In the most recent edition of our list of new releases for HTC Vive, we highlighted an Early Access sandbox experience that pushed you to create your own virtual living space from the decorations to the furniture. VR Home is an intriguing and visually impressive interactive experience that looks to have quite a great deal of potential, so imagine our surprise when we learned that the application was being developed by a 14-year-old coder. We reached out to him via email and discussed his inspirations, the future of VR Home as it evolves in Early Access, and his own ideal virtual space.
Dan O’Neill took to Reddit under his developer moniker Dandover to make it known that he’d just released VR Home a few days ago, sharing that it had taken the past 7 months to put everything together. He’d also invested all of his Christmas, birthday, and accrued pocket money into it and wanted to reinvest 90% of whatever he earned from its release into more assets for the game. “When I first got the HTC Vive there was next to nothing on the market, so I started messing around in Unity,” O’Neill says via email when we asked about what inspired him to start working on VR Home. “When I first opened it, I tried to make a simple apartment, and it looked great. After a few days of playing about with that, I realized that having the ability to design rooms and then walk about them in VR was a lot of fun, so the next day I began developing VR Home.”
O’Neill’s father also joined the discussion on Reddit when another user made a suggestion for the game that would involve having Google Streetview images outside of the windows of the virtual homes. Dan rewarded that user with a free key and his father shared how when he let O’Neill try out the HTC Vive for the first time, “the smile on his face told me everything”. He also jokingly threatened him with being grounded if he didn’t improve an aspect of the game, but it’s very clear that his father is impressed and continues to encourage him to complete his project.
Considering how solid VR Home is at its current stage, you’d think O’Neill has a lot more experience with game development than he actually does. “I have never made a game before, but over a few years I have made some pretty popular Minecraft mods and am constantly playing around with various different programming languages,” he says. Some of that work directly inspired features in VR Home, specifically a scrapped mod idea that turned into the functional televisions you’ll find in your virtual living space.
O’Neill is hard at work improving the game while it’s in Early Access with plans to add multiplayer, customer model imports, PDF books, and thousands of furniture models to the final game. Creatively he’s bringing his ideas to fruition but also creating a program that brings his own personal dreams to life. His own ideal dwelling “would be a beautiful, large home as I can’t afford one in real life” but, he says, “it’s nice to have the option to have one in VR”. We at UploadVR do hope that these virtual homes blaze a path for this young man to achieve all that he desires and we’ll be looking forward to more content or new games.