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Reflection of my VrJam experience after milestone 4 deadline

ricard2798ricard2798 Posts: 432
Hiro Protagonist
edited May 2015 in VR Jam 2015
So now that the dust has settled, and all submissions are in (or should be), I would like to take a time to think about my overall VRJam experience up to this point. There is nothing technical here. Some of the info might be wrong (since its my impression, not my researched comments). So anyways, lets get started:

THE GOOD:
1-This experience has made me discover things in me i didn't know i had, or could do. From someone who can't write a single line of code, I had set up to see if i could be something good with my limited skills. The result satisfies me tremendously, and i have only Oculus to thank for enticing me to push myself to new horizons.

2-The VR community is awesome! It has been a great run, and in the process i have communicated with friends that have helped me when i reached a wall i could not climb. Their feedback helped me build a better game (in fact, one persons comments made me want do an additional level just for him...). i will surely miss the camaraderie and support of all the people here... love ya tons

3-look at all this content!!! This is amazing... my gearvr will have tons of new stuff to show off.


The bad:
I am not complaining... i am just sharing things that perhaps could be improved.

1-issues with unity 5. Just like all the entrants spent sleepless night building their Vr content, oculus should have had their coders do the same thing to had a FULLY non issue version of the SDk for unity 5. Some people ended up being limited into what they could do because unity 5 integration was a hurdle.

2-issues with challenge post. i wont get into it... its not oculus fault... but this last 12 hours have been.... interesting.

3-Setting a limit on the entries that will actually see a judge. Think about it... you are denying a hard worker the chance to show off their stuff... not because their software was bad, but because you are only allowing 20% entrants through the gate! So some apps, which might truly be great, will be shot down, just because others might be better! i know this is not an issue as far as the prizes... but some of us are not necessarily after the prize... but more after the honor of saying "hey look, my app made it to round 4... so i am good!"... can you imagine how many doors it can open for a struggling developer to say, hey... the oculus top staff played and reviewed my game?!!! For some of us thats even more important than the prize (i would not mind that either, but that,s not the objective). I know that the oculus head team cant see all entries... but this is what i would have done.
I would rate the apps as good or not good. in fact, even if an app is not great, but shows great effort, it should get a chance to get seen. Its the least that you guys could do for a hard working developer. You can't judge everyone under the same scope... for example... i know there are entries made by groups and organizations that likely entered as individuals. Kind of unfair to the lonely guy that didn't sleep 2 weeks straight to build something of equal (or perhaps even greater magnitude). Again, I would have allowed anything decent (regardless of numbers) to had their chance at the limelight... and at least get the tittle of (i made it through all stages of the jam... even if i didn't win zilch). Hey, we put the time building content for you... and you put the time looking at it.

4-Even playing field. This was touch on my previous points. it sucks that entries in the single category definitely seem to be working in a group multi dev structure. unfortunately, I can;t think of a way to solve this... it juts something that kind of makes me a little sad.

5-Struggle to find testers. As the deadlines came closer... people were literally begging for testers. Of course, everyone was hard at crunching their last efforts, so i understand why there was a limited number of testers. Perhaps, for fure jams, oculus could make a pool of small prizes for people that actually test. lets say.. every time you test, you file a form which the dev will sign of as (approved). that wilkl get the tester one entry into a drawing for lets say, the new oculus... or swag, or a small monetary prize. An app is only as good as it gets tested... and helping have an available pool of testers would help us tremendously.

Anyways, I hope this helps the oculus team in the future. again, i am not complaining one bit.. just sharing my thoughts. Again, I am eternally grateful for this experience... and wish everyone good luck and success.
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Comments

  • nilstasticnilstastic Posts: 140
    Art3mis
    Thank you for posting this, It's always good to decompress after a Jam.

    Some comments.
    1. Unity 5 was indeed bad, but we all knew it going in. I upgraded my Unity 4 project mid-jam but had to painfully revert it back to Unity 4 after a week. Not happy, but it was my own fault.

    2. Multi dev teams beating the single developer. I was kind of afraid that this would make things unfair but in the end i found it quite nice to be "fighting" with multi dev teams and their fancy texture artists and whatnot. We also have the case of people starting early (we could do that) and people extending existing projects but i think that you'll need to find some sort of personal goal that you'll try to reach. I pride myself in doing the jam during the designated time-frame, and I enjoy the challenge of learning new things during that time. =)

    3. Having Oculus test everyone's game would indeed be great, and a lot of good content will be missed by the judges because of lacking descriptions and rushed videos. I do think that there should be some monitoring of the forums (this and reddit) so that the people doing the filtering could find out if they were missing something. But sadly, a lot of these apps will just be lost in the flood.

    Also, if you liked jamming - be sure to join up in the next ludum dare. It's always a blast (and only 48 hours). =)
  • ricard2798ricard2798 Posts: 432
    Hiro Protagonist
    LOL, I would join the ludlum... but i do not think my wife and kids want me going on another crazy sleepless trip like this anytime soon. Let's just say that mothers day here was a disaster i am still trying to make up for :(
  • spinaljackspinaljack Posts: 347 Oculus Start Member
    nilstastic wrote:
    I pride myself in doing the jam during the designated time-frame, and I enjoy the challenge of learning new things during that time. =)

    I like this attitude :)
    We made all our development/assets from scratch during the 4 weeks as well and really pushed to get it all in.

    Also second the Ludum Dare, the lack of a money prize doesn't reduce the amount of entries (it might even increase them as it's more of an even playing field)
  • BinoBino Posts: 112
    Hiro Protagonist
    UE4 was no cakewalk either :) I just figured it was done now as it was sponsored by Samsung and it suited their release timeframe.

    With regards to testing:
    There were a bunch of us testing regularly in the "Come help VR Jam devs test their builds!" post and providing feedback. The community really helped each other out.

    My main issue was work deciding to send me half way across the planet in the middle of the Jam. I also have to make it up to my fiancee for the late nights and skipping social activities!

    Good fun overall and a positive experience. I'll continue working on some sort of GearVR game to release.
  • Jaycee900Jaycee900 Posts: 223
    Dont worry if your a solo dev, graphics arent everything, as long as the refresh rate is fast enough and the game fun thats a bigger impression than anything else.
    Ive played a few games after the last few days that push the note 4 too hard and it kills the VR experience because of judder causing motion sickness.
    A good game is a good game, the judges will take this into consideration for sure.
    Mini Gear VR Reviews Blog --> http://gearvrreviews.blogspot.co.uk
  • ricard2798ricard2798 Posts: 432
    Hiro Protagonist
    Thanks jaycee :)

    I am not really worried in the pure sense of the word... jsut sharing some thoughts in the hope the next VR Jam is even better than this one. I truly can;t complain about anything... in fact, being able to discover that i could do this is a reward in its own. But I sure have to admit, making it to the top 20% would make wonders for my charity effort. i teach kids in public schools how to do games and VR (we started this year).
    Telling a school admin, hey, I did this and completed the jam (without winning a thing, just saying i was good enough) would open doors like crazy. you would be amazed at all the red tape needed to do a program like this. I even have a Microsoft evangelist tagging along... and its a headache to have the school boards approve software like unity! Apparently if a company updated their software every 6 months, it means its unstable :P So I have to carry 10+ computers with me every day with the software on it, in order to get the program going :)
    Anyways... that beyond the point. i love the Jam, Vr and all of you... that is all that matters :)
  • BinoBino Posts: 112
    Hiro Protagonist
    So I have to carry 10+ computers with me every day with the software on it, in order to get the program going :)

    +1 Legend
  • tlkalltlkall Posts: 63
    What i learn't is optimization is NOT a thing you do right at the end. You need to do it right at the very start. From the very first model, script, or package you add to your project you need to determine its impact, and how much optimized you can can likely make it. But if it adds too much of a load and you based your project on it for the last couple of week guess what you have no choice but to use it.
  • dignifiedwebdignifiedweb Posts: 279
    Art3mis
    Bino wrote:
    So I have to carry 10+ computers with me every day with the software on it, in order to get the program going :)

    +1 Legend


    Agreed, 10+ computers. I'm imagining some big CRT monitors and some KVM switches cables dangling. @ricard2798 I still have to try your final build, it was fun jamming with you man! Appreciate the help!

    Also, I have one complaint and I'm not a complainer! What's this markdown script business and how come the web forms don't copy line breaks from word? Am I the only one that had issues with that? Is markdown a common thing? I mean, this forum has a button for bold, but I have to read a huge document to find out that **this** does bold? A Challenge to post, amirite?
    Check out my Mobile VR Jam 2015 title Man Overboard! - Try the DK2 Version if you don't have a Gear VR
  • drashdrash Posts: 2,849
    Neo
    I definitely think a few great experiences and ideas will fall through the cracks because of the potentially-unexpected technical challenges involved in making something for Gear VR. So for those devs that ran into issues, I hope you'll continue to push on and bring your vision to fruition when you're able to.
    Also, I have one complaint and I'm not a complainer! What's this markdown script business and how come the web forms don't copy line breaks from word? Am I the only one that had issues with that? Is markdown a common thing? I mean, this forum has a button for bold, but I have to read a huge document to find out that **this** does bold? A Challenge to post, amirite?
    A challenge to post! haha! :D

    I only know about Markdown because my friend is always sending me Apple-related news via daringfireball.net, and the guy that runs that site invented Markdown to do all his posts, and it seems to have spread into a lot of the app and web ecosystem at this point. If you ever post on reddit you may have noticed it uses Markdown for formatting. Using the RES (reddit enhancement suite) means you get a live preview of what your markdown-formatted post will look like, and that's basically what I used to put together my submission description! So yeah, ChallengePost should definitely have its own live preview built-in.
  • CatrikCatrik Posts: 66
    Brain Burst
    Congrats to everyone and their hard work for this VR jam...if anyone needs testing of their game, im willing to help.

    Feel free to PM for Urgent testing
    Currently using AT&T snapdragon lollipop 5.0.1
    Blutooth Power A Moga hero controller

    Friday i will have a GS6 gear VR for future tests, if anyone needs those tested as well just PM me if you want note 4 tested or Galaxy S6 Tested.
  • ricard2798ricard2798 Posts: 432
    Hiro Protagonist
    hey dignifiedweb... I also had a blast jamming with ya all. and guys, don't worry too much about the pcs I haul to my classes... they are all laptops (some much bigger than others of course :)

    If I happen to win anything at all, I would probably change them all with surface 2 tablets... my back would thank me for that :) LOL
  • nosys70nosys70 Posts: 466
    Art3mis
    You have to understand that VRJam is just a way for oculus to find the next "Angry Bird" application that will make people
    buy a GearVR (or a CV1 when ready).
    It is a way to get ideas and work for (almost) free.
  • Jaycee900Jaycee900 Posts: 223
    Rovio are actually working on Angry Birds for the GearVR! No need to find a wannabe! Great news for the GearVR.....it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but its a massive game to make people take notice of VR.
    Mini Gear VR Reviews Blog --> http://gearvrreviews.blogspot.co.uk
  • BinaryBinary Posts: 40
    Brain Burst
    It was indeed a ride, and now ... this emptiness! :)
    The could have at least kept up the global signing tool.
  • Jaycee900Jaycee900 Posts: 223
    Binary wrote:
    The could have at least kept up the global signing tool.
    Understandable really, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for the Oculus store and there would be a flood of cardboard apps stating they are for GearVR when they probably haven't used the extra sensors etc..best to be a closed platform in some ways.
    Mini Gear VR Reviews Blog --> http://gearvrreviews.blogspot.co.uk
  • dignifiedwebdignifiedweb Posts: 279
    Art3mis
    My work here is done, I made Drash laugh. Thanks Drash, I guess I'll be good at reddit formatting now... lol
    Check out my Mobile VR Jam 2015 title Man Overboard! - Try the DK2 Version if you don't have a Gear VR
  • nilstasticnilstastic Posts: 140
    Art3mis
    Binary wrote:
    It was indeed a ride, and now ... this emptiness! :)
    The could have at least kept up the global signing tool.

    Post jam trauma? =) If it's not a thing it should be.
  • dignifiedwebdignifiedweb Posts: 279
    Art3mis
    nilstastic wrote:
    Post jam trauma? =) If it's not a thing it should be.

    Absolutely! I am still coming down for sure, got an amazing sleep last night though, wow. I was practically in a coma.

    Also, all this talk of carrying a bunch of computers around is making me think that there needs to be a Duke Nukem VR. Maybe I'll make Luke Dukem for my next share. I always wondered why he didn't use his shrink ray to miniaturize a tank or a truck and use them on his enemies and carry them around like a regular weapon. That sounds great to me! :)


    Either that! Or I should go with my original idea of Bee Keeper Simulator. Solves the screen door effect!
    Check out my Mobile VR Jam 2015 title Man Overboard! - Try the DK2 Version if you don't have a Gear VR
  • emolanoemolano Posts: 35
    The vrjam has been a great experience. I realized two main things during the vrjam.

    First, making games is so hard. Z Race was my first game. First time with Unity. So I spent many hours on this project.
    Games is also a hard market. I thought I could learn and make a living with games but now I am not so sure - It takes a lot to create a game, take a lot of time, it is expensive if you are on your own and cannot create assets so you buy them.
    I may stay with my day job :)

    Two, I love Unity and hate Unity. I used the recommended version 4.6.3, it worked fine for Z Race. In my dream land I wanted to submit 2 games :) - 12 hours before the deadline, I was working in my second game and got the black screen in the Note 4. I tried for 4 hours and could not make it work. At the end I could not create an apk for my second game. I hate Unity. On the other hand using plugins and assets from the asset store make your life easier (but at the end you end up with the same assets so your game looks like many other games)
    What i learn't is optimization is NOT a thing you do right at the end.
    I will add to that, do not test on Gear VR at the end.
    This was my big mistake. I developed on windows making sure to have 50 draw calls and 50k triangles. Did all testing without oculus. Then at the end I used oculus on windows and realized I needed to change some things.
    On top of that when I tested it on Gear VR I saw more things to be changed. Performance was bad. My zombie game is fun with 30 zombies at the same time but in GearVR I can only use 7 because they use a lot of resources.
  • Thank you, all VR colleagues for your AWESOME increddible work on VR jam 2015. Really awesome experience !!! :ugeek:
    Maxim Miheyenko,
    VR Production.

    House of Languages: viewtopic.php?f=77&t=22268&start=40
    xlarge.png
  • RazTOORazTOO Posts: 128
    emolano wrote:
    What i learn't is optimization is NOT a thing you do right at the end.
    I will add to that, do not test on Gear VR at the end.
    This was my big mistake. I developed on windows making sure to have 50 draw calls and 50k triangles. Did all testing without oculus. Then at the end I used oculus on windows and realized I needed to change some things.

    Let me add something more here too :) We had a problem with Unity5 tagging system. Our code was working fine on PC, but when we ran it under GearVR it didn't worked... so instead of adding some more fun stuff which was totally ready to put into the game, we had to manually change many lines of code and... made it in the last minute. A big THX to SPINALJACK here and other collegues :D So many talented and awesome people here.

    We've learned a lot during this Jam and are happy we could participate and achieve our goals.
  • branditosonbranditoson Posts: 60
    Binary wrote:
    It was indeed a ride, and now ... this emptiness! :)
    The could have at least kept up the global signing tool.

    Due to popular demand, we brought back up the signing tool and will keep it live until the end of the community voting period. We will post info about this in a broad update soon.

    To be clear, you cannot update your submission, but you may share new build link iterations with the community in the comments on your site (or here on the forums) in case you want to leverage the community voting period for playtest feedback and iteration.
  • branditosonbranditoson Posts: 60
    Also, thanks all for the feedback! We'll send out a survey after the dust settles to collect this info more broadly. :)
  • rjmig88rjmig88 Posts: 83
    I had a few learning experiences along the way. The first couple of weeks I was having to deal with Unity 5/Exynos bugs like the left eye rendering differently, texture leaking/flopping, and ZWrite Off not working on Unity 5. I started the tech early and even so those issues ate into a week of game jam time.

    I wished I tested on more platforms and bought a Snapdragon version of the phone. I had ordered the Exynos version by mistake as I had to buy out of contract on my cell phone plan. I've been getting some reports that my keybindings aren't working on the Snapdragon phone which is quite disappointing since I outsourced InControl for gamepad input and didn't think about buying a bunch of gamepads and doing a test matrix of device compatibility.

    I'm glad I spent so much time optimizing for the GearVR. That was my hugest shock. Pretty much every day required optimizations with my level designer and it was non stop. Our entire game renders in 20 draw calls and stays under 100k polys and manages to keep a constant 60 fps. Doing an open world game was a huge challenge even optimizing it from the start. We had to make some tradeoffs as we couldn't have more than 5-6 reasonable quality skinned meshes on screen. We had to be aggressive with culling of skinned mesh objects. I have a few ideas on how to get 20-30 on screen which I'll explore more.

    The gameplay went really well. At least for me the head tracking targeting feels really natural. My goal was to improve the ranged combat of Herobound and I feel like I've accomplished that. I'm excited to push the VR RPG experience forward.

    The game jam shows me that I want to keep continuing developing Awakening full time and get it to an awesome state on GearVR and DK2 and Crescent Bay ASAP. :) I want to give you guys a lot more than just a single awesome dragon fight!
  • berlin3dberlin3d Posts: 59
    Best thing I take from the jam is that i have the feeling I extended my skills in coding and using libs i always wanted to give a try (like the awsome RAIN for AI eg.)
    Optimizing draw calls while keeping a high visual quality took really more time than I thought in the beginning. But I learned so much in in this area too because there was this strict barrier of 100 draw calls. In the End I think it was a good thing because you had to try different techniques or even build your level in a special which way gave me a better understanding of what costs performance. I'm sure this will help me while adding new features to S.P.Y. Robot and for all future projects.
    CEOs Pet Software
    www.ceospet.com | @ceospet
  • creat326creat326 Posts: 84
    Well, well... I actually had a blast not sleeping for almost 2 weeks straight. I've been developing since I was a kid and I love when something gets me hyped up to this level at my age!

    Some comments on the original post:
    1) Team vs Individuals. Yeah I think this was not fair but it's also difficult to control. For instance, I joined the Jam as a company due to pure legal issues because the Unity assets I bought and much of my code is owned by the company. BUT, it's only me. I'm the CEO/Developer/Designer/3D Artist/Kitchen Cleaner/Laundry Picker/Ironing Master/Dog Walker. So it is hard to limit team vs individuals because you just don't know who is truly behind the scenes.

    2) Learn to leverage outside resources. Also you can say something like don't reinvent the wheel. You see... my game is a multiplayer flight simulator (check my signature). It has terrain, lakes, 30 airplanes, tanks, soldiers, zeppelins, clouds, snow, rain, sun, night time and connects to a cloud system that runs in 4 continents when you play on multiplayer.
    As I said before, it's only me doing it all. So 1 month, 1 man, all of that. I had to really focus on purchasing things from Unity asset store that would speed up the whole process. So I spent considerable time before the VRJam even began to check everything available, calculating costs and putting things together to hit the floor running.

    3) Pick the right technology and test it before beginning the jam. This was probably my biggest mistake. I used Unity 5 which I'm very familiar with as a betatester and it's a product that I love... but... I had no idea that the integration with Gear VR was still so buggy. I probably wasted almost 2 weeks just working around bugs. Some got fixed on a Unity patch and some by the new Oculus SDK. But I watched how many projects using Unity 4.6 were moving along just fine!
    I think this was great for Unity because they've must gotten tons of bug reports and the next 5.x will have so many fixes (and trust me, the next Unity update should be awesome thanks to this!). But many of us were stuck for days trying to figure out how to move on or just rolling back.

    4) Do it for love but don't lose sight of the cost. This is not mentioned but getting into the VrJam is expensive. Not only the devices are expensive but also working non-stop for a month reduces your probably of work for anything else... and your chances of getting a prize are small. So really really think what's our budget for this. My takeaway is that you have to do it for the love of just doing it. I picked up a project that I'm crazy passionate about, that I work on it even if there is not VrJam going on and I just personally have a blast developing.

    5) Don't forget to check my project :) I hope you like it and forgive my horrible English O:) http://challengepost.com/software/dogfight-elite-vr
  • BinaryBinary Posts: 40
    Brain Burst
    Though i entered as individual and worked alone, i'd like to defend the teams a bit at the point of fairness.

    For every hat you cant or wont wear yourself you could by cheap or use even free resources. You could have even easily teamed up yourself, here or on challenge post. There where reasons you didn't. Beyond that, you can make a exciting game with simple design and exciting game play. The jam submissions are proof enough.
    Working in a team has its own challenges, probably many entries didn't make it for social reasons. Tough teams are able to deliver more polished and more unique, if they have designer, the judges are industry veterans who look beyond that. ( so i hope ;) )
  • MimicryGamesMimicryGames Posts: 40 Oculus Start Member
    Ricard and others, thanks so much for sharing your experience. :ugeek: I think it's important to reflect and learn from each other.

    I also decided to write up a jam postmortem on my devlog that I wanted to share with you guys, here is the direct link to the post: http://mimicryvr.tumblr.com/post/119090873459/vrjam-postmortem-reflecting-on-the-jam-process
    Creator of Ganbatte, a competitive social multiplayer arcade game for VR, about cats, in space, eating sushi.

    Follow our journey as we bring this game to the Oculus store:
    Check out the Ganbatte dev blog
    Follow Mimicry on Twitter
  • nilstasticnilstastic Posts: 140
    Art3mis
    Ricard and others, thanks so much for sharing your experience. :ugeek: I think it's important to reflect and learn from each other.

    I also decided to write up a jam postmortem on my devlog that I wanted to share with you guys, here is the direct link to the post: http://mimicryvr.tumblr.com/post/119090873459/vrjam-postmortem-reflecting-on-the-jam-process

    A great read, thanks!
    You should think about creating a postmortem(s) thread, I'd be happy to add mine. :)
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