Week 7 Update

This week I did not have any time to work on my own project due to conferences and local game jam.  There was DevGAMM on Monday, Casual Connect on Tuesday til Thursday, Seattle Indies game jam on Friday til Sunday. In fact, I’m writing this from the game jam, now that I have some free time after churning art assets over the last 3 days.

I took a lot of notes from the conferences:

From DevGAMM:

  • localizations boost sales & visibility / discovery (which is a big issue for current game developers)
  • VR experience has more impact than video games. Positive – people who play more VR can overcome certain phobias, such as height. Negative – can be traumatizing & bad experience, user no longer interested in VR (not just your product). Design carefully

What I learn from Casual Connect:

From Things to learn from Raw Data:

  1. know target audience (hard core players, expressive, or creative).
  2. Community management. Target VR enthusiast, engage them. Know where to reach the community based on audience (pc gamers use reddit). Do content marketing – for example create graphic novel about in- game content for Comic Con. Run Freaky Friday event where VR devs from different companies try each other’s products, share the result with the community.
  3. Identify the influencers. Give keys at pre-alpha to streamers or influential VR enthusiasts
  4. Key relationship. Build & maintain relationships with platform companies, like Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, etc. Look for opportunities to get featured in the platform store.
  5. Analytic – use data to find information
  6. Launch. Use appropriate information to present at conferences & events. For example, highlight technical talk for GDC, while talking more about contents and features at E3.
  7. Demo & arcade. Give public opportunity to try the product.
  8. Optimizations – happen early & often; level of detail art assets need to be tested in VR; sound location matters (ex, for a gun, the cocking sound, bullet, shooting sfx need to be separated)
  9. Breaking rules- let user have control of the head; if dev need to add feature, make sure it enhances the experience, not making user uncomfortable.

From Shipping the first VR game (Archangel):

  • make no assumptions
  • VR / AR needs a lot more testing than games
  • Need testing using all elements (textured 3d assets, effects, lighting, audio) instead of just greyboxing/ temp assets
  • understand what works
  • expect delays, need more iteration in VR than games
  • expect technical challenges, especially if managing multiple platforms
  • expect process challenges. It’ s even more difficult when working with remote team members
  • When designing interactions, consider different skill levels. Consider user position. There’s a reason stand up meetings are super short. Consider players daily activities. People who work long hours standing might not want to go home & play standing up.
  • UI – text is hard to read
  • Locomotion – still the hardest problem in VR
  • Budgeting – add 100% to budget compared to game dev due to delays, not including hardware. Always add extra time.
  • Stylized art asset can affect a lot in VR. Can’t rely on existing video game assets; they will need to be optimized for VR

From Opportunities and Challenges of Building Games in VR/AR/MR:

  • Challenges: user comfort & fatigue. Unlike video games, it’s hard to play game in VR when we are not feeling well. VR can be isolating than shared experience. Locomotion & motion sickness are still big issues
  • Design tips: don’t go immediate hi-resolution with assets. If needed, reduce amount of things in the world. If it’s not interactable, maybe they need to be removed.   Keep frame rate minimum to 90 (check with device specs). Use spatial sound, cues, haptics. Get experimental to enhance presence.
  • For testing, put a lot of people through the experience, listen to them and also watch their body language. The first test is motion test, to see how the user react to motion sickness. Second test is to see if people understand the experience. The third test is design balancing.
  • Comfort & accessibility – consider designing experience that can be used with only 1 controller. Implement height adjustment for those in wheelchair. Give people alternatives for sensor (?), for example after a while player can get tired of talking, standing, etc.

From State of VR Content in 2017:

  • VR is not casual, nor it’s like everything else (mobile game, PC games, etc)
  • Don’t coast on novelty. People are no longer shocked. They want more experience.
  • Explore both PC and mobile. Mobile systems are getting closer to closer to PC.
  • Be more broad on genre. People are curious.

From Investment Opportunity for VR Gaming Studios:

  • In VR/AR, a lot of creative works come from women. However, lots of funding are not going to them.
  • Investors look at company’s portfolio before investing. They look at the leadership of the company, what they’re thinking about the future, whether they have longetivity, have enough money to survive 18-24 months, also if they’re willing to learn and grow.
  • VCs currently avoid investing on hardware, since they take a while to tweak. They like to invest in market trend, not in long-term R&D projects. They invest in tools & contents. They’re big on location-based entertainment.

For the game jam, the theme is “it’s not a scam”.  I’m working in a team of 5 people (2 programmers, one audio person, one 3D artist.)  We are working on VR experience of a buyer’s remorse, when the user bought their dream space ship, only to find that things break along the way. The development process is interesting. We have one person with Oculus Rift + touch, and two people with HTC Vive, all working on the same project at the same time.  We are using mainly SteamVR and Newton VR for physics.  If anyone is interested, you can download our project at https://github.com/chinnie/SpaceLemonVR .   Currently the main scene is integrated for HTC Vive build, but the unity project main scene can be run on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift + Touch.

Here is video from the presentation:

Plan for next week:
– sleep in and relaxing on Monday.
– create art assets for Enliven VR

See you next week!