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  • Making Our First Indie Game After University

    - Lorcan Mc Garry Hunt
  • Lorcan here - the 50% of Birdmask that is programming and 3D art. Having just launched our first game Wats! Vr Pest Control onto the store, there is finally a bit of time, so I thought I would do a write-up to share our experience, as a 2 person startup, of getting a game developed, published and on the Gear marketplace.

    Wats began development about ten months ago. I had just completed a BA in Computer Games Arts at UCA, Farnham, and been offered a place on an incubator program that supports post- grads releasing their first game, in exchange for some hours each week as a teaching assistant

    Jo had completed a fine art degree at CSM, and having used game engine technology as part of her degree-show, she was keen to collaborate on a project. Initially her involvement was as a casual consultant, but as I hit problems with design and scope, she stepped in to a full designer role, as well as handling all the online and launching stuff.

    It's funny, Mac was all the way there back in stress testing, not in the final game though.?

    As a student I had worked with the HTC Vive and, by chance, around this time mobile VR, like the Gear and Daydream, were just getting motion controller support. I was interested in the possibilities of mobile VR, plus being lower in price and more convenient to use I thought they had the potential for a bigger audience than their PC counterparts.

    As I had to replace my very tired iPhone anyway, I decided to invest in a Gear VR headset and a Samsung phone. While I knew developing a game for relatively new tech would involve some extra difficulty in development, I had high hopes it would payoff as being a good way to get some extra visibility for a new studio in a emerging marketplace.

    Room Attack

    After some initial stress testing to see what the Gear could handle I started developing the first iteration of Wats, then called Room Attack.

    It was a month or two into this when we faced our first roadblock as a new developer team. The idea seemed simple enough - a kind of Home Alone style game. You had your room and got points for breaking things and scoring combos. Each time you break stuff, you make noise. Too much noise and the owner runs in - game over! Like I said - sounds simple!

    But it wasn't long before problems began to appear. While I could code each individual system for the game, actually putting all those systems into one functioning and publishable package, that worked together, was just too much for a first release (with one multitasking programmer). You really can't go too simple for your first game, and even if you can code something, doesn't mean you'll be able to make it work in the wild.


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