Sploot's a VR game where you get to step into the webbed feet of a seagull that poops uncontrollably, raining fecal terror on the unsuspecting populace of an island town. I released it summer of 2015, and it went on to get some good attention in the press, with Kotaku, Killscreen and Offworld writing about it. The game's available on my itch.io page.
Development started in early 2015, growing out of a game jam I participated in. I did the initial sprint of development in about three and a half months to meet the deadline for Indiecade submission, but I've cracked open the Unity project a couple times over the years to do update the VR SDK's (supports Vive now!), fix bugs and do some optimization work. While the game was made specifically with VR in mind, it does work on a conventional monitor and keyboard as well.
This was my first attempt at doing 3D art. All the art was done with Blender and Adobe Illustrator. Since this game was developed on an Oculus DK1, there were some pretty strict limitations on screen resolution I had to work around. I knew from a technical standpoint that rendering a sizable town in flyover was going to require a lot of geometry, and performance is at a premium in VR development. Katmari Damacy ended up being a big source of inspiration for the art, since it scales well with volume and it was within my artistic grasp to make art in a similar style. The simplistic style, vibrant colors and chunky details are also very easy to read on the low resolution, early gen VR headsets.
I was reading a lot about VR at the time, which reflected a lot on what ended up in the game. I read an article about how researchers had discovered that having a virtual nose gave users a frame of reference that reduced motion sickness. I have no idea if it works or not, but I got a kick out of putting a virtual beak on the player. Also, at the time I felt that too many VR games were serious in style, and I wanted to do something a lot more playful. It's fine for games to be serious, but I definitely think there's a thing as taking oneself too seriously. Surrealism and humor have always interested me in games, and Sploot was an attempt at capturing some of that. Mechanically, I wanted something simple and approachable, and I particularly felt at the time that controllers didn't pair very well with VR. All steering is controlled strictly with the headset, the bird poops automatically (initially I experimented with voice controls for this). Players have to hit buildings, cars and people to get as many points as possible in 3 minutes. Eating bread gives you a stacking score multiplier, and gold targets are worth extra points. The virtual beak also gave a great opportunity for visual feedback when eating bread!
I'm a big fan of diegetic UI's, particularly in VR. Sploot's main menu transition might be the greatest thing I've ever made, and keeps with the playful tone of the game.
Sploot was a project that was supposed to be fun, and it was! I didn't make it with profit in mind, I just wanted to make a funny and cool game that people would enjoy. There are some hidden touches I put into the game, like adding an actual seagull model that can only be seen in the replay camera when you hit a target. This was the final thing I added to the project, technically coming out in a patch. At this point I'd gotten a lot more comfortable with 3D art, and I'd found out that I rather like animating.