alex-devinOwlchemy LabsJob Simulator was recently announced to be one of the bundled games to be included with the HTC Vive, and it’s also going to be a launch title for the Sony PlayStation VR as well as for Oculus Touch. I had a chance to catch up with Alex Schwartz and Devin Reimer at the Unity VR/AR Vision Summit to talk about developing across all of the major VR platforms, the magic of hand presence, and the range of behaviors they’ve seen when given an open world physics sandbox.


Alex has observed that people either mimic their natural behaviors from reality or they will do the most extreme things that they’d never do in real life, and that experiences like Job Simulator could be a sort of psychological personality test. Devin also discovered that people have had so much fun in Job Simulator that they experience time dilation to the point of misestimating their how long they were in VR by a factor of 4-5x.

They also talk about developing across each of the VR systems with hand tracked controllers and how they had to calibrate each system so that the virtual hands matched the position of your actual hands. One interesting discovery that they made with hand presence is that they found that it felt better to make your hands disappear when you’re holding an object. They’ve coined this phenomena as “tomato presence,” because hand presence seems to be transferred to whatever object you’re holding at any given time.

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They’ve also noticed that there’s a certain performance art vibe that happens when people play Job Simulator within group gatherings, and that they expect that group experiences will inspire people to take suggestions from the audience and to do them in a way that’s as entertaining as possible.

They realize that there’s an inherent marketing problem with Job Simulator, in that people aren’t inherently motivated to simulate ordinarily mundane jobs within VR. It’s a problem that VR faces in general in that you have to try it out to really get it. But they’ve noticed that they have a lot of diehard fans who have been evangelizing and defending Job Simulator on Internet threads saying that you have to really try their experience to really understand why it’s so compelling.

It’s probably best summarized by this Tweet from Devin:

Job Simulator is definitely a VR experience that most people don’t yet know that they want, but it illustrates the magic of hand presence in virtual worlds in a way that is both really surprising and delightful.

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  • Kraufthauser

    No offence, but Job Simulator is just another techdemo for roomscale (like all the other Vive games). The crowd replayabllity argument is just an excuse to cover up the fact that it’s not a full game, but a very, very small project.

    Where are the real games for the Vive?

    Edit: btw, everything in VR feels like a new experience (unlike a normal working day), That’s why time seems compressed like in early childhood.

    • Bryan Ischo

      Pretty sure that all of the games that were made for Oculus also work in Vive, except for those that Facebook has managed to lock down an “exclusive” for … which is sucky, but there it is.

      How does early childhood time compression work in your analogy? Time seemed slower when I was a child, not faster as the VR experience seems to provide.

      • care package

        It should have said more. I couldn’t tell if it meant time seemed slower or faster by 4-5x. Faster maybe, because time flies when you’re having fun?

    • Massimo

      Look at the Steam Store dude and sort it out to show VR only games. And that are only the ones approved by Steam yet. There are many more in pipelines, just google it.

      Your “Where are the real games for the Vive?” sounds very ignorant and short-sighted, to be honest with you.

      • Mateusz

        The list Steam provides is very inflated. Have you listened to “Budget Cuts” podcast? They say it’s planned for release “late 2016” yet it’s up there in Steam Store. Other games while cool for a while also seem more of “techdemos” than real project. Argument “VIVE can do Rift games” is also not that strong, cause in this case why not just buy cheaper Rift. Kraufthauser is right in that respect.

        BTW: Podcast itself is great and was very fun to listen to! It does make you appreciate roomscale even more.

        • care package

          Rift can do Vive games, with the release of Touch anyway, but then it’s not cheaper. You said it right though with “techdemos”. Games meant for room scale/standing will probably always have a short duration even when there are “full” games.

      • care package

        wow, he must have hit a never there. Roomscale games will always be intense gaming in short doses. The only game that looks even remotely fun to play for longer than 30 min. is the minigolf. Hover Junkers is a good example of a game that will get old fast.
        When looking at the steam store for VR only games, how many of those are for room scale?

    • crazboy84

      You have to remember that Vive hasnt been available to develop for nearly as long as the rift and they have not been funding game development like oculus has. Judging the system’s entire lifespan by its launch titles is a bad way to go and doing youreself a disservice. Roomscale is what the consumer wants, anyone that tries roomscale and seated wants roomscale. tons and tons of games are in development right now and due to the Rift’s lack of a front facing camera and rather short cord it will not get to partake in many of them.

      The only thing the rift has going for it is the exclusives it has, and its pretty sad that oculus has resorted to that tactic after repeatedly saying the wouldn’t. The vive technologically speaking can do anything the rift can, and many things it can. I have pre orders on both and have spent a good 30 hours trying to decide between the two. The ability to do roomscale for future releases is important to me and its not there with the rift because there is no chaperone system, roomscale is not possible in the rift. its just not.

      • care package

        Room scale games are a whole different animal, and will always be intense gaming in short bursts. Not every consumer wants this. As immersive and fun as it is, it’s a novelty that will wear thin, and just like the wii or Kinect, asses will find their way back home in a chair for that more relaxing longer term gaming.
        This is where the Rift shines. What it has going for it is comfort and design. Lighter headset, smaller tether, and integrated headphones. Wearing both an HMD and headphones SUCKS for me. The integrated headphones was a wonderful addition to the CV1. I happen to like the touch controllers better as well. It sees finger positions, and has analog sticks.
        Rift will also have the chaperone software. No front camera, but I don’t think the chaperone software uses the front camera from what I’ve seen. you calibrate it by walking to the corners and triggering a controller. The front camera just allows for tron mode or direct look. I could definitely be wrong on that.
        When touch is released, it will come with a 2nd tracking camera, and it will indeed to room scale. Their demos at trade shows were using 2. You should see ‘medium’. Kind of like the paint program for the Vive, but sculpting with clay. Probably why they got held back, was to perfect the room scale. They weren’t planning on room scale at first.
        I’m like you though. Have both on pre-order, but I should only buy one. Having a hard time deciding what to go through with. Ideally I would buy the Rift, and borrow the Vive for a few days.

        • crazboy84

          Are you forgetting the MASSIVE popularity of the Wii when it launched? Kinect was pretty much DOA, but the wii struck a cord and sold like crazy. Due to the steep entry price and high pc requirements this gen will not achieve those crazy numbers. This generation of VR is mainly to show the world that VR is the next big thing. 10 years from now it will be as common as having a ps4 or xbox one in you’re home now.

          Anyone that has tried both the rift and the vive says the vive is the better experience, its the holodeck we all dreamed of. There is nothing technologically the rift can do that the vive cannot (minus exclusives which are another negative for rift in my book). Buying the vive over the rift is simply a better call because its a more technological sound device with the front facing camera, superior tracking system, and we know what we are getting for controls and roomscale. The tight lipped nature of rift about its controls and the tight NDA screams to me that something is wrong.

          Your comment that rift will have chaperone software has no source or substance whatsoever, there is absolutely no proof of this and you are making a wild guess based on absolutely nothing. The front facing camera is used in the chaperone system because it will pop up if you are about to run into something like a human or cat or a chair. I saw a video where this guy was playing hover junkers and his wife walked in front of him, he almost punched her in the face but he didnt because the chaperone system showed him she was there. It scared the hell out of him it was hillarious.

          The second camera shipping for the rift is recommended to also be placed in front of you, one on the left, one on the right to minimize occlusion with touch. Roomscale with the rift is not achievable without at least 3 or 4 cameras that is from Luckey Palmer himself and he also said people with this configuration will be a very small minority and development will not be focused on them.

          • care package

            More people buying the wii initially has nothing to do with the point I was making. I am aware (almost) everyone who’s tried both said the Vive was more amazing, but room scale VR games are a whole different animal. They were all trying short burst demos. Most games being developed for VR right now are for a seated experience. How long or how much are people going to be excited about ‘aim and shoot, pick this up and throw it, and teleport to the next room size space’? Would those same people just want to keep playing those same sensory overload short burst games? At this point if you buy a Vive, you’ll be clearing a space in your house to play those few really immersive room scale games, but most of the time play the seated ones and a controller. The Rift is hands down more comfortable as far as being lighter and has integrated headphones. The Rift will also eventually be able to do the same thing Vive does. As far as the chaperone being available for the Rift you should google it a bit more before commenting like an ass. The software allows you to ‘mark’ your boundaries/walls. The camera isn’t needed for it. It just adds to it.

          • crazboy84
          • care package

            lol. Ya looks awesome.

    • Some Guy

      To you a “techdemo” for roomscale is bad, to me as long as the “techdemo” keeps me having fun, then what’s the problem. I don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles to try to fluff the game up, I just want the core fun experience.

      Did you read what Devin had to say in his tweet?
      “Building what people think they want”
      This is not the right direction when developing for the Vive, because roomscale is a whole new experience.
      He made a great point: “Build what people don’t yet know what they want”
      Are you following?

      If you haven’t played this game, I’m sure you don’t even know you want this, you think you know what you want in roomscale, but you might be surprised it’s not.

      The first time I played a new experience type demo, Skate for Xbox 360, I played for probably 80hrs before it was released. The same skater, the same level, with the same music, etc… That new game was simply, fun, I couldn’t get enough. I didn’t need to have the full version because it was the core element of what made it extremely engaging and fun. Sure the final game added more time to the game, more bells and whistles, but it wasn’t what I needed.

      So it sounds like you just want a typical game, dressed in a sexy dress, with tons of makeup, and a personality boring as hell. You aren’t ready for some natural beauty that will change your outlook in gaming, and truly put a smile on your face.

      And I would have to argue that NO, everything in VR does not feel like a new experience. I got tired and bored with many games coming out on the DK2. They all just started to feel the same and lack anything interactive. Nothing visually would WOW me anymore. I just sat in my chair, looking at 3D things over and over. Vive and roomscale, now that is going to have unlimited type compelling experiences.

  • Bryan Ischo

    Hand presence is awesome, as any owner of a Leap Motion + DK2 combination can attest to. The Leap Motion is only sometimes accurate, but when it is, it’s fantastic.

    • Roel

      I agree. How much will people be willing to pay for accurate hand tracking you think?

  • Not to pick on the game, but seriously, how many diehard fans could they have? Only a select few developers can get their hands on a VIVE, there has been NO open sales to developers. It might be great, but let’s not pretend it has a wide audience right now, or it’s “Being Recommended to Friends”. It’s being passed back and forth between a tiny, closed community of developers. And this “VIVE Club” has been very generous in the comments about their fellow members, and they should be! Right now they are sharing alot of valuable game ideas and interface suggestions. But in the outside world, we call that an “Old Boys Club”. The REAL test for the value of the game is when it’s in the hands of REAL consumers. Let’s see what people say who don’t have any professional stake in their comments.