Population: One is fast-approaching launch on October 22nd and will be coming to both the Oculus Quest platform and PC VR headsets at the same time with full crossplay. But as it turns out, BigBox VR isn’t stopping their plans there. You can also read my latest hands-on preview right here.
In a recent interview about Population: One with the company’s CEO, Chia Chin Lee, and CTO, Gabe Brown, we discussed the past two years of development time, what it’s like to finally be building toward a firm launch date, and post-launch support.
You may not remember or know this but Population: One was originally a PC VR-only game. In fact, I played it way back at CES 2019 at the Vive Press Conference and really enjoyed it. This industry moves fast though and that version I saw back then never released.
Porting Population: One VR Battle Royale
“We basically rebuilt the entire engine over again,” says Lee. “We built every single asset in-engine and wanted that to be delivered to any headset that became available. So it wasn’t even about Quest 1 or Quest 2, it was more about, ‘Can this work in a mobile device?’ Once that mobile device gets better and better, we want to extend that support.”
Brown continues: “On PC we had 24 players and on Quest now we have 18 currently. A lot of that had to do with rewriting a big chunk of Unity. The physics engine, PhysX, was too slow to run and it was running on the main threads. We had three cores so we needed to spread the work across all those cores and most game engines like Unreal and Unity don’t quite support that. So we had to rewrite a brand new, multithreaded, asynchronous physics engine, particle system, our own rendering engine, our networking layers runs asynchronously. So we had to write this new system that leverages quite a bit of super computing techniques for the mobile phone in order to make this possible…it was a big undertaking but overall we feel like this was the right investment because of the Quest, the Quest 2, and what the future of VR is going to be. We needed to be inclusive of all platforms.”
During the interview, following this description about inclusivity for devices with Population: One I asked about the potential for a PSVR version. Fortunately, it sounds like that’s already part of the plan.
“Definitely,” says Lee. “We want to be on every platform. But we have to first nail the Quest platform, then PC VR, and then we definitely have plans for PSVR.”
Population: One releases on October 22nd for Quest and PC VR. Let us know if you plan on playing down in the comments below!