Tuesday, October 30, 2018

BFIG and John Carmack Highlights

BFIG Highlights:

  • @turtleverse showing up at my booth before I realized the festival had begun and handing me his two votes and proceeding to play the demo.
  • Seeng two little kids who were terrible at my game and I thought were getting really frustrated and never got past the thorny vines north of the treehouse, but I never talked to them or tried to help them and they left. But like an hour later I saw one of them come back and give me her votes. 
  • Seeing a family of four who were terrible at my game and I thought they were getting really frustrated and didn't get past the thorny vines north of the treehouse, and I only talked to them once*. But like an hour later the mom came back and gave me several votes.
  • Having the 12 year old kid I used to mentor as part of Big Brother Little Brother program help me in the booth. Especially playing balloon soccer while everyone else was packing up their booths.
  • @turtleverse bringing back more of his friends to check out Flock of Dogs
  • Seeing a group of young adults play my game and thinking they had come as a friend group and then finding out they had just met each other and secretly hoping the guy would ask for the girl's number and somehow Flock of Dogs could be credited with bringing together two lovers, but I don't think it happened.
  • Chatting with the game devs next to me (makers of Hexile) and across from me (maker of Katie) and behind me (makers of Austen Translation) and down the aisle (makers of Skorcery).

*The time I helped them was because they revealed a bad design by me. They accidentally landed on the island of the thorny vines north of the treehouse. But they didn't know how they landed (holding A) and they didn't know to take off (also holding A). But once they accidentally took off again they were trapped between the thorns and the floating tetromino piece...so anyway. Bad design. I've since restructured where/when landing is taught/is possible.

Um. Yeah, who knows about the marketing value of going to events like this. But having this kind of deadline and getting to see people play my game is really cool. I could make a separate list of highlights for just being back in Boston, most of which would be playing with two of my old soccer teams and winning all my games and scoring some sweet goals and hanging out with old friends.

Anyway, I came across this quote from John Carmack. And I've bolded, italicized, and changed the text color of the part I found encouraging!:

I spent a lot of time last week at Oculus Connect giving advice to developers across the App Reviews, Start session, and hallway conversations.

Since we started, my reaction to the vast majority of mobile VR titles has been that they have fairly straightforward tactical quality and design points that have failed to be addressed.
Many of these are almost checklist things, and I have pointed a lot of them out over the various app reviews I have posted.

However, it is possible to check all the boxes and still wind up with a competently implemented game that just doesn’t have any soul.
I see a lot of games that are aimed at filling a slot — “a FPS”, “a strategy game”, “a puzzle game”, “a space game”, “a roller coaster”, and so on.
“Doing reps” with game development is an important part of growing your skill set, and generally a necessary step on the path to doing something important, but don’t be surprised when the project with all that time and effort poured into it vanishes without a trace in the market.

If you intend to do reps, plan and optimize your strategy around maximizing your experience gained while still producing something of modest value with little expectation of return. When you want to make an impact, I think the most important advice is:
Build something that at least some people LOVE.

Games are a matter of taste, which varies widely. Hitting on something that everyone thinks is fantastic is unlikely. If it turns out that you have made something that at least a few people are ecstatic about, even if lots of people think it is garbage, then you have a better kernel to grow from than something that is widely considered just ok.

For instance, I'll stand up for Daedalus and Thumper. Bait and Pet Lab aren't really to my taste, but I know people that do love them. There is definitely something there. On the other hand, there are hundreds of games on our store that have probably never gotten a single heartfelt customer recommendation.

The difference between something you use and something you love is the details, both engineering and design.

We have had some borderline-acrimonious discussions internally around “delight” — I argue that applications should be functional first, because delight doesn’t last, and often comes at the expense of efficient function. Games are different, and many can almost be viewed as essentially just a sequence of delightful interactions.

Watch your players very carefully as they play. The smile, grin, cheer, or even focused look of intensity is your signal to chase. Design inspiration may provide the initial points, but hard work iterating on it is how you hill-climb to the best version.

If you have even a few true fans, keep your project alive! VR is still very young, and most of the potential players of your game haven’t even thought about buying a headset yet. Land’s End was a great experience three years ago, and it is still a great experience today.
This is easy to screw up. I wanted to go back and add some things to the old Oculus Arcade project, but I found that it hadn’t been archived with all of the support libraries, and I wasted an afternoon trying (and failing) to get it building with current systems.

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