The first month running a persistent virtual reality world on SpatialOS

Thank you to everyone that tried out Community Garden. My main goal with this release to Steam Early Access wasn’t to release a final product but to get something real in front of players right now. SpatialOS has not been easy to work so gathering real world data is important. The result, I felt was very positive. So many people have downloaded and tried out Community Garden. There has been some good discussion on the Steam Discussion Forums. I even had a chance to meet people in world and discuss the future of Community Garden. I was able to fix a number of bugs as well. The following is the top feedback I received.

Top Feedback

  • Add community goals for all players to work towards.
  • Fix physic lag issue when throwing items.
  • Make the world bigger.
  • Handle player bad behavior issues.

The lag issue when throwing is definitely an issue that will need to be addressed. It breaks immersion and can be frustrating. Bad player behavior also has a potential to be a big problem. Right now players can spam seed box creation and throw items outside the reach of other players. This will take some thought to fix but right now it’s not a priority because the world needs to grow and become more interesting before worrying about what players will do with it.

The next steps for Community Garden is to add community goals and to scale the world using procedural generation. This will give players more to do and keep them in world longer. I will post some more on this later.

Community Garden Alpha Release

Community Garden is getting an Alpha release. This is an early build of the game that you can sign up for by going to the Community Garden site and signing up. My goal is to get people in world testing both the social and simulation aspects of the game. I’m hoping that by getting people interested in a virtual reality game running on Improbable’s SpatialOS, Improbable will be interested in supporting VR once again.

Blog Post: https://www.communitygardenvr.com/blog/2017/9/3/cbrh8l5w2ggso2secl3p0uzbp5ntcy

My Personal Status Working on MetaWorld

Last year, I began the journey to create MetaWorld. Being one of the first developers to use SpatialOS and being the first using it for virtual reality was a huge challenge. Documentation was sparse and Improbable was tied up growing their company. After a 3-4 months we had something to show to the world. The response was good, people who tried MetaWorld really connected with the world.

Unfortunately, after the press showing, I ran into a number of issues with SpatialOS due to required version upgrades and bugs with SpatialOS itself. Improbable was busy with other things so they were unable to help. I slowly worked through some of the problems but progress was slow. I started to feel that making a massive VR experience wasn’t going to be possible. At our current trajectory it would just take too long.

I still wanted to create something that allowed people to be able to visit a living world together from around the globe. To get there we would need more support from Improbable and a much bigger team. Funding efforts weren’t going well because investors wanted to see more before investing. The time required for one developer/game designer and a designer to create what we need would just take too long, we needed more help which costs money. This became a contention point between me and my business partner. Eventually I just didn’t see a future in continuing the way we were. I decided to stop working on MetaWorld and focus on a new title called Community Garden. Community Garden would start small to prove the viability of building persistent VR worlds in SpatialOS.

I was surprised when I found out my partner had started an IndieGoGo fund. To avoid confusion, I wanted to make it clear that I’m not currently working on MetaWorld and I don’t know how my partner plans to deliver on the promise of the fund. If you plan on donating to the IndieGoGo fund, please note that none of the work I produced for the MetaWorld you see in videos like the one above is what will be delivered.

Wordsum Is Now Completely Free

ue to Soomla no longer supporting their plugin for IAP I decided to make the original Wordsum free with no IAP and no Ads. I thought this would be better then spending my time trying to find a new IAP system for a now 2 year old game. I also just don’t have the time since I’m only one person. Another plus is that I could now port the game to Windows, Linux and Mac. opefully more people get to play and enjoy the game now.

https://itch.io/embed/57923?linkback=true

Having some fun with retro and government contracting

I’ve worked for a number of companies over the years as a programmer. My time at government contractor was particularly interesting. It was like working in a different parallel universe where everything looked the same but was strange. Unlike the commercial sector, we didn’t worry much about deadlines or being first to market with an idea. Our struggles revolved around protecting the funding for our contracts. We had fought against bad Project Managers that would mismanage team resources. We fought to keep bad programmers from ruining code. At the end of the day, there was the threat of the government swooping in to take away our funding. No funding meant no job.

We joked that all of this sounded like a old video game. Something like Missile Command for the Atari 2600. The evils of the world trying to destroy our project while the lowly employee fought to defend it.

It sounded like a good idea but my skills as a video game developer were lacking and Unity hadn’t become the giant it is today for indies. Fast forward 10+ years and I decided why not try to see what I can do in a week. I busted out my notebook and sketched a rough idea of what I envisioned.

 Design notes for game. This was my first time really trying to make pixel art so I tried to keep it simple. I also kept track of issue discovered during play testing.
Design notes for game. This was my first time really trying to make pixel art so I tried to keep it simple. I also kept track of issue discovered during play testing.

I faced some interested challenges along the way but after a week, I had something that was pretty fun.

 Final screenshot of Project Defender. Bad Programmers and the Gov weren't originally in the game but I added them to solve issues that came up during play testing.
Final screenshot of Project Defender. Bad Programmers and the Gov weren’t originally in the game but I added them to solve issues that came up during play testing.

I really enjoyed taking a break from working on big projects to make this game. It was very helpful showing me some holes in my game design knowledge. Give the game a try and let me know what you think.

https://itch.io/embed/119937