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My History with (and Love for) Virtual Reality

Posted on December 19, 2017 by THaslettTHaslett

Almost three years ago, I participated in the 2015 Oculus Mobile VR Jam. The Jam was a Virtual Reality development competition sponsored by Oculus for the newly released Samsung Gear VR. Up until a few months prior, I had never used VR – however I picked up the Gear VR right around Christmas time. I immediately fell in love with it. As a teenager in the 90s, having once tried some really crappy VR at a rich kid’s birthday party, this finally felt like I had stepped into the future. I was mesmerized, my friends were mesmerized – it was just so cool.
Two months later, I attended a VR Meetup in Portland, Oregon, and it was there that I heard about the Mobile VR Game Jam (with a total prize pool of over $500,000). Now understand this – I had never created, written, or coded a video game. I had never used a game engine. Oh, and I am also a terrible coder. However, I thought it would be awesome to teach myself some skills and actually try to create my own VR game and enter it into the competition.
Obviously I didn’t win anything, otherwise I might now be a full time VR game developer instead of a Linux Academy course author. However, I still had a blast. See for yourself – here is a video (almost three years old now) that demoed my game, Feet First!

Feet First! (A VR game by Thomas Haslett):

Virtual Reality on AWS

So why am I telling you all of this? What does it have to do with AWS? Well, ever since the VR Jam almost three years ago, I have had a love and passion for VR. So I was (and am) super excited when AWS announced Amazon Sumerian at re:Invent 2017.
What is Amazon Sumerian? Amazon Sumerian is AWS’ newly announced Augmented and Virtual Reality development platform. It is currently only available in preview, and I have not had a chance to use it yet. However, I thought it would be fun to share some information and introduce a fun new AWS service.

Sumerian Highlights:

  • Create and run AR, VR, and 3D applications without years of prior experience
  • Compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and iOS mobile devices (Android coming soon)
  • Based on the WebGL JavaScript API for graphic rendering and WebVR JavaScript API for Virtual Reality devices
  • All 3D assets and scenes are stored in the AWS cloud
  • Automatically create unique URLs for public access

AWS hasn’t really invented anything new here (at least, not that I have seen yet). Game engines like Unity have a 4+ year head start integrating with VR and AR hardware platforms, and building relationships with developers. I am just really excited that Amazon has decided to get into the game. With Amazon throwing their weight behind AR and VR, we will just see more money and development in this space. And for that alone, I am very excited.
You can sign up for the preview here to get started, and watch the full Sumerian Deep Dive breakout session from re:Invent 2017 here.


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