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Game development is a long and arduous process for big development companies – or so they want you to think! Actually, with mobile VR games taking front and center of VR experiences, and with Jesse Schell of Schell Games (I Expect You To Die) adamant that mobile VR headsets will outnumber the likes of Oculus 4 to 1 in the coming years, it’s a fertile market to get into.
A fertile market that relies more on the idea rather than fancy, complex coding or top-of-the-line graphics. Let us introduce you to a few games to illustrate our point.
#1. Voxel Fly VR
Voxel Fly is an endless flier. That’s right, no more running for us! In this game, you sit in the cockpit of what is definitely not a TIE-fighter (no, copyright lawyers, no!) and fly.
Your route takes you through the longest underground one-way street of the future. And it’s full of flying cars and trucks coming right at you! It’s just like that one Doctor Who episode! You will also be reminded of the Sixth Element. But your task in the game is to avoid hitting any cars or pieces of surrounding architecture.
You might notice that the artwork is extremely stylized. The amount of polygons used in the models of the cars can be counted on your fingers. The textures aren’t too detailed, either. And does the game suffer for it? No, not at all! Cars fly (and sometimes crash with simple physics), music plays and pulse pounds. Couldn’t you make something like that yourself?
#2. Radial G Infinity
Now, Radial G is a true endless runner, in that you’re running away from something. This time, it’s a giant robot that’s gobbling up the road behind you. And you are flying in a mysteriously road-bound spaceship. You can jump between three parallel tracks, collecting orbs for points, dodging robotic minions and always hunting for jump and boost zones.
And it can be played on Cardboard! You control the ship with your head, so you probably want straps on your Cardboard-equivalent. The game isn’t too graphically intensive and its formula is tried and tested. Why not make your own endless runner on Unity or Unreal Engine 4?
This is a conversion of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for cardboard VR users. In this game, you’re in a free fall through some orbital structures. Your goal is to fly through colored gates and touch (not crash into) as many structures as possible. Sounds simple enough!
Once again, you control your flight with your gaze/head. And the visual part is really simple – there’s no player character model, the structures are very much abstract, and visuals in general reminds us games circa the year 2000. It’s the idea that carries the day!
#4. End Space VR
Now we’re talking! End Space VR is an endless space shooter. You hop into your souped-up space fighter and take on wave upon wave of fighters, frigate and more! You will shoot ships and collect power ups (that restore health and ammo).
You will fight ships with multiple damage locations, shearing turrets and guns off larger vessels as if you were playing Starlancer VR. Your fighter is definitely overpowered in comparison to the enemies, so that’s why you’re facing so many of them!
The game is beautiful when compared to many others on our list. But that’s not that hard to accomplish. Stock 3D model marketplaces like CGTrader have a lot of spaceship models.
A lot of low-polygon spaceship models which are the kind games and especially mobile games need/want the most. The rest of the development process can be accomplished with the help of numerous tutorials that popular and free game engines have.
#5. Protocol Zero
Hey, it’s the year 2000 again! Actually, Protocol Zero only looks that way. It’s a stealth shooter in which you need to navigate a city taking out cameras and guards. It has a peculiar navigation system – in this first person game, you move by selecting pre-set waypoints on the ground. The developers thus avoid the need for actual controllers. Aiming and shooting, this is done with your head, and, as the reviewers note, it’s extremely satisfying.
As we already said, the game looks old. Not retro, just old. But that’s the reality of working with mobile VR. Sure, you can go the EVE: Gunjack route and go full Unreal Engine 4, but that will set your Gear VR on fire. If you want to tap the economical headset (or Cardboard) crowd, you need something less intense. Stock low polygon models are at your service, and as demonstrated by the movement controls, gameplay trumps visuals.
This article covered only 5 games out of hundreds of VR offers out there. Some are much prettier, like the Witness-esque Land’s End. Some are more intricate, like DreadHalls. But all of them should inspire you to create your own games. Don’t code – many of the free game engines (Unreal Engine 4, Cryengine, Blender, Goo Create and so on) support visual programing.
Don’t model – buy models of stock 3D model sites. Just dream, and see that dream first become a design document, and let the document guide that dream into a mobile VR reality.
Let us know how you feel about developing your own games and what challenges you face by commenting below.