Your interview to me: The Ghost answers your questions

Hello all! The celebrations for the #GhostBDay are continuing! Yesterday I’ve announced this blog’s first birthday and today I want to answer to some of your curiosities about me or about VR! As I’ve already told you, for my blog’s birthday I wanted to let you interview me… so for one day, I would be the interviewee and not the interviewer. At this purpose, I’ve selected some of the questions you have sent me and blended them with some general curiosities and created this post! Thank you to everyone that has submitted a question and… happy reading!

Why is your name Skarredghost?

Ehm, actually it’s a secret. Maybe one day I’ll reveal it, maybe not. It’s a name that I created a long time ago when I was thinking about starting a little game studio with Gianni Rosa Gallina. It was the time when I tried creating a little 2D game engine by myself starting from Direct2D (a little advice for you: NEVER TRY DOING THAT), while creating a little game about a nice character called Pepperoni Gusher.

pepperoni gusher 2d game
Sprite sheet of Pepperoni Gusher. He’s an ordinary guy but is able to make you laugh a lot (Image credit: me and Gianni, drawing made by Alice)

Googling around I saw that lots of indie devs had fancy nicknames, so I thought it was cool to find one for me, too. After a lot of thinking, I came out with this one that I liked for various reasons. The most similar English term is “scarred ghost”, in fact my first logo featured a cute ghost with a scar on its sheet.

Skarredghost VR
First avatar of mine… isn’t it cute?

I created a twitter account to connect with other indie devs with that nickname and started understanding how social media worked. Then the project wrecked and the game never came to light. Years later I started the Immotionar project that you all know and so Gianni advised me to return on twitter using my old account and so I did. After that, I started using Skarredghost on all my social accounts and even on this blog.

When did you start experimenting with VR?

In 2014. It was when I started collaborating with Gianni for a project involving AR (the project that later became ImmotionAR). We were super-hyped about Google Glass and had a lot of ideas involving them: having seen the promotional videos we were dreaming of making a lot of amazing AR applications that could change the world!

Then we managed to try them and remained deluded because they were really awful.

Ok, maybe the reaction is a bit excessive, since the Glass was actually a very interesting product… but it wasn’t surely able to keep up with the expectation they created (Image by QuickMeme)

Luckily Gianni had a plan B: the Oculus Rift. I clearly remember the day when he took the Rift DK2 in the office… I was happy like a kid that has just seen a jar full of Nutella. I tried them with the Tuscany demo and I was really excited by them: I was in another virtual world! The resolution was mediocre, there was no room-scale, no controllers… but I really loved it! It was like being teleported to a new magical world! That has been my first experience with VR… and after that, I never wanted to come back.

Would you marry a girl in VR?

Honestly not. I’m still a fan of the real world. I’m still someone that loves sketching on a piece of paper using a pen. I like to hang out with friends, I like to feel the smell of nature. I love VR really a lot, but the real world is still my priority. A marriage is an important event and so I want to live it in the real world and hug all my friends that have come there to support me and feel the warmth of their bodies.

How big is the VR scene in Italy? Didn’t you consider moving to a country where VR business is more booming, like USA or China?

VR in Italy is… not that good. In 2015, when we started speaking with other IT companies about our expertise, lots of them didn’t even know what VR was (in 2015!). Now lots of people know what VR is, thanks to exhibitions (for instance in EXPO Milan there were a lot of virtual reality headsets showcasing 360 videos) and Samsung commercials about Gear VR.

But very few people have a high-end VR headset: all my friends want to come to my office to try my Oculus Rift, but no one is willing to actually buy one. There are some companies working on VR, but I can say I know all the companies that work in VR in my city (they’re less than 10). Things are getting better, but surely we are far behind the US or China.

I thought a lot of time about going there… surely being successful in VR would be easier. Getting investments would be easier. Attending events, too. But at the moment I want to try staying here and pushing the VR ecosystem here. If things won’t go as I want, I may consider migrating as a plan B. Anyway, I’m already getting addicted to 奶茶 to be prepared for when I’m going to China…

bubble tea vr
Bubble Tea with matcha tea… love it
Why did you start this blog?

I was at the European Innovation Academy and we were having 15 minutes of consultancy with a marketing mentor called Tommaso Di Bartolo (he’s a serial entrepreneur of the Silicon Valley, with Italian roots). We asked him how to do proper marketing for Immotionar and he said that the crucial part would be building a VR community. “If there is not a recognized VR expert out there, you should be the VR expert” he said. This seemed a sentence of Master Yoda, but I took it very seriously. When EIA finished, Gianni went on vacation and I remained in Turin to create Hit Motion game with my buddy Max (and his friend Viktor).

That Yoda sentence continued sounding into my mind: I realized that Immotionar blog wasn’t suitable to create a community, because it was too related to a company project and because it was too complicated to be maintained (every post had to be written in two languages, I wasn’t able to use Umbraco, etc…). So I decided to start my personal adventure of blogger, to have something truly mine where I could express my opinions, free of any involvement of my company but that was able to draw some traffic to my company. And so The Ghost Howls started. Now it is very different from the start, it’s a standalone project, not only a marketing element.

Is this your first blog?

No. Some years ago I had a funny blog in Italian language, but it was a disaster, so I closed it after a year and a half. It has been an interesting experience because it taught me the first lessons of blogging and social media management.

Then I wrote a lot of articles for Immotionar blog before starting this adventure. That taught me how to keep a magazine inside a team.

Oculus or Vive?

Both. I’m an Oculus owner, but the reason is that last year I couldn’t afford to buy both, so I decided to buy Oculus because it has been the first headset I fell in love with. Having tried the Vive several times, I can say that is an awesome product exactly as the Rift. In fact, I don’t understand all this stupid fanboyism about two equivalent techs.

Which is the experience that you would make everyone try in VR?

Dear Angelica, for sure. It is not even a VR experience, it is a piece of art. It has astonished me, it has moved me, it has surprised me. It’s entered deeply into my soul.

I tried a lot of other amazing experiences (roller coasters, Robo Recall, porn, etc…) but no one has managed to generate strong emotions in me like Dear Angelica.

Dear Angelica Oculus storytelling
Dear Angelica almost moved me to tears (Image by Oculus)
Will we ever have a future with a complete VR immersion like in Sword Art Online?

Maybe. I think that to have something like SAO or like The Matrix, we need a headset that is able to emulate all 5 senses and all related sensations that the user can perceive on all the body (pain, heat, cold, etc…). The only possibility is having a device that offers a bi-directional connection directly with the brain of the user... as the plug that in Matrix you put inside your head. Emulating all the sensations with external stimuli is really hard and would require us to wear super-complicated and uncomfortable haptic suits. A brain plug would be better. But to obtain this we’ll need decades (and some beta testers wanting to mess with their brain!).

I’ve no talent and no money but I want to be a millionaire by the end of the year. How could I do this?

This is my favorite question on Quora. There are a lot of people asking this, really. I’ll answer it here once for all: you can’t. If you’ve no talent and no money and want to be rich, well… you can win a lottery, rob a bank, kidnap yourself and then ask your parents for money (works only if you’ve rich parents and you may be deluded by the fact that they’ve no interest in saving you!), start selling drugs, marry a rich and old woman and so on with other ideas that rely on luck or on illegal stuff. But if you’ve no talent, then even illegal stuff are not for you. So, what about hoping that that Nigerian prince that has written you an email to give you all his money is actually saying the truth?

I think that the first point, if you want to become a millionaire, would be stopping asking bullshit 🙂

What have you learned in this year of blogging?

Stay tuned for my next post. It will all about this…

Tell us something about your upcoming project!

Well, since it’s my blog’s birthday… I’ll reveal you the name of my upcoming startup: Yllusion.


And that’s it for this Q&A session! Next post will be about what I’ve learned in this year of VR blogging! Have a nice #TheGhostBDay!

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Skarredghost

AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I’ve no idea what I’m doing.

I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I’ve still not waken up…