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District 9 director wants to make a video game, experiment with VR

It’s just a matter of time

Sony Pictures

Neill Blomkamp, the director behind District 9, Elysium and Chappie, wants to make a video game. He just needs to the find the time first.

Blomkamp is no stranger to video games. He’s cited Portal 2 and the Halo franchise as inspirations for scenes and weaponry in his movies. Most recently, he used E3, one of the largest video game conventions, to debut his new experimental short film, Rakka. Sitting down to talk to Polygon about his new project, Oats Studios, which will use Steam as a way to help fund future films — users can watch Rakka for free, then pay for bonus materials, like scripts and concept art — and allow him to work with collaborators, the conversation turned to games.

More specifically, would Blomkamp ever consider making a game himself?

“Absolutely,” Blomkamp said. “Once I think that Oats is on its feet and I’m not working on a big feature, I would love to make a game. A lot of that stuff really resonates with me. I would love to make something like Titanfall, Halo or Battlefield.”

While Blomkamp is a filmmaker first and foremost, his background is in 3D modeling. At E3, Blomkamp told host Geoff Keighley that he was always drawn to the way games used modeling as a way of creating worlds more so than actually playing the game itself. With a couple of movies under his belt, Blomkamp told Polygon he would love to apply that style of storytelling to games while creating worlds through 3D modeling he’s always wanted to.

The only issue, of course, is time.

“Doing that requires a massive amount of focus, and the focus for me right now is film and Oats,” Blomkamp said. “Making games requires a different process to filmmaking and you have to commit on focusing to that entirely, which I can not do right now.”

That’s not to say that Blomkamp isn’t interested in toying around with different, interactive formats in the meantime. One of the projects Blomkamp is working on is in the game engine Unity. While they’re not making a playable game, as defined by Blomkamp, his team is creating a world that could potentially be explored. One of the avenues Blomkamp is interested in exploring is VR and how porting a project to something like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive could take a non-interactive experience and make it fully interactive.

“We're not making a game because we're not creating playable characters,” Blomkamp explained. “But we're creating an experience in a real-time engine. If we port it to VR, that’s one step closer to understanding how to design that experience.”

With Oats Studios still fresh and projects like Rakka, an ongoing, post-apocalyptic saga that Blomkamp is working on, on the go, don’t expect a video game from Blomkamp any time soon. Still, the director is learning a little bit about the trade. During his time at E3, Blomkamp said he spoke to legendary developer Hideo Kojima about film and games. When asked if he took anything specific away from the conversation, Blomkamp laughed.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Kojima is a very, very interesting guy. He’s really cool.”

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