About a year ago, I released my game Nightcrawler VR Bowling on Steam. It was shortly before Steam got rid of their Greenlight program, and VR games had the privilege of skipping the voting process because Steam was looking to get more VR games on their platform. Your first VR experience won’t be perfect, but with these tips you can have a smoother start and learn a little bit faster.
Putting a game on Steam was something that was on my bucket list, so by no means do I insist that step is necessary, but it does help to learn how the process works and what sorts of information game developers have access to. I do plan on releasing a more impressive game on Steam eventually, but for the immediate future I’m making Nightcrawler VR Bowling free, so anybody can try it out if they want to.
I learned a lot from making this game, and wanted to share some of the pitfalls and strategies and helped me make Nightcrawler VR Bowling a reality.
Take a simple 3D game and convert it to VR before starting.
Use a game engine that already has VR kits and input utilities, and test them out
This one may seem obvious, but especially if you haven’t made any other games previously you may not know about these tools. Unity has a TON of great VR kits and input utilities to get you started, which include examples for you to play around with. Make sure you open those examples in your VR headset and try them out before getting started on your game.
Keep your controls and interactions simple.
Your first VR game is not going to blow anyone’s mind (unless they’ve never put a VR headset on before). The best way to gain experience and not to give up halfway is to make a simulator game. In my case, I decided to simulate a game of bowling. It’s easy to get super excited about VR and come up with a pie-in-the-sky idea but you will almost certainly either become too intimidated and give up altogether or end up settling for something that you’re not at all satisfied with. If a simulator seems boring, try to think of how you might put a twist on it. In my case, I created a surreal environment for the bowling experience. You will be much happier with yourself and your game if you actually attain the goals you set.
Get comfortable inside the VR environment
You will be playtesting your game a lot. If you’re not sick of playtesting by the time your game is finished you’re doing something wrong. There is no such thing as too much playtesting. That being said, you should get comfortable inside the VR environment before you start playtesting, because some things will feel unnatural at first just by virtue of being in VR. It also helps to get other people that have played in VR to play your game, but obviously you cannot ask your friends to play your game hundreds of times. Yes, you will probably end up playing your own game hundreds of times. After all, every time you make a change, you gotta put that headset on and check and make sure the game is working like it’s supposed to. Make sure your headset fits or you will have one hell of a headache by the time you’re done!
Take inspiration from what’s out there
This tip should be taken with the “keep it simple, stupid” principle in mind. You might be inspired by VR games which were made by a team of professionals. That is cool, but you are not going to make that game (if you do, please message me and I will send you cookies). There are tons of awesome VR simulator games and other games that might sound simple or even boring but are actually tons of fun to play. Taking a look at other games will also help you see what is (and isn’t) possible.
Okay, that’s all the tips I’ve got for now! Another thing you can try is joining a game jam, something I write about in this post here. Think I left anything out? Got some other VR related wisdom you want to share? Be sure to add your own tips or questions in the comments, or tweet at me @nadyaprimak.