Why Cave Defender

TL;DR:

I’m making a VR tower defense game for Google Cardboard (iOS and Android) and can’t wait to launch it. I would appreciate it if you subscribe for development updates here.

Back in April 2016

I participated in the Global Archiact Jam and made a little tower defense game for Google Cardboard. It was great getting something small shipped in less than a month, especially on a new medium like Virtual Reality. I had strong opinions about VR for some time and I felt like I should do some work in the space. The result was the first prototype build of Cave Defender.

Inspiration

My interest in game development began in childhood and I worked in the industry for over five years. I’m also inspired by local indie studios like Hinterland, RAC7, Slick Entertainment and Eden Industries. They vary in size but all have achieved incredible things. This year I decided to start working on a full product release of Cave Defender. 

I want to make a great game experience for the Cardboard platform. There is a lot of untapped potential for VR and I want to work within the current constraints to make something engaging.

I also want to launch an indie game title to check that bucket-list item off, as well as have it as a reference of a shipped product.

The road so far

The game jam build of Cave Defender got good feedback from other game jam participants. I had (willing) family, friends and coworkers try it and it seemed like I was on the right track.

For most of 2017 I worked on it irregularly. For a little while I was making steady progress by participating in #screenshotsaturday on Twitter: committing to share a screenshot with new content on a weekly basis.

In-game screenshot of Cave Defender from early in production

In-game screenshot from early in production

This worked for a little while but fizzled out.

In August I was re-inspired to resume working on the game after listening to the narrative design episode of the podcast PlayMakers by Jordan Blackman.

In Episode 6, Ed Kuehnel shared a lot of Narrative Design insight and recommendations. I started watching his YouTube channel videos and began reading many of the books he referenced. Cave Defender has a story thanks to him!

The plan is to make most of this game on my own. The main area I will likely reach out for help/find creative commons-licensed content for is audio and music. I’ve been practicing all the other necessary skills over the years but haven’t made it to music composition quite yet.

I’m now working on the game on a regular basis, making progress daily. I will also be posting updates soon.

Challenges along the way

  • Going from high-level vision to specific deliverables
  • Wearing several hats (engineer, designer, artist, marketer, etc)
  • Prioritizing working on the game
  • Wrestling with thoughts like I helped ship AAA games why I am having trouble with this

Working through these continues to be a great learning experience.

How you can help?

Getting this far in my article is very appreciated! Any likes, up-votes, subscriptions, retweets, etc are hugely appreciated as well. I’m excited to share more of the game as it gets closer to release. I hope to create something that inspires you to dust off your forgotten Cardboard and give it a try. Thanks for reading.

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Google Cardboard VR Headset Reviews

I’m a bit late to be writing about Google Cardboard – it’s almost three years old, and Google has moved on to Daydream. It’s still relevant and interesting, even though at first I was quite negative about it.

Screenshot of my negative comment about Cardboard😅

It is still the least expensive way to play with VR: all you need Read more ›

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Taking 360 VR screenshots for Google Cardboard projects in Unity

I’ve started working on an indie VR game project, and wanted to take some screenshots for its website. I’ve been playing with VR View for the Web, and thought it would be good to have some 360 VR screenshots of the game as well. 360 video would eventually be needed for a trailer too.

I went searching and initially couldn’t find something that worked for me. The Unity Asset Store has several free plugins that require Windows (well, compute shader support) – I’m using Mac OSX (now macOS). There was one that had some native libraries for capture (included OSX binaries) but I couldn’t get it to work – nothing was ever written to disk. There were one or two commercial solutions that while pretty affordable, they offered way too much – I just wanted to take a simple screenshot. Read more ›

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Catch-up post

It’s been a while since my last blog post. A lot has changed. DeNA closed their Vancouver studio just over a year ago (~May 2015).

Later that month was the launch of a collaboration between my wife and I, a photo decoration app called Paint Paper Studio. We’ve updated it several times, and there is more to come. Including an Android port.

I joined Mobify in mid-July 2015. I’m still having a great time there, and have learned and grown a lot. I realized this is my first full-time non-game industry job. I actually got a lot of questions about this, but the industry has changed, and I have changed. Mobify was a great fit and I can still make little games on my own.

I started taking a photo every day as I walk to work. You can see them on my Instagram account.

In December Olya and I collaborated on and launched another mobile app: True Bokeh, a very simple photo taking app that forces the camera focus as near as possible. This helps you take ‘bokeh’ photos in lower light conditions with concentrated light sources.

In this past April I participated in two game jams. One was the famous Ludum Dare, and I completed a ‘compo’ entry. The other was the Global Archiact Jam, a Google Cardboard (VR) gamejam. It was refreshing to work on small games with no notions of profitability, retention rates, analytics or advertising. I plan on participating in an Unreal game jam some time in the near future.

I hope everyone had a great 2015 and first half of 2016. I plan on blogging more often, and sharing progress on new projects. I hope you do too.

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Why I Always Respond to Recruiters

My first interaction with a technical recruiter was during my second co-op placement (internship) at Relic Entertainment in 2007. We had individual phones and company extensions, and occasionally we would use it to call a colleague when we expected them at a meeting, or family could call in, etc. I received a call from someone I didn’t know, representing some recruitment agency.

Internally, I freaked out. How did they know my name? How did they get my Read more ›

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