Starting the Steam Submission Process!

I’m excited to report that my Steamworks Developer account has been approved and I’m currently going through the process of submitting the shooter game, which is now titled Toy Gun Office Simulator, to Steam! Here’s a taste of the game’s description:

Toy Gun Office Simulator is an action VR shooter where you test your mettle in four unique, atmospheric levels. Improve your sharpshooter abilities and survive as many waves of targets as your can!

I’d like to have Toy Gun Office Simulator released by the end of August — which nearly meets the “have one game self-published within a year” goal I had about a year ago when I setup Wanana, LLC.

SHMUP Level

SHMUP UFO

I’ve been working on a SHMUP-style space level for the game. In it waves of targets move towards and past where the player’s standing. I was a bit concerned with motion sickness but since we’re doing this whole “augmented office” look-and-feel — having the persistent office scene that the game’s overlaid on seems to ground the player well and prevents them from getting sick.

SHMUP Boss

The level also has these boss waves that breakup game play and provides another challenge for the player to conquer. I’m pretty excited to have some folks play test this one!

It’s Getting There

Shooting Neon Skeletons

As of this afternoon the skeleton level is done! Or at least done enough for folks to start play testing it. I’m a bit of a fraidy cat so it’s been a little stressful building this level where you really have to keep your head on a swivel. Overall I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. Above is a GIF of how things are currently looking.

I’m working on a space shooter level next. A lot of its components should already be built out from when I was prototyping things so hopefully finishing that level will mostly consist of putting a bunch of pre-existing pieces together.

New Look And Feel

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on the game’s look-and-feel, menus, and target practice level. I feel like the game’s come quite a long way and will hopefully be in beta soon.

These screenshots don’t really do the colors justice. It’s a neon nightmare with a VR Headset on. I’m going for a low-poly, early video game aesthetic to the AR layer of the game so I’m really happy with how gross and retro it is.

A Bunch of Prototypes

Over the last couple of months I’ve been busy prototyping several shooting levels for a potential VR Game. They’re all extremely rough but I’m quite happy with most of them and am planning on expanding them into a full-on, actual game. Some of my favorite prototypes are a whack-a-mole style shooter, dodging asteroids as you’re shooting them apart, and defending against waves of humanoid attackers.

As you can see in the screenshots, the prototypes all take place within an office environment. I like the idea of a video game existing within augmented reality, with your co-workers unaware of what you’re actually doing, so I think that’s the direction I’ll be going in for now.

This office/AR concept also lends itself to a lot of interesting juxtapositioning of things. Like deers grazing beside a water cooler, vikings attacking around a conference table, or space ships flying past the building’s receptionist.

Adopting Virtual Reality

Over the last year or so I’ve become increasingly interested in virtual reality. I suppose it started when I saw Warren Spector’s keynote and attended a few of the VR sessions at 2016’s East Coast Game Conference. Before then I was intrigued by VR but didn’t care about investing time or money into it.

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Once ECGC gave me the VR bug, I started by messing around with a couple different version of Google Cardboard with their Google VR SKD for Unity. The View-Master Virtual Reality headset is the nicest of the ones I own, although the official Google Cardboard viewer does has its charm too, and is among the least expensive to acquire. During this period I had worked up a couple different game prototypes to explore what what possible as a developer. I think the most successful was a reticle based maze prototype.

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It seemed like mobile devices are the best entry point for most people to adopt VR (almost every modern phone has the appropriate hardware after all) so I purchased a Gear VR, Samsung Galaxy S7, and a SteelSeries Stratus XL controller to expand what I could experiment with. Out of the games that are available I think Land’s End, Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games, and Dark Days were among the most enjoyable to play. At this point I had started developing a reticle-based point & click adventure game. I had actually written almost the entire script for the game but unfortunately my ability to create 3D assets is a bit limited so this project has been on hold until I can spend more time myself or find a 3D artist to work with.

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Back around November 2016 I purchased an HTC Vive and last month I added an Oculus Rift to my collection. I’ve been working on a VR game that I’d like to release on SteamVR and was surprised by how the different styles of trackers affect gameplay. With the Oculus Rift and PlaystationVR, the tracking sensors are facing the user from one direction so its very easy to have a sensor loose sight of a controller by being blocked by the user’s body. This makes any game where the user can move and turn in 3D space impractical. You pretty much have to be physically facing a specific direction in the real world for it to work well.

It’s been interesting to see what each platform does well and leaves to be desired. Interestingly the cardboard or Gear VR platforms are the easiest to look around in since they don’t require a cable for their headsets. Out of all of the platforms I’ve tried the HTC Vive is my favorite. It very rarely looses track of the headset or controllers and has a simpler controller that feels natural and provides just the right amount of buttons to interact with.

Hello World

I really enjoy making games so I setup Wanana, LLC to start publishing them under. For the last decade or so I’ve worked on various game projects, mostly as a hobbyist with friends, and am really excited about this endeavor. A few VR games are in the works and the goal is to have one self-published within the year.

Stay tuned!