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Alumni Spotlight: Ben Vance
Game Director at Wevr Virtual Studio

Ben Vance is a director, designer, and engineer in games and XR. Whether working with Electronic Arts on a top secret Steven Spielberg project, or VR pioneers like Wevr on theBlu and Harry Potter, he brings a uniquely holistic perspective to create powerful, evocative worlds. His award winning independent projects have been at festivals and exhibitions worldwide across the games, technology, art and film industries, from Sundance, to SFMOMA and E3. He is a founding member of Glitch City, a ground-breaking art and game collective based in LA. His intuitive and surprising interaction design stems from a lifelong pursuit of fine art and button pushing.

Ben is currently working on a top-secret epic adventure for Wevr, in addition to some big updates to Screensavers VR, including some well-known guest-artist collaborations.

Games / Interactive experiences Ben has worked on: 

  • Life After Bob (2021)
  • Harry Potter VR: Wizards Take Flight & Chaos at Hogwarts (2021) 
  • Screensavers VR (2019)
  • Irrational Exuberance: Prologue (2016)
  • The Blu: Encounter (2015)
  • Skulls of the Shogun (2013)
  • LMNO (unreleased Spielberg project, 2009)
  • Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007)

Involvement in Glitch City and other community-based activities:

  • Co-founded Glitch City in 2013, board member 2013-2021
  • Dozens of art and game events around LA (and some worldwide)

IndieCade games and programming Ben has been involved in:

  • Screensavers VR, IndieCade 2019 Night Games, Center for Media and Design, Santa Monica College, 2019
  • 2018 Playing TogethAR, Google x Indiecade AR Jam. Finalist with my company FLOAT LAND’s Dark Light prototype, a social multiplayer sci-fi adventure.
  • Screensavers VR, Indiecade 2018 Selection
  • Irrational Exuberance: Prologue, IndieCade showcase @ E3 2016
  • Irrational Exuberance: Prologue, Indiecade 2016 Selection 
  • Skulls of the Shogun, Finalist, IndieCade 2011
  • Juror 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Pictured at an IndieCade event in 2011.

Q&A With Ben

Q: How does Wevr Virtual Studio make your production process better?

Peace of mind. I know that there is always a fresh build waiting for me when I need it, or when I need to share it. It offloads a part of production that isn’t creative and helps me stay focused.

Q: How does this aid collaboration?

It’s crucial to get feedback on interactive projects, and making it easier to share your work at any point in production, to whomever you’d like, is really helpful.

It also means there is no coordination needed to make a build and share it, and no one gets derailed to do that. They can stay focused on their work.

For larger productions, being able to trigger different builds and deployments based on custom criteria is really helpful in sharing work at different cadences with different groups and visibility – publishers or investors, vs playtesters, vs QA, vs directors, etc.

Q: What is the impact on your workflow?

It really comes down to fewer interruptions. I can continue working as builds are made and automatically deployed. For devices like Meta Quest, this is a huge time saver to set up once, and then have a fresh build always ready to go. It also brings more predictability to the process which means fewer surprises – or at least fewer surprises when you least want them, near deadlines! 

It’s also really nice that the remote dev team, distributed across time zones, really feels like they are all in one virtual studio together. 

Q: What part did you take in designing the system? Or working with it as it was being designed?

I am a power user of the product and provide feedback.  I have been an active user of the desktop client, the command-line interface, and the website. I give feedback on usability and bugs, and share my own game development pains with the team to help with planning new features.

Q: What irritation/ annoyance does it help solve?

Builds are usually pretty easy to start. But waiting for them to finish and getting them where they need to be is annoying at best, and can sometimes tie up your machine and attention for hours.

Q: What would be your advice to others for getting started?

It’s pretty easy to get going no matter your experience level. Just request early access and jump into the WVS discord to connect with the community and talk to the team. You can start new projects or import from GitHub super easily, or upload any Unity, Unreal, Godot, or other project you have.

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