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December 24th, 2020 | by Mathieu Gayet

Focus: Barking Dogs, the independent way to immersive video games

Virtual reality found its first audience when the video game industry took interest in it. While the largest companies invest in it, we should not forget the independent studios that have long offered content suitable for immersive entertainment. Look at The Barking Dog Entertainment, a creative studio with an already full line-up.

Background on Barking Dog Entertainment, VR movies and Zombies, of course

Founder of Barking Dog Entertainment, Dean Hsu started to write scripts and novels in high school. He became involved and extended his network in entertainment and film circles. With his passion for storytelling, he directed short films while studying towards a graduate degree in Communication Engineering.

Dean and his team started to try VR short films back in 2015 when VR was yet hitting headlines. His first VR film, a horror piece, published on YouTube and received one million hits in fewer than 30 days. He was very much into running VR OTTs. The ecosystem was not mature and ready back in 2015. He decided to combine his cinematic storytelling and 3D technology knowledge to work with clients to create what is needed in 3D content and VR. In 2017, Dean and the team started to develop their own gaming content, the Chinese Zombie Villa.

The studio’s debut content, a VR game called “The Chinese Zombie Villa” (available on Steam) is inspired by 1985 Hong Kong comedy horror film “Mr. Vampire” (殭屍先生). “The Chinese Zombie Villa” recreates some of the most unforgettable scenes and items used to subjugate evil spirits in the classic, from the Taoist talisman, myrtle sword, to zombies dressed in a robe characteristic of mandarins during the Qing Dynasty.

The story of Chinese Zombie Villa

The playbook of the game involves the gamer taking the role of a student who must collect and transport his/her uncle's body to be buried in his hometown. The journey will be strewn with obstacles and challenges while allowing the gamer to experience the "breath-holding" excitement of attaching a paper talisman with a sealing spell onto the forehead of a hopping zombie to stop the reanimated corpse from lunging towards him/her.

CEO Dean Hsu of The Barking Dog noted that the company had been dedicated to developing entertainment products employing AR/VR technologies since its establishment in April 2018. Within months, the games it launched have been well-received among visitors to the 2018 Taipei Game Show, PlayX4 in South Korea, and Taiwan Expo 2018 in Thailand. Following the success of the Chinese Zombie Villa, The Barking Dog has launched its second VR gaming content, Magic Night Party I and II, allowing two to four players at a time.

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Apart from leading the company to upscale, Dean has never let go of his passion for films and is still working with young talents to help them with film production financing opportunities. He is also deputy executive director of Taiwan Film-related Creative Industries Association (TFCIA).

Narrative and/or Interactive Virtual Reality

As it has become much easier and convenient to learn how to work with game engines, this phenomenon has bridged the gap for IT students or professionals with an IT and software background to combine coding, programming and animation skills to create content in VR.

Given the exceptional impressiveness of VR, creators can transfer what they see, scenes and stories through interactive technology for the audience to step in the “three-dimensional” content. This creates and differs viewing experiences from the traditional two-dimensional film, making it an immersive experience, and the audience becomes a part of the story. This is why we favor creating and producing interactive VR content.

Interaction is something we have learned from creating VR AR gaming content. And we work closely with cinematic content creators to bridge the gap and make technology available to them, not an obstacle.

Welcome AI

The Barking Dog is working towards integrating AI into VR creation by using image recognition and natural language processing, making virtual beings more realistic and to enhance the true interaction and instructiveness between human beings and virtual beings. This can be largely used in content creation, entertainment performances, as well as industrial training.

https://www.thebarkingdog-games.com/

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KOSMOS, the XR Startup Incubator Platform supported by Kaohsiung City Government, under the Somatosensory Technology Park Project, promotes creative innovation, local manufacturing and exporting total solutions. The incubator platform provides technical support, cross-industry collaboration, and business consultation, making Kaohsiung a development base and hub prepping for local XR startups expanding internationally.

Economic Development Bureau, Kaohsiung City Government AD

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