How VR porn captivated the man behind Call of Duty’s Roman Wars prototype

Recently Venturebeat.com interviewed our very own Dan Dilallo. Daniel Dilallo has worked on high-end console games such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. But now he has shifted into a hot new gig: making porn apps for virtual reality. In some ways, this career transition is not a surprise, and Dilallo is not alone in making the leap. The move has opened new opportunities and a chance to make a fortune on the technological frontier, where everything is moving fast and the promise of riches awaits. VR is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2020, according to tech advisor Digi-Capital.





But Dilallo has had to leave some of his past behind, as porn doesn’t have the same stamp of legitimacy as the game industry does in many circles.
How VR porn captivated the man behind Call of Duty’s Roman Wars prototypeJimmy Hess of VixenVR and Daniel Dilallo of 3x Studios.
Dilallo is based in Jacksonville, Florida, where he runs 3x Studios, which focuses on VR apps. He is working on projects such as a 3D-animated shopping mall for porn and a VR version of the Gold Club strip club in San Francisco. Fans can visit the virtual strip club and get lap dances that “look and feel like the real thing,” Dilallo claims. (Of course, no one is sitting in your lap, but the feeling is a lot more immersive when you see it in VR).
“I never thought I would go into adult VR,” Dilallo said. “I really liked the medical VR space. It had potential to help people. I focused on it and built a couple of prototypes. I approached some venture capital groups. VR is expensive. My type of designs combine film production and game development. I wasn’t able to raise the money to keep my team.” So Dilallo had to think hard about what to do next. He added, “The team was very valuable. Four highly trained developers could do the work of 20. But I couldn’t keep them working in that medical space. I started taking one VR project after another, from Lamborghini to Playboy. I made a little money from random development stuff in VR marketing. We were just getting by, and the space that was moving the quickest was the adult space.
The adult space drives technology, and I am a direct witness to that.” I met Dilallo at a virtual reality meetup at The Armory, the famous San Francisco landmark that is now owned by Peter Acworth, the owner of Kink.com (the maker of BDSM and fetish porn films). His company was among a dozen at the event that were working in VR porn. Dilallo has had a chance to shoot at The Armory, where they have tons of bondage props in the basement and store lubricant by the barrel. It is, of course, a controversial place. But I met more game developers there than I expected. Dilallo got to porn through a circuitous path. He may not be the usual person you think of when you envision a video game developer at a big corporation. He has tattoos all over, and he enjoys cage fighting. (I didn’t ask him a whole lot about this.) And he loves the night club atmosphere and places like gentlemen’s clubs. He’s always had a passion to combine film and games. He started out as a tester at Acclaim Entertainment for about a year and a half. Then he went to college at Full Sail University, in Winter Park, Florida, where he got a computer engineering degree. He went straight to a job at Activision at a studio in Albany, N.Y., where he worked as a mission designer for an Amazing Spider-Man video game. “My goal was always to become a game director,” he said. “I knew the different disciplines, and I knew I had to know engineering really well to be able to do design. I wanted to be a smart director and know the engineering side and know how my decisions would affect all the different disciplines in a game.” He worked under the umbrella of Vicarious Visions, an Activision-owned studio, from 2006 to 2011. He went on to work on tools for Guitar Hero III and audio design on Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. He did game design on Spyro and then shifted to the innovations lab, where he worked on two Call of Duty and Guitar Hero prototypes. This summer, Dilallo received some surprise notoriety (albeit anonymously) under the nickname “Polemos.” He told sites such as Games Radar (and yes, he is outing himself here on VentureBeat) that he started working on a combat game set in ancient Rome. He did this work before he went to Activision. He wrote the story about Julius Caesar’s 10th Roman Legion while he was in college. Then, while he was at Vicarious Visions, he proposed a game dubbed Call of Duty: Roman Wars.
How VR porn captivated the man behind Call of Duty’s Roman Wars prototypeHe was the lead designer for it, and it featured combat like what you’d find in the movie 300 and followed Caesar through the Gallic wars. His prototype showed scenes with thunderous music, and it included one level where Caesar besieged the city of Alesia in 52 B.C. The prototype showed Roman soldiers marching near the city and cavalry riding to the gates. In 2010, the game proposal started gathering steam within the studio where he worked, with multiple coworkers contributing to the prototype during off hours, because they believed in it. Dave Stoll, head of Infinity Ward and former head of studios at Activision, said the project never got the go-ahead. And Dilallo acknowledged that it never got the green light. Vicarious Visions now works mostly on the Skylanders series. “That was a prototype I created at the innovations lab,” Dilallo said. “I pushed for it so hard, and met with everybody in the Vicarious chain. But they went with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and the futuristic Call of Duty games. I don’t know what happened. “There was a year and a half of craziness at Activision, where they merged with Blizzard and expanded Call of Duty to so many studios. It was a lot of turmoil during that time, and it was bad timing for that project.” Dilallo also worked a new version of Guitar Hero in his own time.
He wanted to shift the music sim’s point of view from third person to first person, so that you played as a member of a band who looked out at the audience and soaked in the vibes from the noisy concert goers as they cheered you on. The characters in the crowd were filmed, but they reacted as if they were interactive animations. But Dilallo chose to leave the company instead of seeing that project through. Activision put Guitar Hero on ice for a while, as the publisher and others oversaturated the market for games with plastic musical instruments. Then it revived the project as Guitar Hero Live, releasing it in 2015. Sadly, Dilallo never got credit for the Guitar Hero Live when Activision revived the idea and gave the work to Freestyle Games (Activision never commented on Dilallo’s contributions when Polygon asked). And in 2011, Dilallo chose to part ways with the company.
“I spent five years at Activision and had an option to work on Call of Duty or take severance,” he said. “I took the severance because I was addicted to my work and didn’t see my family for a long time. I worked all day long. “Game development is a competitive space and it’s always evolving. To be at my peak, I had to put in a ridiculous amount of hours. It’s just like a gamer. The real professional gamers have to work on it every single day. Same as a designer. I spent my weekends doing it, and I overdid it. People told me I had to go home and stop. When I had a chance to take a break with the severance, I took it.” He returned to his dream about merging films and games from the early 1990s, when Sega’s first CD product enabled developers to merge video and games. “Ever since I played with the Sega CD, my vision was to have a fully interactive film where the user is not watching a hero,” he said. “He becomes a hero. The pinnacle is to have a fully smart interactive film where the user plays the hero.” Moving into virtual reality — and porn At that point, Dilallo looked at his options and grew excited about a new area of video games: virtual reality. After the Oculus Rift bubbled up in 2013 and Oculus VR issued its development kit (DK1), Dilallo checked it out. “I knew it was going to hit big,” he said. Dilallo assembled a small team, but he couldn’t get enough work. One of his business partners secured some work doing a VR prototype for Playboy. The project drew a lot of attention in user testing. “Everybody was going nuts over that, and I could see from the reaction that it would be a bigger market,” Dilallo said.
A couple of years ago, Dilallo realized that porn and other “adult entertainment” projects would generate a lot of money. He worked on one called Temptation Towers, which was like a shopping mall for porn. That project included partnerships with KinkVR, BadoinkVR, Muscle Girl Fitness, and several others. Wearing a VR headset, you walk into a room and then into a porn film, viewing it from a first-person perspective. Temptation Towers is live and available on places like BadoinkVR. “The user can reach out and undress an actress,” Dilallo said. “We want the videos to feel interactive. That’s the kind of technology I have been working on for almost 10 years now.” Under the company ModeVR, he also worked with cofounder Jimmy Hess on VixenVR, a title where you hang out with beautiful girlfriends, filmed in VR, in a VixenVR Apartment. It has a “Sims” feel to it, Dilallo said. He also served as the director of a new VR experience dubbed Kim Kardashian Superstar, a Vivid-produced show that uses Kardashian’s X-rated video. There’s also another project coming out on a “gentlemen’s club experience” in VR. He partnered with former porn actress Christy Mack and the San Francisco Gold Club on the VR strip club, which is an interactive strip club in VR. It involves filmed dancers from the club as well as porn stars doing “immersive lap dances.” Players will be able to go into the club, get VIP treatment, sit at tables and get virtual lap dances with pornstars like Megan Rain and Kendra Lust. That project is available for preorder on VixenVR.com, and it will go into soft launch in November. You pay money to go into the club, and then you can purchase special privileges while inside the club for additional money. You can buy credits for solo lap dances, mimicking everything that happens in a real strip club “but at a fraction of the price.” That app will launch in an R-rated version, for more mainstream VR platforms. There’s also a topless version and a fully nude version. Dilallo said he doesn’t want the strip club app to be pigeonholed as a XXX title, and he wants to get it on mainstream platforms such as PlayStation VR.
Over time, Dilallo believes that the combination of filmed porn and interactive gaming will yield powerful results. He thinks that animated porn is a poor substitute, by comparison, at least for now. Film provides the best quality for now in providing the best realism, he said. Daniel Dilallo is working on VR porn at 3x Studios. Above: Daniel Dilallo is working on VR porn at 3x Studios. Image Credit: 3x Studios Dilallo sees other game developers moving into porn, as he has met them at places such as the AVN (Adult Video News) porn awards event in Las Vegas. “The adult space would be where I could support the team and eventually go mainstream,” he said. “We are a young company, with shoestring budgets, without venture capitalists behind us. So we moved into the adult space.” But Dilallo acknowledged that after moving into the adult entertainment, it could get harder to return to the mainstream. “It’s a huge risk for me, as I’ve been working for so many years creating mainstream games like Spyro, Spider-Man 3, Guitar Hero, and Call of Duty,” he said. “I am a mainstream developer and I want to create mainstream augmented reality and virtual reality films in the future. As the user base grows, that’s where I want to go in the mainstream. I’ve already got some doors closed on me. The conventions that reached out and wanted me to speak now have closed the door. It’s the nature of the business. I understand why. People have their beliefs and perceptions. I have to do what I can do to make it in a high competitive industry.” At the same time, he said that working in porn has its perks. He gets to meet a lot of interesting performers and other people in the industry. Take Fivestar, a porn director who helped him with various projects and helped him produce VR film content at the Armory, a place that most people never imagined existed. He has enjoyed working with the BadoinkVR and KinkVR teams that are “very professional at what they do.” “It’s exciting and there’s a lot going on right now. I get to go to a lot of gentlemen’s clubs, meet the owners, and get inside places like The Armory to shoot. I get to see how it works and how people are shooting. The Armory itself is nuts. It gives me great insight for the future,” he said. “I’m not sure I am going to stay in the adult space completely, but I will dabble in it for a long time.” And one day, Dilallo would love to make the Julius Caesar game, a story for which he still has the rights.

 

 



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