20Q with Don Whitaker developer of Crashed Lander

Posted January 7, 2015 by David in 20 Q

Welcome to our weekly feature where we ask some of the industry’s leading developers and personalities 20 questions.

This week we chat to Crashed Lander developer Don Whitaker.

Don Whitaker

Don Whitaker

State Your Name:   

Don Whitaker AKA KitchenDon, though I generally use my real name on the Web these days.

What is your current Job / Role ?

Game Dev and Digital Tinkerer

What are you most famous for ?

In the VR community it’d be my game, Crashed Lander.  Otherwise I suppose my 3D fractal videos and tutorials.

Amp Energy Drink

Amp Energy Drink

What is currently on the desk in front of you ?

A big mess. 🙂  My home-built computer, cheap 21” monitor, Rift DK1, Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Cardboard, Casio pocket camera, Cable modem , xbox 360 controller,  Logitech headphones. ancient Wacom Graphire 3 drawing tablet, D&D 5th edition Player’s Handbook, 2 big cookboooks (holding up my monitor), spiral paper notebook, 3 empty cans of Amp energy drink, my morning coffee, and lots of cables.

What was your first VR experience ?

Dactyl Nightmare at a short-lived VR arcade in Boulder, Colorado.

Did you feel any sim sickness or do you ever feel any sim sickness ?

Occasionally, but usually only in extreme or poorly designed experiences.



What’s the longest amount of time you have spent in VR in one play session ?

I generally use the Rift in short bursts – I haven’t really been sucked in to a big game that is Rift compatible.  I think if I had a DK2 I’d be playing a lot more Elite: Dangerous, though.   I suppose the longest session would be a full 3D movie like Avatar or 47 Ronin.

What’s the strangest experience you have had with VR ?

The Gallery: Six Elements gave me a great ‘Otherworld’ feeling.

What’s the funniest experience you have had with VR ?

Watching my parents ride a virtual rollercoaster.

Crashed Lander

Crashed Lander

What game or hardware device are you currently working on ?

Crashed Lander has been Greenlit so I’m finishing up a big update and prepping for re-launch on Steam.  I have another game in the works called XenoFarm, a sci-fi farming simulation. I’m also rendering another 4k, fractal, 360 video.  These take hundreds of hours to render so I let it churn through the frames while I sleep.

Do you have a release date in mind for your project ?

Crashed Lander should be on Steam end of January, early Feb. XenoFarm will likely be finished by the end of 2015.

What is the biggest surprise you have had since you started to work in VR ?

The sense of scale in the Rift. Those stars in Titans of Space or the actual size of the blocks in Mindcraft.

If you could only choose one game from your childhood to be remade for VR what would it be  ?

I’ve always wanted to play a remake of The Sentinel and it’d be a great fit for VR. It was all about having a sense of space and moving around a 3D environment.

Second Life

Second Life

Besides games what do you think will be the most useful application for VR ?

I’m excited to see where VR worlds go – something like Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity or whatever Linden Lab comes up with for ‘Second Life 2’. SL was an amazing experience for me for several years. I had an art gallery, performed in a variety show with a travelling troupe of actors, ran my own business, and interacted with people from all over the world. An improved version of SL, built for VR, could be as trans-formative as the WWW.

What advice would you give to people on how to get into VR development ?

Just do it. Unity is awesome and free and you can get up and running in VR is just a few minutes. Learn by doing.

What is your favorite VR related movie ?

Gotta be the Matrix. I do have a soft-spot for Johnny Mnemonic. Horrible movie but I do love William Gibson stories.

The Matrix

The Matrix

If you had a crystal ball and could see 10 years into the future what developments in VR do you think will have happened?

I really don’t know. I do think that VR is the future of entertainment consumption, just not sure what form it will take or when the tech will be adequate. I think that something like the Gear VR has a much better chance at mass adoption than the current version of the Rift. We definitely need to lose the wires and make the whole experience as seamless and simple as possible.

VR movies and live streams could easily be a driving force behind a wider acceptance of the tech. I keep thinking of the SimStim units from William Gibson books. Seems like a logical extension of the current craze for ‘reality’ TV or the lust that many people have for a perfect, glamorous life.

Mother Nature

Mother Nature

Outside of VR what do you do to relax ?

I like to wander in the woods and take photos – big fan of Mother Nature.

What’s your current favorite VR experience that you have not developed your self ?

Boxplorer2 by Marius Schilder. I heart fractals. 🙂

Sum up how you feel about Virtual Reality in 6 words or less ?

Sparkly new way to see things.


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About the Author


David Whelan a professional web developer has been a serial early adopter of the latest technology. From an early age playing on a C64 he always dreamt of entering virtual worlds and exploring the endless possibilities that could be offered up by the platform.

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