• Advice for New Gear VR Developers
    [This article originally appeared as a guest post on Road to VR]
    For the past year, I’ve been developing a game called Darknet, which just launched on Samsung’s Gear VR headset. That doesn’t make me an expert on mobile VR by any means, but I’ve learned some lessons over the course of development. Now that the Gear VR is out in the wild, I thought I should share them with other devs who might be thinking about joining in...
  • Darknet Launched
    After over a year of development , Darknet has finally been released! The Gear VR is now up for sale , and you should be able to download the game right away. Until the payment system for the VR app store is ready, you can download the full version of Darknet for free .
    This is by far the biggest project I’ve ever started, and although I can’t yet say that I’m finished with it, this is obviously a...
  • Video: Darknet Overview
    A short tour of the Gear VR version of Darknet:
  • Worms and the Data View
    While I wait for the Gear VR to launch (and Darknet with it), I thought it might be fun to talk in greater depth about two of the more complex and opaque aspects of Darknet’s gameplay: “worms” and the “data view”. These are both advanced, unlockable mechanics that the player can use to great effect, but the game doesn’t explain how they work or what the player ought to do with them. I’m hoping that they’ll be the subject of...
  • 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...
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