Chris Pruett AMA: Top 5 Developer Questions
Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by Oculus VR
March 7, 2019

Last week marked our first Oculus Developer AMA of 2019 and we kicked off this series with the one and only Chris Pruett, Director of Ecosystem at Oculus. Chris has been developing games for two decades and in that time has shipped over twenty titles for PC, console, mobile and (obviously) VR. He now works with development teams across the globe, advising on everything from VR development best practices and game design to making the most of your app business. Chris's AMA was filled with insights around the upcoming Oculus Quest release and general VR development, and while we have pulled out our top 5 questions from the event, you can check out the full AMA on the developer forum.

If you're looking for more from Chris and attending GDC 2019 check out Chris's presentation titled Down The Rabbit Hole w/ Oculus Quest taking place Wednesday, 3/20/19 and our pre-event, curated list of some of the best VR Presentations Videos.

Oculus Store Visibility + App Promotion

Developer Question

Hi Chris,

Visibility is one of the challenges for small indies with minimal marketing budget. How do you select the titles that you highlight / promote on the store? Are they hand picked, or selected based on previous sales figures / ratings / playtime or something else? Any insights may help steer our developments.

For example, I released a free experience that didn't take long to play but it was unique, polished and well rated but I expect that wouldn't appear on your radar due to 0 revenue and low playtime. Being free means I can't put it on sale to highlight the title so it's probably not a good route for visibility.

Chris Pruett Answer

Visibility is indeed a hard problem. What you see in the Store is a combination of algorithmic promotion and human curation. If we see something that is good that isn't getting the attention it warrants, we'll try to make it more visible. One of our goals with our new concept document is to help us get signal on titles that might benefit from increased visibility.

We've also discussed this topic at some length at Oculus Connect. See the following talks here:

Finally, I would say that marketing and visibility is a constant challenge for any indie developer. My strongest advice is to try to do everything you can in addition to whatever the platform provides to promote your game. I think this holds true for nearly all platforms.

Recommended VR Development Tool / Feature

Developer Question

What is a tool / feature that you’d like more VR developers to be aware of?

Chris Pruett Answer

The Oculus Audio SDK. It's a free tool for spatializing sound in Unity and Unreal, and it can be used to ship on all kinds of different platforms, even non-VR platforms. Better audio is a critical component of better VR and the Audio SDK makes high-quality spatialization pretty easy.

Oculus Quest: Hardware Use, APIs & Documentation

Developer Question

Hi Chris. Thanks for doing this AMA. Will developer resources for the Quest be limited to people who have an approved concept document?

Use case: I work with a small team of developers. We have several ideas but we are not sure what we want to do with them. We want to create a proof of concept to vet some of those ideas on Quest before submitting one for approval.

1. Will we be able to use an Oculus Quest to try out our ideas before submitting a concept document?

2. Will we have the same level of access to APIs and documentation as teams with an approved concept document?

Chris Pruett Answer

Generally speaking, the APIs and development environment required for Quest are the same as those already used on Oculus Go (our MobileSDK) and Rift (Unreal/Unity integration). You can develop an application and deploy it to a Quest device without any special sauce, and our existing public documentation applies. We've put a lot of effort into ensuring that developing for all our devices is consistent and easy.

That said, folks that make it past the concept approval stage will have access to a few resources that are not public. This may include early access to prototype software, extra documentation, and a channel into the Oculus content team.

Oculus Quest: App Audiences and Feedback

Developer Question

My current game in development for the Rift is very much a niche game being marketed towards Alien conspiracy enthusiasts. I plan to see how the game could be adapted for Quest for maybe a larger audience. If a Quest submission is rejected will reasons and feedback be given on what we should do to modify the proposal? Or should we move on to the next game concept and find one that does pass? My company is not lacking in ideas for games.

Chris Pruett Answer

I am a sucker for alien conspiracy theories. Please tell me you have an alien autopsy mini-game.

When submitting a concept to us, I think it's worthwhile to consider that your title may have access to a much wider audience than you initially intended. How can you talk to that audience without watering-down the content for your core enthusiasts? This is a hard game design problem, but it's worth considering folks who will just skim across the surface of your title as well as the folks that want to go deep down the rabbit hole. If you can service both audiences you have a good shot at success! Explaining how you address these audiences is a good thing to include in your concept document.

When it comes to feedback, we generally do not give feedback (beyond technical VRC failures) for applications or concepts that we reject. However, you can continue to work on the concept and submit it again in the future. Or you could move forward with production, ship on Rift, and use your success there as an argument for Quest. But when you do submit a concept document, please make it as real and as complete as possible.

With respect to our recent announcement about store curation, our goal is to ensure that folks who ship on our store have a real shot at success. We are trying to learn about titles in development as early as possible so that we can support those that look promising, and so that we can save developers who we don't think will find an audience a lot of development time and money. I think this will drive customer trust and lead to better returns for the devs shipping on our platform.

Oculus Quest: Development on a Mac, Workflows, Store Content

Developer Question

I'm a hobbyist Unity developer hotly anticipating the Quest as my first real VR headset. I've done a bit with Daydream, but after experiencing 6dof tracking and Touch controllers, I can't go back. I do my work from my MacBook Pro.

  1. Is there any way I could get started with 6dof controller development now? Doesn't seem like Rift would work for me.
  2. Could you give us any insight on how Quest development workflows will go? Will Quest be able to display the editor preview in realtime, or will we have to build each time to see changes?
  3. I'm seeing a lot of people freaking out over Oculus' recent announcement about a more cultivated store front for Quest. Could you tell us what this does and doesn't mean as far as game content, as opposed to purely game quality?

Chris Pruett Answers

That's a lot of questions! I will do my best!

I also work on a MacBook Pro as my main development machine. Unfortunately we do not have a good way to preview 6DoF in the headset with a Mac. For core gameplay iteration, particularly for things like hand interactions, I often switch over to my PC and use the Rift to test ideas and change them quickly. That said, it's also pretty easy to make a build and deploy it to the device. You can increase the speed at which you turn code changes around by splitting your data out into an asset bundle and only rebuilding the executable as described here: Tech Note: Expansion Files with Unity.

Top 5 VR Dev Insights

Developer Question

What are the top 5 things you wish developers knew before creating a VR experience?

Chris Pruett Answer

Here's a hot take:

    • Game play matters! VR technology is amazing, but if your game or app is primarily interesting because VR itself is fresh and new, it probably isn't good enough. The audience wants depth.
    • Design for performance up front. Your art style is your biggest single lever.
    • Use spatialized audio. The difference in convincingness of the scene is dramatic.
    • Get your hands right. It's easy to get hand models misaligned from real hand positions, which ruins the feeling that these are just your hands. Many developers are not careful enough about this, which leads to sub-par interactions and, in some cases, an uncomfortable form of uncanny valley.
    • Experiment! The grammar of VR is still being written, and you have the chance to help write it. Push your ideas to be more than just traditional software in a virtual space.

You can check out a full archive of our past AMAs on the Oculus Developer Forums, and comment below if you have any topics or Oculus engineers you'd like us to feature in any of our upcoming AMAs. Our next Oculus Forum AMA will be headed your way this coming April. Keep an eye on this blog, our email newsletter and our social channels for more information!

-The Oculus Team