A Year In The Life Of... nDreams
2019 has been an incredible year for nDreams. We announced our biggest game to date, won awards galore and the VR industry has taken another leap towards mainstream adoption. We sat down with nDreams team members to talk highlights of 2019!
Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO
What would you consider 2019’s VR highlight?
There are so many to choose from… Can I have four?
- Game sales! Blood and Truth became the first VR game to hit #1 in the UK charts whilst Beat Saber became the first VR game to sell over 1 million copies - both HUGE achievements illustrates the true growth VR is starting to see
- The launch of the Oculus Quest - a truly revolutionary headset. It was great to be at Oculus Connect to hear Mark Zuckerberg announce that they were selling out as fast as they can make them!
- The announcement of Half Life: Alyx. One of the greatest gaming IPs ever is going to be a VR exclusive. I can’t wait!
- And of course, Phantom: Covert Ops winning a load of awards at E3 including the main one; the Game Critic’s award for best VR/AR game! We were absolutely delighted and believe the game is on track to be something truly special.
Jamie Holding, Principal Programmer
How has 2019 been in the world of code? Any highlights?
We’ve been building lots of technology throughout 2019 to help us squeeze every drop of power out of the Oculus Quest for Phantom: Covert Ops. Delivering the same experience on a high-end PC and a mobile device has presented many challenges, but we keep developing new strategies to ensure the experience is world-class on both platforms. I am excited to start sharing some of our techniques with you all in the next year, so if you’re interested in how games are built I suspect it will be very eye opening!
Outside of nDreams, ray-tracing enabled graphics cards are being more common this year, and the PlayStation 5 was confirmed to have ray-tracing capabilities, but also will work with the PlayStation VR headset. I am pleased to see Sony continuing to push VR and looking forward to what we can do with the PlayStation 5 once we know more about it! Additionally, with the Oculus Quest selling phenomenally well, and huge IPs like Medal of Honor and Half Life getting full VR titles next year, I’m stoked to know people are demanding VR content. Roll on 2020, it’s going to be epic for VR!
Vikki Neale, HR Manager
How has nDreams changed since the start of 2019?
As we arrived back into the office on 2nd January 2019 bursting to the brim with mince pies and new year’s resolutions, we had no idea that by the end of 2019, our team was almost going to double in size to almost 100, or that we would spend our Christmas party dressed as games characters and Pac-man chasing Ghosts all night! In all seriousness, this year has been a crazy but amazing one for the whole team. We’ve celebrated two 10-year anniversaries, five 5-year anniversaries, the arrival of ping pong and some excellent staff benefits!
Growing the number of employees in a business and retaining a great culture of friendship and collaboration has its challenges, particularly when you find yourself split between two floors as we have grown so much. However, as projects come to an end and new ones start, people will soon find themselves working alongside newer team members. We will be continually looking at ways to bring teams together not only in work, but also in play – it’s important to us that our employees are able to strike that balance.
Lewis Brundish, Game Director, Phantom
So… how’s Phantom coming along?
Since we announced in May, the team have been very hard at work - the level that we showcased at E3 was only one small section of the world, so there has been a lot to do! We’re nearly there now, and we’re looking forward to revealing more of the game soon.
My highlight of the year was taking the game to E3 and seeing the reactions. We’ve been focused on developing the game for a long time now and having the chance to see people outside of the studio play it for the first time was really exciting. Additionally, it was great getting some fantastic feedback from the people playing the game for the first time, you’ll find numerous things in the full game which have come from our discussions with press, creators and gamers.
Nadine Oehmcke, Business Development Manager
Tell us a bit about the location-based VR market. How do we fit in?
From single player cabinets and VR simulators to multiplayer enclosures and arena-scale free roam, the LBVR sector is exploding and offers immersive VR experiences for every kind of location and customer. So, how do we fit into all of this? We have been committed to the LBVR space since the launch of Shooty Fruity Arcade and Perfect Balloon Flight which has helped us gain invaluable experience and market insights. We are at an important point of the growth cycle now as VR is becoming more accessible and more people experience virtual reality in LBE. This means that content will become increasingly important to consumers and developers like ourselves. But that’s not where it ends; there is so much more going on behind the scenes here at nDreams! We can’t talk about it too much yet (sorry!), so watch this space, 2020 is going to be very exciting!
Daniel Cosgrove, Associate Community Manager
You started at the beginning of 2019. How has your first year been?
How can I even start to describe it? This place is absolutely incredible! This is actually my first year out of university and I honestly can’t think of a better first job. Working on virtual reality games like Phantom: Covert Ops is a great experience, everybody here in the studio is incredibly talented and they are some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside! Some highlights of the year for me include announcing Phantom: Covert Ops (even if that was just about the most challenging day I've had since I started working here!) and demoing the game to a huge variety of people at events across the country.
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