Devlog: The Annoying Apple, Week #0

Today I just want to start a new category of blog posts: my devlog. I’ll keep you updated about a little project I’m doing and describe you the challenges I’m facing. It’s just an experiment that I’m doing for a month or so… you (my lovely readers) will tell me if you like this and find it useful or not. (Let me know in the comments, please!)

My friend Max Ariani and me have decided to create a little game in VR. Reason is currently we’re not busy 100% of the time and we want to do something together, to stress test our team while having fun. Yes, we’ve already done Hit Motion, but that was just a protoype to showcase our ImmotionRoom system… now we want to do a super-little but complete VR game. This is in my opinion how things should be made: years ago I read a super-interesting post about how “finishing things” is one of the most important qualities for an indie game developer. And I agree: I’ve spent too many days trying to realize some super-cool dream game that was too ambitious to be realized: I’ve a bazillion of half-finished or just-started games and now I’ve learnt the lesson.

Start small, but finish things. Always.

So, we want to do a little game, with the awesome team composed of only us two (a developer and a game designer) and with the amazing feature of having a super-little budget. But I’m confident we’ll go through this and we’ll create our little masterpiece.

First question that arises when you have this idea is: “Ok, but what game can we do?”. We have these requirements:

  • The game must be simple, so that it can be finished in one month or such;
  • The game must be cheap, so no heavy graphics… we’ll just use cubes or Unity Asset Store stuff;
  • The game must be a little original, so not the same zombie waves shooter (come on, there are 50000 of them out there!);
  • The game must not be testosterone-oriented, we want it to be ok for women too.

Max came with this idea of using fruit, because it is so natural and easy to be modeled. I came with the idea of using colors in a brain-training way, as I did in the first game that I made for Windows Phone 7, The Annoying Clicking, so we agreed on making a game with fruit and color-based mechanics. I dediced to give it the temporary name of The Annoying Apple. Max wanted also to add some metcha-fighting stuff, but very democratically I dediced to censor this part of the game 🙂 …

Ok, now that we had a vague idea of what we wanted to do… well, what could we do? Exactly… prototyping, prototyping, prototyping. Unless you want to do a standard game like Tetris, the first thing you have to do is to test the mechanics of the game and see if they have sense. Please please please if you want to develop any kind of experience, make a quick and dirty prototype first, make the most experiments possible… and then start a real project from scratch when you think that the prototype game you’ve made makes sense!

So Max has started assembly some Asset Store stuff and came to me with a super badass PC game when you use a Dredd-like-gun to fire missiles against pears! Wow! Shooting at pears has never been so satisfying!

VR devlog The Annoying Apple
Damn Pear, the Dredd justice department has decided that you’re condemned to death by missile!

The prototype was cool, but not that useful, because of course we want to do a VR game, where you hold your color-guns in your hands. So today I’ve started prototyping the real game: the player has two color guns in his/her hands and has to shoot at fruits. The fruits grow and if you don’t shoot them in time or if you shoot them with the wrong color, you’ve lost.

VR devlog The Annoying Apple
Holding two coloured guns with Touch Controllers. Lasers are necessary, otherwise taking aim is really hard

The game was nice… but… shooting with Oculus Touch is not really precise. The reason is: Oculus Touch are very light, so when you press the index trigger, the hand rotates a bit to accomodate this movement and this makes you shoot askewly. So, either you make a relaxed game where you just have to aim taking your hand straight… or you make a frenetic game where you don’t have to be super-precise in taking aim. The game also showed other issues. It wasn’t funny enough… furthermore it had no sense for VR. I mean, if you make a VR game, it has to exploit the technology, there must be a reason for you to feel really there… while this seemed just a standard PC game.

You have not to stick to the original idea: often it is wrong. So Max proposed to try something more… melée.

I tried to implement almost the same game, but with objects coming next to me. With two coloured clubs in my hands I had to smash them… and the results are pretty promising! Yes, it sounds a bit like a Hit Motion 2… but it works. There’s no problem of aiming… and having objects coming next to me makes the game ideal for VR, since you can’t feel the same sensation of enemies approaching you on a flat screen.

VR devlog The Annoying Apple
They’re just very simple forms made in Unity, but you can appreciate the tall enemy that is coming to kill me in the obscurity

Now that the prototype v1 seems to be enjoyable, we’ll have to make a prototype v2 to understand how to make the game funny. I’ll keep you updated! In the meantime, any suggestions for The Annoying Apple is really welcome! Cheers!

Skarredghost

AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I've still not waken up...

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