20Q with Nick Pittom / RedOfPaw, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away & Crystal Rift

Posted October 27, 2014 by Sandra Whelan in 20 Q

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

Nick Pittom

Nick Pittom

This week we chat to Nick Pittom.

State Your Name:

Nick Pittom

What is your current Job / Role ?

Director, Fire Panda LTD

What are you most famous for ?

My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro

VR demos for the Studio Ghibli films ‘My Neighbour Totoro‘ (the Bus Stop scene) and ‘Spirited Away‘ (it’s Boiler Room scene).

What is currently on the desk in front of you ?

An Oculus Rift DK2, a Dodocase VR phone holder (unopened), a Note 3, a little toy Portal turret, some Surgeon Simulator novelty pens, a Lord Business Lego figure, business cards I collected and Oculus Connect, a 360 wireless controller and a banana peel.

What was your first VR experience ?

The first was the old test-room in the Oculus IPD config utility, but I’m not sure that counts, so I’m going to go with, I believe, Tuscany, although Titans of Space was the first that truly blew my socks off.



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

Some, depending on the demo. DK1 more so, with Half Life 2 kicking my arse. I can’t do five minutes in that without feeling I’m going to throw up. But DK2 has been better and Crescent Bay provoked no sickness in any way at all.

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

20 mins perhaps? I tend to dip in and out a lot.

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

The recent Crescent Bay demos take the win for this. It’s the first time I truly felt I was ‘there’ in a couple of them. The ‘papercraft town’ one felt absolutely real, but it was the ‘mirror mask’ one, where you are ‘wearing’ a mask and see it in the mirror, mirroring your movements. That messed with my mind.

Crystal Rift

Crystal Rift

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

Watching people I’m showing the DK2 to get freaked out by Dreadhalls, or Don’t Let Go, or recently Crystal Rift.

What game or hardware device are you currently working on ?

I’m working on three experiences right now. Jon Hibbins created Crystal Rift, a retro-style dungeon crawler and invited me on board – it’s a great game, that is ideal for VR and I feel I can add something of my own mark to. I’m also making my own Kickstarter game, which I begin actively working on this week (no details to announce just yet). Finally I am working on a Sci-Fi storytelling experience called ‘Decay Theory’, which is massively ambitious, but also very exciting.

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

Crystal Rift should be either the end of this year or early next. We’re currently on Greenlight – which you can vote on now here:

My Kickstarter will be later in 2015 and Decay Theory perhaps towards the end of next year, depending on it’s progress.

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

How easy it is to make… something. It’s as simple as dropping in a player object to a scene and hitting play. Yet to make something truly compelling and worth people’s time is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever undertaken. Animation and compelling characters are a big part of that I suppose, but there’s plenty of other elements I am wrangling into place right now.

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

Chucky Egg

Chucky Egg

That’s such a hard question! So many of the games I loved back then were perhaps not even well suited to VR. Perhaps old text-adventures might be fun to see in VR, like ‘The Pawn’, or ‘Zork’. Point and Click games like Space Quest might also be great. Chucky Egg?

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

I’d love to see more educational and data visualization tools and experiences made. Titans of Space is so amazing, and I think is an entirely new kind of experience impossible outside of VR – to get that sense of scale and wonder. More of that, but for pretty much every subject would be great.

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

Make what interests you. Consider what it is you want to see, and go for it. By all means stick to your strengths, but if you need code or art or whatever then it’s no bad thing to be able to make it yourself. Too much time is spent waiting for other people. Be your own boss.



What is your favorite VR related movie ?

I recently saw Brainstorm, and it’s relative qualities aside (it’s not great), it does have quite a prescient take on VR. The Matrix is of course a favorite for guys my age, but Lawnmower Man will always have a place in my heart, even if it’s a bit crap. But Tron Legacy and Tron win for art direction.

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

The hardware will no longer be the main interest. We will have 8k or 16k displays, perhaps even 32k… perfect positional tracking, along with wireless HMDs. Wireless, haptic-feedback enabled motion controls, and perhaps some other gimmicks like smell or whatever. It’ll be amazing and common place.

It’s going to be social experiences that make the big waves – joining other people in VR events and spaces – that will be the majority time-share of VR. Meanwhile, games, and other crafted experiences will continue to be a big draw. Also: Something no one has even considered yet will blow all our minds.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Outside of VR what do you do to relax ?

I read – I’m currently on the Dark Tower series – watch TV series, Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones, or just spend time with my wife and daughter (sometimes not that relaxing!).

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

Synthesis Universe has really awesome art-design and Technolust is looking to be a great adventure game. Titans of Space however has always remained my favorite. .

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

“There are other worlds than these.” (A Dark Tower quote. People should read the Dark Tower!)


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About the Author

Sandra Whelan

Sandra is an account manager by day and a full blown VR enthusiast by night. She loves to play the guinea pig and test the latest games and hardware and give an honest review of her findings

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