Last weekend we were proud to support Global Game Jam 2019 in Menlo Park, CA and, as expected, the event was full of the traditional game jam happenings: mind-blowing creativity, new friends, lack of sleep and maybe a few lines of broken code.
This year's theme was What does "Home" mean to you? and the enthusiasm for immersive technology was at an all time high. Ten of the thirty-three teams at the MPK Global Game Jam Site chose to dedicate their weekend to developing a VR application. The hardware distribution broke down to five games on Oculus Go and five on Oculus Rift, while on the software tools side, all VR teams leveraged Unity and a combination of everything from VRTK and Photon Networking, to Blender and Audacity.
In case you missed this year's event, see below for more information on three of the experiences along with insights from this year's jammers.
Team Fraiser Crane Co. were excited to re-imagine what a traditionally analogue experience could be like in VR. Teddy's Tree House is a 3D comic book where you try to save your pet Chicken named 'Eggs' from a maniacal squirrel as you complete mini-games and experience innovative storytelling mechanisms in a mixture of 2D and 3D artwork. Developed for the Oculus Go, it's certainly a glimpse into the potential of innovative storytelling with immersive technologies.
This experience had a wonderfully playful look that really elevated the overall story, with visuals brought to life with a combination of Blender and Pro Create. One of the three developers on this team even created his first Blender asset in the form of mittens in Blender which is certainly commendable and could double as an asset for a 3D Stan Marsh. The same developer was also having trouble finding a regal picture frame, so he algorithmically created the frame using Blender as well. You have to respect the Game Jam state of mind!
Developer: Cristiano Ferreira from Seattle, WA
It’s very easy to get up and running with Oculus Go development. I had only targeted Rift in the past and was worried about the hurdles regarding remote deployment / debugging affecting development time. Some of those imagined hurdles did exist at the start, but were far less of an issue than what I had built up in my mind. Once everything was hooked up, it was a ‘set it and forget it’ situation.
In Snail Sim 2 you play as a shelled mollusk in a bathroom looking to find your way home. As a snail in FPS mode, you must crawl (slowly) across the floor and overcome gravity by sliding up/over objects to reach your beloved fish-tank before your time runs out. Defying gravity, being inside a shell and the playful use of scale made for a fun experience that helps you envision what a “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” game might look like in the future...
This simulator was created with Unity and Sketch. The idea of crawling up the wall could push one's comfort level, but thankfully the slow speed of the snail and anchoring the snail's eyes directly in front of you removed most cases of discomfort inside the HMD. In regards to creative locomotion, if you're interested to learn more, check out our Locomotion Best Practices Article, or the Locomotion Sample Scene for Unity.
Developer: Saad Kayyali from Amman, Jordan
We wanted the snail eyes to be on the screen the whole time and we managed to do that without any gameplay discomfort.
I learned that the brain is quick at adapting to the new environment; the first time I walked on the wall it felt strange then it became normal.
Flying House is a multiplayer, house-flying simulator inspired by Up and developed for the Oculus Rift. Players work together to keep their home afloat, feeding their fireplace with coal in order to keep the hot air flowing while simultaneously steering the house towards the promised land.
The team behind Flying House was made up of 5 developers and 1 artist, leveraging Unity, Photon Networking for multiplayer a-symmetrical gameplay, and GAIA to generate the massive world. The locomotion was achieved through a unique teleport-dash system, while the player picks up coal and fends off flying particles through tethered grabbing, you can also direct your house with a steering wheel as one would a traditional automobile.
Multiplayer gameplay for VR is certainly going to reach new levels of creativity in the future and a-symmetric experiences like this one provide just a glimpse into what is possible. If you're looking to learn more about building multi-player VR experiences, check out the following OC5 Presentation Video: Bootstrapping Social VR.
Developer: Andy Tsen from San Francisco, CA
I expected to find resistance when pitching VR, since most people don’t have VR dev experience, but almost everyone I talked to ended up working on a VR project. It was really simple to get VR up and going for the newer developers, and everyone was able to contribute something awesome to the process.
As a consequence of developing something that was really out there in terms of game design, we discovered that VR games have a huge experiential component to them that’s really different from flat games. Just being able to sit in our floating house and soak in the music, atmosphere while our house slowly floated towards its destination was my favorite part of the game.
Thank you to our friends at Facebook Gaming for collaborating with us on the event and to our fellow VR enthusiasts at Unity for providing support with their game engine throughout the weekend. Check out our Unity Developer Guide for numerous materials to get started building VR applications with Unity, and our Unity Integrations SDK page for the latest SDK updates.
We look forward to jamming globally once again in 2020!
- The Oculus Team