Imagine slipping on a headset and immediately being transported to another world.
It’s becoming a reality, with the onset and constant development of virtual-reality games. Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a different environment with which users can interact in a seemingly real way, with the use of electronic goggles and hand controls with sensors.
While using the headsets, users can be immersed in a game, movie or place in a realistic manner. They can look any which way — up, down, side to side — and even move within the virtual environment using controls.
Gotha resident Rick Terrell was fascinated by the burgeoning tech and its potential.
“If you think of mobile phones, we had PDAs, Windows Mobile, Blackberries, Nokias and then iPhones,” he said. “Along a similar timeline, I’d say we are pre-PDA in terms of virtual reality.”
Terrell recently developed his first monetized virtual-reality game, “Disc League,” but he got his start in the industry in late 2012, when he got the Oculus Rift headset from its Kickstarter campaign. While attending the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando that year, Oculus was there with its prototype — a phone duct-taped to ski goggles.
“It was the most fascinating experience I’d ever had,” he said. “As a kid who grew up in the 1990s, I loved Playstation, and for me, when the mobile (phone) revolution came along, I wasn’t as excited. It wasn’t as immersive. Putting my head into the Rift I said, ‘Wow, this is the next Playstation; this is the next step.’”
He and two other friends set out in 2013 to create a virtual-reality demo. Oculus even reached out to the group about it, but at that point, Terrell wasn’t ready to step out on his own yet.
With a background in professional games and experience working in defense and at a game studio, Terrell also completed an MBA degree at the University of Florida while he worked with flight simulators.
In 2015, he decided to step into the industry on his own, first creating a children’s application that involved interacting with an artificial intelligence before making a prototype of “Disc League.”
The game involves throwing power discs in a futuristic world. By putting on the headset and moving the hand controls, players get to actually throw, curve and twist the discs through the use of their range of motion.
“This type of competition, where you’re running, throwing, catching and dodging, sounded awesome to me,” Terrell said. “It’s fun, it’s intuitive, visually it’s pleasing, so really from an experience standpoint, I thought it would be a great experience.”
The game released in December 2016 on Samsung Gear VR’s platform and, most recently, in May on the HTC Vive.
“I get excited when people get in it (the game),” Terrell said. “They get in there, start throwing the disc, accept it and just do it. When someone kind of intuitively understands and enjoys the experience, that makes me happy.”