• The VR Frontier
    When the Oculus Rift first launched its Kickstarter campaign, it set off a wave of hype that still hasn’t died down. VR is an easy sell. It’s so easy to imagine how cool it could be! “Step into the game” was Oculus’s Kickstarter tagline, and it reflects a common first reaction. Imagine Call of Duty, but you’re actually on the battlefield! Imagine walking around the province of Skyrim! And imagine what it will be like once we have haptic gloves!...
  • Darknet is Done! (Mostly)
    After just over a year of frantic development, I’m proud to say that Darknet is complete! I’ve locked down the features, polished it, and uploaded it to the store for launch. It won’t actually be released to players until the Gear VR is out, but my part is finished.
    Except, I’m not really done, of course. They say that works of art are never finished, only abandoned, and in my case, I’m not even close to abandoning it. I...
  • The Role of Story in Darknet
    Story has always been a challenge for me, as evidenced by my many other posts on the subject. I’m more of a formalist, gameplay-oriented designer, and Darknet reflects that. However, it was clear from the very beginning that one of Darknet’s strengths was its narrative premise (i.e. the cyberpunk hacking fantasy), in part due to the novelty of playing in virtual reality. I had kept story to a minimum in my initial designs, but over time, the lack of story...
  • Rescued by a Centaur
    Darknet is the most ambitious project I’ve ever started, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the course of production. One of the biggest mistakes (so far) was that I waited far too long to begin intensive playtesting. The conventional wisdom is that you should get other people to start playing your game as soon as possible, and although I fully intended to take that advice when I began, it quickly fell off my radar. I was so focused on...
  • Optimizing Darknet
    A Gear VR game needs to run:
    1) at 1440p
    2) in stereoscopic 3D
    3) at a consistent 60 frames-per-second
    4) on a cell phone.
    That’s hard , even for a graphically simple game like Darknet. When I first heard about Gear VR, Darknet was only barely pulling 60fps on a PC, and I was downright scared of the optimization challenge. Still, Oculus had shown me demos that proved the potential of mobile VR, and I knew that Darknet...
  • Free Launch
    At Oculus Connect, it was announced that Samsung’s Gear VR would be launching without a payment system in its app store. It’s just not ready to handle real cash yet. I haven’t spoken with many other developers, but my understanding is that, with no way to earn money, most Gear VR devs will be releasing a free demo or “lite” version, or else delaying the launch of their game entirely.
    I’ve decided to try out a different strategy: The...
  • Darknet's Dream Team
    I tend to talk about Darknet as if it were a one-man project, but that’s not really the truth. I do the design and programming myself, but I’ve gotten a ton of help from a small group of extraordinarily talented contractors and collaborators. Every one of them has made the game substantially better, and it’s high time that I introduced them all:
    Also known by the awesome moniker of Dormilón , Alfredo is the man...
  • Accessibility
    A few years ago, I released my first commercial indie game: an extremely-simplified RTS game called Auralux . My design goal for Auralux was to take the joy I felt in playing games like Command and Conquer or Starcraft and boil it down to its most essential components, and I think I succeeded, more or less. Auralux was eventually ported to mobile, where hundreds of thousands of new players encountered the game for the first time. I don’t have any...
  • The Gender Gap in VR
    During the Q&A section of the Oculus Connect keynote panel, a woman stepped up to the microphone and asked a question :
    “What is Oculus’s approach to their clear gender gap and how you’re gonna not port that into VR?”
    Palmer Luckey answered first, acknowledging that the gender gap existed and attributing it to the wider gender gap in the tech industry. He essentially said that, although Oculus doesn’t discriminate among applicants, not many women applied to attend...
  • Darknet at Oculus Connect
    I just got back from Oculus Connect, and I can report that Oculus did an incredible job with their first conference. There was new hardware to try out, lots of interesting and useful talks, and tons of virtual reality demos cramming the halls. It was pretty much VR heaven.
    Unlike PAX or the various demo events I’ve attended, I wasn’t an exhibitor at Connect, and it was nice to relax and just be part of the audience for once....
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