Releasing Pen Island VR – Things we learned.

Our first VR Game

Pen Island VR was a game we started as a joke. We were simply friends discussing the concept of having oddly shaped projectiles being thrown at the players face, and then having to defend themselves. We set up a little environment and the concept grew over time. Overall it was a lot of fun, and seeing our friends enjoy the game has been fantastic. To finally have a game released was a giant milestone – mostly because we never seemed to ‘finish’ releasing our game. We always made and worked on games for fun, but never saw one too full completion. We’ve had some people ask us how the game is going, and what it was like releasing a VR game – so I thought I compile the commonly asked questions / tips here.

Get Involved In The Community.

I would say this is the most crucial thing for VR developers at the moment . We got involved fairly late, and in hindsight, this was my mistake. The community is ‘small’ and still growing. Vive owners are increasing, but in a general there aren’t a lot of Vive people so I would say find the community and get involved.

  • Really love the Vive Community on Reddit – definitely be active or at least following it: Reddit Vive
  • Follow on Twitter the VR Communities such as VRScout, HTCVive and other developers you admire.
  • Start a Dev log – even though it might not have a lot of viewers, the small users our there will definitely appreciate it (I know we will for our next project!)

Beta test really, really early.

Get Beta testers in as early as possible – especially on the core mechanic. As with any game, feedback is important, however in VR – we have barely touched the surface and getting use to the virtual world is a journey in itself. Many times we had to explain the controllers, what was usable and what was not (there’s a lot of buttons on the Vive controller for someone who’s rarely held one). A great example is the literal signs in Pen Island VR, we ‘thought’ people would experiment and attempt to pick up the signs, but they don’t – and hence we added a shiny glow to weapons to show what can be picked up.


Do Something unique, or set yourself apart.

I feel we didn’t set ourselves apart from the “Wave Shooter” genre. Although the game is about surviving and deflecting (deflecting them back into the hunters throwing) – it still ‘looks’ like a wave-shooter, and consequently, we were grouped into the genre (and fair enough). I feel the VR community is evolving, and want a newer experience. Go out there and make something unique – and show them. Or really set yourself apart if you are in a particular genre. Try putting a twist on something.


Be Strict on Deadlines, and prepare for timing on Steam.

Steam takes time to review. Firstly – get the store page set up as soon as possible. There’s a two/three day delay, and once you have it up – you can set a ‘coming soon’. That will allow people to see the game at an early stage and set wishlist if they are interested. Our first set of screenshots were not ideal, and we were able to finally get a new set up during our first exposure rounds (Steam will make sure a certain amount of impressions are made). I think a gameplay video would be great as well. (Note you MUST have a trailer as well – so plan a head). The next is the build of the game itself. We forgot to set the age gate on our NSFW game (..duh), and this delayed us slightly. The review can take a little bit and so I would recommend counting on a 3-5 day review. After that you can set a proper release date once everything is confirmed. Being our first game, our timing was all over the place unfortunately.

Our Trailer – this gave us the most delays – it’s something you must have to complete a page set up.

What now?

Pen Island VR was really fun to make. A lot of stress but we are so proud to have finally made it this far. We have some plans to update Pen Island VR, and at the same time begin working on a new game! We will definitely keep you updated =)