20Q with Doug and Jackie of Proton Studios / Time Rifters

Posted December 28, 2014 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 Proton Studios who are the developers of Time Rifters.

State Your Name:

Doug Wolanick

Doug Wolanick

Doug: Doug Wolanick (aka Proton) – Twitter
Jackie: Jackie Taylor (aka Kenzie) –  Twitter

What is your current Job / Role ?

Doug: Game Programmer @ www.ProtonStudio.com
Jackie: Producer @ www.ProtonStudio.com

What are you most famous for ?

Doug: BeGone (www.nplay.com). A browser based multi-player first person shooter. It’s a mix of my favorite features from Counter-Strike & Day of Defeat.
Jackie: Time Rifters (www.TimeRifters.net) which is a unique single-player co-op shooter where you get to be your own teammates.

What is currently on the desk in front of you ?

Jackie Taylor

Jackie Taylor

Doug: Razer Hydra, Christmas Turtles (with sea salt), Cadbury chocolates (mint, almond & toffee), audio cables, and a lens cloth.
Jackie: My desk consists of my laptop on the couch, so I have a TV, Wii U, XBox 360 and PS3 in front of me.

What was your first VR experience ?

Doug: Aladdin VR ride in Disney World, it was horrible.
Jackie: I think it was the Aladdin ride in Disney, however the Nvidia GeForce Shutter glasses were a pretty close second.

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

Doug: Yes, within minutes of first trying my DK1 I was sick. The DK2 helped a lot, and each Oculus SDK release helps even more.
Jackie: I’m pretty lucky because I very rarely experience sim sickness, which makes long testing sessions a lot easier.

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

Aladdin VR

Aladdin VR

Doug: Probably 2 hours in RiftMax. The DK1 & 2 get uncomfortable to wear after a while. I’d rather use the monitor for many things right now, but as the technology matures, I’m sure that will change.
Jackie: I spent 1.5 hours in Riftmax in my DK1 and then 1.5 hours in our DK2 testing Time Rifters.

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

Doug: Playing the 2013 VR Jam game ‘Dumpy: Going Elephants’. Having a physically simulated elephant trunk stuck to the front of your face is probably the most unique use of the Rift I‘ve seen.
Jackie: Trying Time Rifters on the Oculus Rift HD Prototype for the first time at the 2013 Unite Conference. It was so weird seeing it on the high res version after playing it on the DK1.

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

Doug: A group Karaoke of ‘The Final Countdown’ in RiftMax.
Jackie: I think one of the best (and probably funniest for Doug) experiences was the very first time I tried the Rift. Doug put me in a project he’d been playing around with and it was such a crazy awesome experience. I just wanted to touch everything, which of course I couldn’t but that didn’t stop me from trying.

What game or hardware device are you currently working on ?

Doug: We’re doing updates on Time Rifters & BeGone. But we’re also doing little experiments that could lead to our next project.

Time Rifters

Time Rifters

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

Jackie: Time Rifters is already released and available on Steam.

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

Doug: I didn’t expect there to be such great conversations about VR. I regularly listen to EnterVR, RevVR Podcast/Feedback, PodVR, Left-Handed VR Podcast, & Voices of VR. In addition to new podcasts, established ones have also featured a lot of VR discussion including The Bobby Blackwolf Show, The Joe Rogan Experience, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour and Wired’s Game|Life podcast.
Jackie: The anticipation & excitement from not knowing what comes next (both short term & long term).

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

Doug: Day of The Tentacle. A diorama style point & click adventure would be pretty cool.
Jackie: I’d like to see the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure turned into a game (it’s already a game for the NES but I didn’t play it). I picture it being an open world RPG, so Skyrim meets Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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

Doug: VR is a useful test environment for Augmented Reality. We ran into an issue of showing the Time Rifters HUD over top of dark & light backgrounds. We had to find a ‘light blocking’ solution. AR will likely need similar solutions.
Jackie: I’m really interested to see how it gets used in the travel industry. From a user’s perspective I’d love the ability to visit far away destinations without leaving my couch or tour resorts, hotels & cruise ships before booking a vacation. The best thing would be a virtual Disney World / Disneyland.

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

Doug: Put your experiments out to the VR community early for feedback.
Jackie: What Doug said, developing in a bubble doesn’t work. User feedback is amazing and will only improve what you’re creating.

What is your favorite VR related movie ?

Doug: Not a movie, but the TV show Red Dwarf had a clever episode where the characters woke up to believe the last 4 years of their lives have just been a total immersion video game (S5E6: Back To Reality)
Jackie: Can’t beat Doug’s answer.

Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf

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

Doug: VR and AR combine into a single technology that is as common as cell phones today. Many more people will be making a living in the virtual economy, from developers to virtual actors.
Jackie: 10 years from now we’ll have gone from using photos to revisit memories to actually reliving them through 360 degree videos. We’ll have the ability to step back into a favorite moment of a vacation or relive walking down the aisle at your wedding.

Outside of VR what do you do to relax ?

Doug: Play surfing maps in Counter-Strike & kickboxing.
Jackie: Zumba, watching tv/movies or playing computer games.

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

Doug: I actually really liked ‘NBC’s The Voice 360: Be the Coach’ experience. Seeing behind the scenes was pretty cool. The roof looked interesting, each audience member dancing along, the hosts not knowing I was sitting there watching them, kind of creepy actually… but in a fun way!
Jackie: Shiny (was a VR Jam entry) and I just tried the Vox Machinae demo and really curious to see how that progresses.

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

Doug: Technology finds a way.

Jackie: Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Download Time Rifters



VR Cover

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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