Posts

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 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.

2

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.

4

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBT7L8HUKyQ

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 =)