Student Spotlight: Lee Walker - Bringing XR Skills to Gaming
October 08 2021
The XR Development with Unity course from Circuit Stream is a project-based 10-week live online course, where students learn the fundamentals of augmented and virtual reality development with Unity game engine.
In this segment of our Student Spotlight series, we talked with Lee Walker — a self-employed IT professional with with a passion for all facets of extended reality brought him to the decision to take the XR Development with Unity course.
Lee Walker isn't just any software developer. With 30 years of experience in IT and 7 years of software development, he had a technical background to tackle new extended technologies and mediums. Over the last 15 years Lee ran a successful IT onsite service and grew it with his wife to a successful business with hundreds of satisfied customers.
But that's just part of his life. While running the business, he also owns and runs an escape room in Ormond Beach — Wild Puzzle, learning online classes Arduino programming. studying animation and 3d print. If that's not enough Lee also build things like electric guitars and operates an extra rated ham radio.
Nurturing a Passion for XR
Lee has been interested in VR for years. At the 2013 Pocket Gamers app developer convention in San Francisco he met one of the developers of Texas Hold'em, the first app on the iPhone app store. While he doesn't remember her name, he did learn that she started developing for Samsung Gear VR - a new VR medium, and was at the conference showing off her newest app.
“[The App] It was great. It still had a lot of screen doors, and controls were flaky, but it was cool. Then, a few years ago I got my first Oculus Quest, and that was it. I was hooked after 10 minutes into my first Oculus Quest session. It was incredible. Still is.”
Lee is also impressed with how immersive games like Arizona Sunshine can be.
"I’m impressed with the feeling of presence and connection in social VR, but I think the digital twin apps using clips of real locations are the most impressive to me. They make you feel like you have traveled."
Started Learning XR by Himself and Continued with Circuit Stream
Lee started his XR education by joining the group UniVeRse which ran classes in Altspace — a VR community platform. He also supplemented his knowledge gaps with YouTube tutorials. Since he has dozens of years of technical experience and holds a degree in Computer Science the actual technical part wasn't an obstacle for him.
“I have a folder on my desktop full of ideas. I have for years. Cell Phone games, utility apps for life, and now VR apps. My goal was to finish the Circuit Stream course, test for Unity certification, and get a job in XR. It hasn’t worked quite that way yet, but it’s going really well. I have connections that are all coming together, and I expect I’ll be making a living in XR early next year, without having to work for someone else. It couldn’t be better as far as I’m concerned.”
What drove me to Circuit Stream was the partnership with Unity and the quality of the instructors — I was in the class with Tyrell Lewin and I had my one-on-one sessions with Cash Garman .
The development portion was extremely easy for him, since the tech has always came easy to him.
“I’ve found the development to be extremely easy to learn. The most surprising part is probably how easy it is to find an answer when you get stuck. The XR Development course was great. I loved the classes, and really enjoy the connection to the community since. It is fantastic! ”
Knee Deep in XR Gaming Projects
Since taking the Circuit Stream's XR course, Lee has been accepted into the Oculus Launch Pad program where he is focused on developing, optimizing and publishing his VR fitness game titled BlackWatch.
"I’m working on a fitness game. It’s essentially a tower defense game where you charge the towers by striking drums. It’s 85-90% complete, but I’m still working on the game play mechanics. Once those are a little more tuned I’ll be dropping it on AppLab for comments and to help guide the work to finish it."
He's expecting to finish the app by November, 2021!
The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy app requires a therapist to operate, so I can’t really share it, but I’ll share news about it as it progresses. I’m also working on an XR app for runners providing a “ghost” pacer to help and motivate the runner.
Lee is also a winner of 5 Day Transformational VR Challenge where he ideated, designed and validated his VR game idea with potential users. To follow Lee's apps follow him on his YouTube channel.
Lee’s Big Takeaway
Clearly Lee didn't have any issues with the programming and scripting. The biggest insight was the ease of transferring his engineering skills to the XR.
When asking if he's recommend taking the course he said he would absolutely recommend it.
"If you follow along and work at it, this class will give you all the tools you need to begin development. You can do videos, and follow along, and learn a lot, but you can’t replace the expert support and guidance Circuit Stream provides. The community after the class is also phenomenally important and valuable. Connections like it provides are the key to finding work in the industry."
If you want to be as proficient with XR development, Lee recommends the following:
"During class, take every chance to code. Experiment. Make things just for fun. After you complete the class, do game jams, enter challenges, hit people up and ask questions, get involved in the XR community. This week I’m attending 6 free developer seminars, and attending the VRARA European Conference online. I’ll code for 20-30
hours this week and I’ll attend classes and interact with different VR or AR organizations at least that much. Both are extremely important. Get involved if you want to succeed. You’ll be amazed what it can lead to."
Interested in XR Unity development or learning about AR and VR?
Take a look at our course content and syllabus.
Want to know exactly what you’ll learn? Download the course syllabus.