I’m happy to announce that I just received the notification that Sharkferno has been accepted to the Oculus Store and will be published next week on January 30, 2020.
This has been a long process. My git repository shows my first Sharkferno code commit on July 30, 2017. Of course Sharkferno has not been my day job. I worked on it when I could, typically a few hours a week. But, after 30 months and a number of iterations based on “changes requested” from the Oculus Store, here we are.
Why did I make Sharkferno and what was its inspiration? Many things. I wanted an open world. I wanted to fly through it in VR. I wanted to rescue people rather than attack, injure, or shoot people. The idea of switching consciousness came after a while, but is one of my favorite features. Most of all I wanted the mechanics of flying, walking, and rescuing to be fun in VR.
I want to thank those who helped by testing and offering useful suggestions, especially my family, colleagues around the world that I met through Oculus Start, and local game developers at the Tech Valley Game Space. Thanks to TVGS also for allowing me to set up the game at one of their monthly game showcases, in which a broad population literally came “off the street” and tried Sharkferno. My main takeaway from that experience was the young girl and her dad who both tried Sharkferno. The girl, who was perhaps 6 years old, took to the game quickly and played it for a while, although she commented that the scenery was not very good. The main question from her dad was “Why am I playing as a chick?”
Special thanks to Oculus Engineer John Carlino whom I had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with at Oculus Connect 5 through the Oculus Start program. When I sat down with John I started to explain Sharkferno, but was surprised and pleased when John told me there was no need; he was already familiar with Sharkferno from my initial Oculus Store submission. My focus had been on the mechanics of Sharkferno and making sure that it was fun. John had no critique of that but gave invaluable advice that (1) how to play the game was not obvious enough, and (2) there needs to be a reason for a player to want to go back, not just play it once. Based on this good input I added the Sharkferno tutorial and leaderboard and will add some additional environments post-release. I appreciated the insight on what it really takes to contribute to the Oculus ecosystem.
Sharkferno showcases the two assets that I have for sale on the Unity Asset Store: The Flying Drone Toolkit and the NPC Populator. Both are used extensively in Sharkferno, and Sharkferno stretched their capabilities. Anyone familiar with the NPC Populator may be puzzled that the NPCs in Sharkferno do things like crouching when weapons are fired, running away from sharks and looking at nearby drones. These are beyond the NPC Populator currently for sale and are in fact from my not-yet-released NPC Behavior Builder. My next project will be to make the NPC Behavior Builder easier to use and compatible with more third-party character models and animation clips, and publish it on the Unity Asset Store.
I’ve been interested in virtual reality since reading Howard Rheinghold’s book in 1992. Thanks to Oculus and Facebook for making it real so that hobbyists and independent developers like me have such an excellent platform to develop against.