Alex Silkin is the Co-Founder and CTO at Survios. He has been working in VR development since 2012, prior to the release of the first modern VR consumer headset, the Oculus Rift. His primary focus has been player facing systems, such as motion controller mechanics, VR avatar embodiment and user interface.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time when I met Nathan Burba and James Iliff who were pitching Project Holodeck as an Advanced Games project at USC in spring 2012. Their pitch was the craziest idea out of all the proposals by far — they wanted to build a multiplayer VR experience at a time when VR was still very much a sci-fi fantasy. They wanted to hack together a head mounted display using off the shelf parts and planned to create a coop pirate ship VR game to run on this contraption. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to interview to join the team and later that summer I bought a pair of Razer Hydra controllers to experiment with motion controls, at which point I was hooked.
What drew you to VR specifically?
I love tackling all the novel challenges related to allowing the player to inhabit the virtual world. On one hand, there is the interaction aspect — VR hardware is giving the creators a much richer set of input to allow users to influence the world in natural and creative ways. On the other hand, there is just so much creative problem solving required to translate all the systems that we take for granted from traditional 2D games into the VR dimension.
What are some of your favorite pieces of work you have created?
I think the most fun project that I worked on by far would be the Raw Data PvP mode. It was very rewarding to iterate on this mode’s formula as we honed in on something that I personally felt like a very addicting gameplay loop. I feel like we managed to make a fairly balanced yet highly dynamic competitive experience that gave players the choice of 4 drastically different playable heroes on the same battlefield. When we launched the mode, I had so many fond memories playing our creation with our players.
Learn more about the Survios team’s latest work at https://survios.com/studio/