Relaxing with Perfect Beach
Perfect Beach is now available for the Samsung Gear VR. But what exactly is this new relaxation experience? And just how does VR bring it to life? We sat down in our virtual deck chairs with CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh and the Perfect Beach team to find out.
Where did the idea of Perfect Beach come from?
We felt that VR would be perfect for experiences as well as games. By that I mean things that don’t have a goal, which you don’t have to win.
Perfect Beach seemed like the perfect first experience. It’s really simple – if you are really stressed or you’ve had a busy day, you can put the headset on and suddenly you are on the most beautiful, idyllic beach in the world. You can just chill and listen to music, meditation tracks or an audio book. Look at the waves and listen to the birds and before long you’ll be completely relaxed. It was a nice idea and a really great first experience for us to make.
What makes Perfect Beach different to all the other VR experiences out there?
I haven’t seen too many VR experiences like this. There are things like TheBluVR though, where you go under the water. That is one of my favourite experiences on the Gear VR. This is a little bit different however, in that it’s designed to take you back to that moment during the summer where you are away from work, on holiday, the sun beating down and you can chill out. I guess it’s designed to take you in a happy place for a while and to take your mind off whatever is bothering you or stressing you out.
Can you see VR relaxation experiences becoming a trend in VR?
I think there is a lot more to experiences than just relaxation! I don’t think you will see everything we do in terms of experiences as relaxation.
However experiences like this would be perfect for use at the dentist, or in hospital. I think it’s a great way for people to forget where they are. Wouldn’t you love this if you were getting a tooth out? I think you will see them becoming more mass market, particularly as a wider audience get into virtual reality.
Jamie Barber, nDreams Development Manager: It’s nice to work on something that you’ll use after release, it really does let you sit down, chill out and relax.
It has been said that Perfect Beach is a good starter app for new VR users – why do you think this is?
I think it’s a great starting point because it’s so accessible. You can sit down, look around and there’s nothing overly complicated to do. It’s the perfect introductory experience – even for my parents, for example – who are not gamers and who would struggle with a video game. You can give Perfect Beach to anyone, it’s just that easy to use.
Kristian Francis, nDreams Designer: Personally speaking, Perfect Beach was one of the first VR experiences I tried out and it proved to me that VR is going to be a massive deal, not just for gaming, but for all forms of media!
What would you recognise as the most challenging part of developing Perfect Beach?
The most challenging part was trying to create something that looks realistic on the Gear VR, given the limitations that it has. Smartphones are very powerful, but compared to a PC, they just don’t have the same horsepower. We have tried to make it quite realistic because we want people to really think and feel that they are at a beach, so the real challenge was trying to deliver enough graphical fidelity. We had to use some really clever tricks, to get the waves and the water in there and to get the birds moving.
It’s a nice challenge that I think we have achieved well and what is possible will only get bigger and better as smartphone technology improves.
Martin Field, nDreams Art Lead: We worked really hard to get the beach working in VR, and in the end I was extremely proud of the quality experience the team has managed to fit onto a mobile device – it’s crazy.
Perfect Beach has MP3 functionality – how do you think this will add to the whole experience?
The MP3 functionality is awesome because anything you want to listen to, you can now go and listen to on a beach! The nice thing is that it gives you freedom to listen to anything you want in there – it’s not just about listening to music. A lot of people listen to audio books rather than reading because it’s a good way of relaxing your eyes. Or you could learn French, or listen to a podcast – the list is endless.
One final question – where is your perfect beach?
I think my favourite has to be Kauai, on an island in Hawaii. It’s where they filmed Jurassic Park. It was beautiful – great deserted beach, palm trees and no one around. There was this great waterfall which was lovely! It’s the perfect place to go – if you have the money – but if you don’t you could go get a Gear VR and go experience Perfect Beach instead!
You can now download Perfect Beach on the Oculus VR Store for the Samsung Gear VR.