Notes for VR Game developers: Crazy Fishing

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.

Hands we ended up using for VR

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.

No more UI.

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!


VR Game developers…. if you ever make a tutorial, make it amazing.

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

A save state which can store everything in it (and is the same when you come back!)

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.


Moving From Games to AI

I’ve felt I’ve learnt a lot of programming from Crazy Fishing (VR), Pen Island (VR) and Scramble 7 (iOS & Android) and I want to progreinto Artificial Intelligence (particularly Computer Vision and Machine Learning). I’ve learnt a lot of programming and Managing teams & VR Gaming studios – and those lessons I can’t forget. 

vr gaming crazy fishing vr

VR Gaming as a Business

I think VR gaming will always be around, but the market is certainly not ready yet for a sustainable VR gaming studio, and it’s a damn hard industry to make it big on the mobile. Instead, I feel it’s better to start with something you genuinely love – your little pet game, such as QuiVR (a game that started as a project and grew to this! Stardew Valley was a game made by a programmer to improve his CV and ended up becoming a hit sensation! Undertale – a game that was made by Toby Fox which was made over years in his own time, before it had a successful Kickstarter. These games weren’t made for the money, instead they were made for themselves, but grew to hit sensations.

Out of all the games I’ve been apart of, Crazy Fishing has evolved to a game I enjoy. I can show friends, and I’ve learnt ALOT about virtual reality as a whole. I will write a post about the things we changed and what we discovered after we take Crazy Fishing out of Early Access (which surprisingly wont be too long from now).

Crazy Fishing screenshot

Gaming as a Side Business while working on AI/ML

I’ve been working doing dentistry and surgery during the day, and programming and working on games at night. Instead of doing only games, I’m going to start getting into AI as I think it’s an exciting field and could be a a huge thing in the future. The thought of a what is possible is fucking exciting (excuse my language) and can’t wait to be apart of it.

I won’t quit making games, but I won’t expect them to go big either. I believe the VR gaming market (At the moment) is not ready, but still highly interests me. The platform hasn’t even gone to its full potential, but the limitations with a small team or without a ridiculous budget are highly restricting.

Way forward:

  • I’m going to start learning Machine Learning and Python (I knew a bit, but now go full throttle) with courses I’ll list soon.
  • Working on at my surgery and teeth.
  • Managing some game projects with an active but not so active role (Got to keep the gaming programming skills up!)
  • Mastering computer vision.

Hope you will enjoy the ride to come, it’s going to be an exciting future!

Some Quick Shout Outs:

I’ve also met some amazing people, and some of the Freelancers I do want to shout out such as – Jun (super talented with logos and 2D work) and Dion (an amazing 3D artists).

Releasing VR Game Crazy Fishing

Unexpectedly, I was able to team up with an awesome developing studio, Offpeak Games, who made Valiant and Arcane for VR on Steam. We all got together and started brainstorming about a possible VR game. We came up with project: Crazy Fishing.

Crazy Fishing

This project started slowly. Both studios had other stuff to manage and it was more of something we worked on in our free times and just chipped at ideas slowly. A few months later, we are finally going into it and the game is getting some amazing reception.

We were able to get onto Reddit Front Page thanks to a poster linking us into the gaminig subreddit, and some other videos we have made had really good responses (here and here).

What we have learnt so far?

Our Crazy Fishing Game has taught me one thing for sure – it’s nice to work on a game that doesn’t involve wave based shooting. I think I’ve just seen too many lately, and it’s a great change of pace.

  1. Reddit is a great community – we want to be more involved and have started to really look at all the different avenues we can without spamming too much.
  2. Keep on top of emails – making sure we write down all the stuff testers want and keeping track of their ideas in the game. Some of them have been absolutely fantastic and I think we got to put them in the game somewhere!
  3. Using the lessons I learnt from Pen Island VR to mange things better. I think the game was too crude and Crazy Fishing shows a good balance of humor while implementing a good fun mechanic.
  4. Google forms are amazing.
  5. Really spell things out to people if in doubt – not everyone will understand what an Alpha testing game is, let alone how the game is played. Let them know – they will appreciate that better.
  6. Mail Chimp is good (but I might have to consider something to mange the testers).
  7. Steam have been great, and Chet has been super helpful with starting our Steam stuff going!
  8. Don’t look like a marketing company – people hate it. Although we are simply posting about our stuff, we are slowly slipping from being ‘indie’. 
Crazy Fishing

When your tablet breaks in Crazy Fishing.

Current State of the Crazy FishingGame:

We are currently working with our Alpha testers (you can sign up here as we slowly send the keys out), to figure out the core part of the game mechanic. The aim is to replicate fishing, but also make fishing FUN. Also…we don’t have enough Crazy in the game. Seriously, not enough at all. We need it to be an insane fishing game.

What is next for Crazy Fishing?

  1. More freaking crazy.
  2. Less bugs, more actual bugs in the game ideally.
  3. More art works, and a good explanation to the community!

Hope to update you guys more soon!


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 =)