Crazy Fishing out of Early Access: Notes for VR Game Developers.
We released Crazy Fishing out of Early Access a few days ago, and it was great to reflect on the drastic things we changed to adapt to VR. I’m hoping these notes will help any other VR Game developers thinking of entering the VR Gaming space.
Hands, Hands, Hands.
This is, not surprisingly, a huge issue. You need to make sure the hands are in the right position, and should be reactive to how the ‘player’ expects for it to work. For example, if I grab something in the world, both the animations and the timing should be precise. We had numerous discussions about this, and even the Superhot VR guys (who also got out on VR) got numerous hot fixes for the hands. The player sees this EVERYWHERE, so make sure the hands are working as any player expects it to be.
Mechanics – Don’t break immersion.
We went through a whirlwind of changing mechanics. When we first made the game, players weren’t drawn into a basic fishing game. You could catch fish fast, cast, reel and repeat. The problem was we started making it too easy, and we jumped up the difficulty by introducing a meter mechanic. But this was our biggest issue – we traded off immersion. Placing a giant meter on the rod is very immersive breaking – and this was something you have to take into consideration for VR. Instead of looking at the rod, or the fish in the water, the player would stare at the meter.
What we ended up doing? Getting rid of the meter and making it haptic orientated. When the rod shakes, you know its going to break soon. This is also assisted with the rod bending and the more it bent, the more vibrations the controller produced. So VR game developers – if you aren’t sure, don’t put UI in unless it is part of the ‘world’ you created!
Tutorials are tricky. Some VR Players are veterans, and a majority of them won’t need a tutorial – they will find out on their own. A majority of the teaching will be to new players and a tutorial is always advisable. You will be surprised, the action of fishing is actually very difficult to communicate. We settled with a button for those who are unsure to run the tutorial and it would lock them into certain actions. I think a more beneficial tutorial for future games would be one which uses things that people expect. For example, when you spawn a rock – the player will learn to pick it up and throw it. In VR, you have no references, and that’s the difficulty of it. Let the player learn but not feel like they are locked into it – and the less UI / words you can use – the better.
A World of their Own
I think the most important thing we implemented and learnt was the house. In this house we put leader boards, achievements, picture frames and a way to ‘visualise’ your progress. The Aquarium was something our players liked the most. You could see the fish inside your fish tank for every one you caught, and a large board which shows you how many of each one. The score board was another touch which added to replay-ability.
I plan to do a few more things and hope to create some lessons for VR Game developers. Topics, I’ve been asked to discuss are marketing and a post mortem, which I plan to do. There are also a few more other lessons, but I think that’s best discussed in a later topic once the game has been out of release for a month with the post mortem.