VR for a game. And it still, I would say from industry perspective, a new era. So I think we haven't seen perhaps yet the Grand Theft Auto or VR games yet. In terms of a game that would be made specifically for VR, it would make a huge impact but I think eventually we'll get there and there's definitely a lot of work going on in industry. So, the Masters degrees that we run, we run both on MSC oriented towards games programming, and that's one, this is going to be its 10th anniversary actually. And we started about two years ago MA Arts and Design for games. And these two courses run in parallel. There's a lot of crossover, people work in teams from both sides. And with that, we tried to duplicate what happens in industry. So this is a particular industry, it's a little bit like special effects for film where you have, of course, you've lots of Xion programmers, experts in all kinds of aspects of graphics and interactions and they work together with expert artists who are extremely good at creating visual effects and working with tools like 3D Studio Max, Maya, Houdini et cetera. And they really collaborate. So you will go to one of these studios, a typical game studio in London or elsewhere, and you will see lots of people working, a bit like if you went into a lab space in another industry, but then if you start asking questions you'll see that, there's an artist there, there's a designer there and then there are three programmers and they keep exchanging information. In terms of VR, it is early days still but there's a huge interest from the industry and the new students who've arrived I've heard of it. They may have tried some of these new VR platforms because one of the main features of this current generation of VR technology is that it is affordable. So you can actually acquire a sophisticated VR set which is an investment like getting a game console. So it's a similar price. Now, it's a new new age in VR. Before, you needed 100,000 or a million pounds or dollars if you wanted to really go after high-end VR, but this is not the case anymore. So with a few hundred dollars you can actually experience something very high quality. So, yeah, we see even students who have started to play with VR demos et cetera. and they are curious about , okay, how does that intersect with games? And in terms of skills that you may need to learn, is that very different or is it similar? They have all these questions, so we try to expose them to VR in games. But of course in our area, we run these MSC and MA, it remains a small part of everything we teach and we do together. In the near future as virtual reality and augmented reality applications, which is sort of the flip side on the technology and which I think these two worlds intersect in many ways, as they keep developing there'll be more and more applications out there beyond just games as well. We probably will see in our own courses as VR becomes more and more important part of our course. Okay. And what do you think the key skills that your students need to learn to get into the industry? So, in terms of game industry, if that's the question, games in VR, if we focus on that. Well, in game industry, there are a number of skills that are really important to acquire. And, of course, you have to decide whether you want to go more on the programming route early on or you are more focused on the creative side, the artistic side or the design side. Or, you can even be a jack of all trades. So people, we call producers in games, are the people who manage teams and projects, it will be good if they have skills in all these disciplines. So there's this high-level decision you have to figure out which discipline you want to focus on, and in our courses we will give you that focus. At the same time, we will keep you interacting with the other disciplines because that's important. And then, let's say for example, the programming side, well, you'll learn about the type of programming and the type of strategies that are used in the game industry. So one of the challenges of the game industry from the programming side is that right away, you will work in teams and they'll be a lot of specialization so you will work on some aspect of a much larger project will be the typical scenario if you're in a medium-sized studio or a large-sized studio. If you're in a startup or a very small independent developer type game scenario, then you probably will be asked to work across many types of programming problem. So, for example, what do I mean by that? Well, in games you have subspecialization and you have even people who become expert in, for example, AI for games. And even these days because AI is exploding, probably we'll see in a few years that they'll be subspecialties in AI for games. You'll have people who are specialized in physics for games. So, they model forces and gravity and effects like friction, very hard to model. You'll have people who are more on these towards especially effects like smoke and all kinds of lighting effects, and we could go like that across, animation for example, animation for characters. Capturing motion data is becoming also more of a specialization. So you have all these disciplines and if you look at the artist's side is similar, you have people who will become expert at certain aspects of our creation for games. It could be more 2D, if you're more into drawing and painting, and you can actually push yourself to become known to be expert in those types of production of artifacts. So by that I mean like all kinds of beautiful textures, effects, and you'll have other artists who are more interested in sculpting maybe, so that they will tend to go towards the 3D aspects of what we call game assets. They're called assets rather than art pieces because they have lots of value, a lot of effort is put in them to produce them. So this is sort of a quick overview of what's happening in games, but because I want to relate it to VR, then there's the intersection with VR. And again, because it's a new more recent phenomenon, I think we're still working out how this will blend into the world of game creation. But I would say one thing we have to be aware with VR is that perceptually speaking, when you're in a VR scenario and you collide that with a game scenario, it's usually the case that you cannot just export a game that was created to be experienced on screen and put it, even though it's usually created as a 3D set of graphics. So you would think, okay it's already modeled in 3D, it has movement in 3D, I can probably just put it in my VR environment and experience it. You can do that but usually that's a mistake because the sort of experiences that were easy to do onscreen when they're ported into a VR environment won't be experienced exactly the same way. So you have this immersion, this notion of immersion, and that changes your perception of what's happening around you. And you have to be very careful that would be perhaps the main challenge in adapting the art of VR with the art of game creation is be careful that in VR, you will experience movements, in particular, with much stronger effects on your body. And you will probably have heard or you can Google it that one of the issues with VR is that often you can get what's called motion sickness. It's equivalent, for example, it's a similar phenomenon to seasickness. So basically, you are on a boat, things are moving around you, but it doesn't correspond to your own body movement. This is what's happening, may happen in a VR game scenario is that other things might be moving and you might be watching them and you might see your virtual character moving around, but actually, physically, you're not necessarily moving as quickly or in the same way, and that may create problems perceptually. I'm doing this because you have this internal ear, for those who don't know, a system inside your ear and that gives, it's like a gyroscope, and it tells you your orientation in space. So, if you have very strong visual effects which you tend to be in classical game design, when you go to VR directly, usually problem will occur. So that would be my main first point I would raise is that if you design a game for VR, you have to be very aware of this and you probably will have to think, not probably, you will have to think of your design with this in mind. And I would think the best way to work and avoid these issues later is to do what's called rapid prototyping, so you develop a scene and a scenario for your game in a game level. A game level is one action space in a very complicated game where you'll have many, many levels which can be something like you enter another room or you called another level, other things happen there. So in a practical level, in VR perhaps, you have to go even more carefully. You have to sort of separated in smaller chunks a bit maybe like you would think of a film, and experience as you go the effects of especially movement in that the game, so that you don't run into problems later. So that would be the sort of difficult, one of the difficulties of going game to VR world. And then there are of course, if it was just sort of negative difficulties, why do it? So the nice thing about VR compared to the usual game experience is the immersion effect, so that there's a lot of potential for experiencing beautiful 3D graphic world where we have all this artistic experience that's put in these games which in ways is kind of lost on the screen. And the quality of graphics has reached such high points now that we can really give a lot of what the artists are capable of doing there in the 3D assets of being created, but in a way, on the screen, you always have to sort of reduce the resolution and you lose a lot of what is past the potential there. So the VR opens a door that there is the artistic potential now might be something we can actually give to the player and the user. And I find one of the key interest of perhaps differentiation is the immersion and the experience of very high quality graphics. I'm focusing when I say graphics, so I'm focusing on graphics because that's sort of my will. I come from the world of computer vision and computer graphics. But in games, you have also, of course, sound. Sound is extremely important. So we shouldn't forget that world. And then there's also a sort of the world of narratives and people who are more like writers. So that's another discipline that if you go in a games, you will interact with people who are about writing the stories, what's going to happen when you enter this door, etc. So there's also all this aspect comes into play in VR and I think it makes VR much closer for a game scenario to how you would develop narratives in the context of a sort of a complicated theatrical pieces. Piece where you have a physical environment and you can go and experience it at different places and you can play with that in VR more naturally that you would do when you know that the user will only need experience all this in a screen, in front of the screen. Well, great. And so just to wrap up, do you have any advice to somebody, to one of our learners who has just getting started, just the first picking up their skills in VR and how to develop their skills and to learn more. Yes. So, yes, so you should bit along the lines of what I was saying before. You should definitely not be afraid of putting even simple or experiencing simple demos. It doesn't have to be your assets or demos, and just try it because it's more of an art. You have to understand what are the features of experiencing virtual worlds using VR platform. So I think that would be the first thing I would recommend to do is actually play with it or experience it before actually thinking about all the technical issues and how do I create this kind of effects or this kind of animation which you will have also to do later on. But you could right away start and be sort of playful and just experience the VR as much as you can to understand what's happening there, what can I do, how is it different? So experience an environment in VR and then also put it on the screen and play with the same environment on the screen and move around and notice how different things could be. And I think once you understand that, that will influence later on how you think of developing, for example, a game or another visualization experience. So that would be my main starting point. Okay. Well, that's great advice. Thanks a lot Frederic. Thank you Michael. It's a pleasure.