nDreams is an eight-year old studio focused on creating and selling innovative virtual reality games and experiences. Prior to focusing on VR, nDreams was the leading global publisher on PlayStation Home, and created several large global Alternate Reality Games (ARGs).

 

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GBR’s Senior Tech Writer Rita Turkowski had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO of nDreams Ltd, a fast-growing independent virtual reality publisher/developer based in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.

Mr. O’Luanaigh has been on the cutting edge of the game industry for 18 years. Prior to nDreams he was Creative Director of Eidos/SCi, responsible for game design, game-play and overall quality on all the titles there including Tomb Raider Legend, Hitman Blood Money, Just Cause and Conflict: Desert Storm.

Originally funded by Mr. O’Luanaigh, nDreams has since grown to a staff of 30, with 24 working on active development, and three or four employees working in R&D. nDreams also recently announced a round of funding, $2.75M to be exact. This puts nDreams in a unique position of being a rather rare mid-size game development studio, which has advantages over larger less nimble game development studios, but with larger resources than very small indie studios.

Company Focus

How would you best explain what you do?

We pivoted from making games exclusively for PlayStation Home to exclusively developing for VR platforms. Along the way the team made maybe 40 or 50 experiments in VR, and nDreams already has a mobile VR title available, Gunner. Gunner is our first VR game, and also one of the first commercial VR games to hit the market.  Available for Samsung’s Gear VR, we co-published it with Oculus and it is available on the Oculus Store.  Perfect Beach, another game  we’ve been working on is coming soon to Samsung Gear VR soon.

 

The team is also working now on a AAA console title, called The Assembly, introduced last year at E3 (see Youtube trailer below).

 

 

We’re aiming for The Assembly to be in the line-up of games available at launch for the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Of course, if the HTC Vive launches before year-end, then the game would be commercially  available prior to the release of either the Rift or the Morpheus as we’re aiming for it to be available for Valve’s platform at launch too.

 

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What products/services do you provide?

Games for mobile VR (Gunner and Perfect Beach) and a AAA title game for console (PlayStation 4 Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift),  The Assembly (an adventure game).

How will customers find the game?

nDreams is self-publishing our games for VR, and since The Assembly will be available at the Oculus Rift launch, the game will be available on the Oculus Store. Therefore, players looking for new titles to use with their headsets will find the game there.

Market Positioning

Briefly explain what makes you stand out in your field?

nDreams has been very fortunate to get a head start on making high quality VR content, thanks to our already solid working relationship with both Sony (for Project Morpheus) and Oculus VR. By being one of the first game developer’s to offer 3rd party content to be available when the Oculus Rift ships, users will find one of the first fully-featured AAA action adventure game available for both platforms.

What are your strengths?

Strengths are having taken the time very early on in the VR discipline to fully understand the different hardware and software challenges for developing in VR; specifically, our team started with the DK1 and moved on to the DK2 and other VR development kits, such as the Morpheus, as soon as they were available. We are now anxiously awaiting the release of the HTC Vive development kit.

What are the opportunities you see in the market for what you are doing?

The opportunities we see lie beyond gaming to any and all other applications of immersive 3D interactive content; in fact the team once listed hundreds during a brain storming session.

What are the risks and challenges in your field?

Professionally, we are not seeing any substantial risks unless larger studios move quickly into VR development in the adventure genre that we’ve chosen to focus on.

One way nDreams has mitigated some of the risk from outside is to keep a small but nimble team of tech and game play experts researching things such as game play, camera positioning, and movement control systems, so that when they deploy to various VR platforms, they know what sort of challenges may arise, and how to resolve them per platform. Patrick claims, “different headsets have different challenges, which particularly impact game mechanics, so it’s really important to be aware of how the game mechanics will work in each environment.”

For instance, the Rift is wonderfully open-ended, but has no standard control system. Whereas the Morpheus, being a Sony product, is fantastic for PS4 VR development, with a very good control system for VR, but could be harder to get into, as you need a Sony contract to be a Morpheus developer. The HTC Vive on the other hand, has near perfect control, which is exciting, and while developing for it is still an unknown, but with lots of Steam developers, this upcoming platform will surely gets lots of developer attention.

Any other challenges?

Well, the Samsung Gear has very little horsepower, so you can’t make visually stunning AAA style games, but it comes with the benefit of being un-tethered from hardware, which can be very useful for mobile applications. Another possible short-term risk is if there are any serious delays on making the AAA game headsets publicly available for consumers.

Additional Information

Back on January 20, 2015 the company announced it had completed an investment round of $2.75 million from Mercia Technologies PLC. With this latest funding round nDreams plans to expand its focus on VR development and publishing.

Contact Information

Website: http://ndreams.com

Company Address: 44 Victoria Road, Farmborough, Hampshire, GU14 7PG, UK