Inside Job: VR game developer

Frank Hersey is trying every job in Beijing. This month: VR game developer

'Are you still there?' asks Daniel Arnold-Mist, standing just a couple of feet away. The four of us are still right beside him. He’s immersed in the virtual world he’s been creating, testing some changes he and his colleague Sjur Helland had just made on Karnage Chronicles.

We’re in an unsuspecting apartment just outside the Third Ring Road. What would have been a bedroom is a testing area where a player dons the headgear and observers can watch what’s being fed through it on a TV;
in the living room is a team of Chinese 3D developers fleshing out all the components of the game – a lot of monsters – and in another bedroom is the more conceptual team that comes up with new characters and game features.

'So I make things look pretty, he makes them work,' says Daniel of Sjur. After a crash course on the absolute basics of what is happening in the room, my task is to create an animated sequence of a conversation between two characters. Really?

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My contribution to the Chinese VR industry is piecing together snippets of animation for two characters, Collector and the in-game tutor whose working name is 'Imp'. It’s not actually that difficult – anyone familiar with video- or sound-editing software will find it pretty intuitive. Then overlaying sound files, then... then Daniel has to do the bit where Collector puts a cog on the table as Imp swats at flies. Eventually we have ten seconds of Oscar-ready realness.

I’ve effectively done little more than make it clear that two items are characters and not part of the background, but I’m pretty compelled. Daniel saves it as a video for me to show my mum.

Working on their world full- time is a huge responsibility. 'You have to get to know yourself better to be able to work better in VR,' says Thorboern Olsen, the company boss. What they build is a virtual realm, but without the constant messaging and distractions of other workplaces, they work in a way that’s more ‘real’ than a lot of other jobs.

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