One year after launch

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of a pivotal moment in my life. The HTC Vive was released and I released Irrational Exuberance: Prologue— the first significant project under my direction.

Much of Irrational Exuberance was built myself, but it wouldn’t have been possible without my friends and colleagues, especially towards launch. It’s a kind of insanity to launch anything that seeks to do something new. Solo and small teams especially need support to pull it off. I want to give my deepest thanks to everyone who has supported me and this project.

Occasionally one might be asked to speak on the top of a monument in Bogotá, Columbia.

A Brief History

Launch was the culmination of many years, beginning with the Oculus Rift DK1 in 2013. I built a self-funded 15-minute prototype of Irrational Exuberance over 6 months, where I discovered how cool space, darkness, and thoughtful atmosphere are in VR. I scrapped almost all of the moment-to-moment design after I saw the prototype that would become the HTC Vive, thanks to Valve, in early 2014. It changed everything. I questioned everything as much as I could. Later that year I worked with Wevr on TheBlu’s whale encounter. I continued to invest in Irrational, and I’m thankful that Wevr jumped in to help fund wrapping up Prologue. We were planning a late 2015 launch but it was pushed back. I reassessed, polished more (obsessed) for the April 2016 launch.

With excitement and anxiety, I released Prologue into the wild on April 5th, 2016. I feared I wouldn’t connect to an audience and that it wouldn’t be understood. I also worried that it wasn’t enough to show where the larger experience will go, and that this kind of “statement” about what VR could be (and what I want from it) wasn’t strong enough. The response has been overwhelming, and although I do think Prologue’s “statement” could be much stronger, this glimpse of a world I want to be in, that I want to exist, resonated — in some cases deeply so.

My favorite way to show VR: outside! (above: Daedalus aka Alfred Darlington)

Festivals, talks, demos, oh my

So what of the last year? I spent time traveling to festivals all over the world thanks to the reception of Prologue, from Bogota, Colombia to Melbourne, Australia, from Toronto to Park City, Utah. Not to mention lots of opportunities to show it around LA. It has been a huge honor and a bit surreal to realize it’s shown at over 20 festivals and events on 5 continents. I’ve also been looking for partners to help fund the full two hour experience and continue to do so. I’ve picked up some projects to exercise different design muscles and help pay the bills. All the while, Irrational Exuberance has continued to evolve and develop in my free time, along with the help of collaborators. I can’t wait to share more!

In the near term, I’ll be releasing an update to Prologue to resolve performance problems that have developed in the last few months due to changes in the underlying technology stack. Remarkably, it ran great without any updates for almost 9 months.* The coming update will also have some minor features and tech upgrades.

To the future

I want to thank all our fans and those who have supported Irrational Exuberance. This is a project I care deeply about and is still very much alive. If you’d like to continue to support the project, the best thing you can do is to make that support visible — add Irrational Exuberance to your wishlist on Steam and follow us on your preferred social mediums. You can also subscribe to news and sponsor the project directly via IrrationalExuberanceVR.com.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you and discussing what VR, as a transformational medium, can be.

Ben Vance
Founder, Buffalo Vision

Ps. Thank you to Wevr, Kaleidoscope, Valve, Oculus, Glitch City, Sundance, TIFF, IndieCade, and especially to my fellow collaborators.

* a quick fix for the problem is to disable reprojection, both asynchronous and interleaved, in the Steam settings.