Monday Musings: Release Fear

Welcome to Monday Musings! These are are shorter-form, note-like blog posts that I share that may or may not be related to VR/AR, but that I want to share some quick thoughts on, get some extra insight on, or share out quickly.

Releasing software is scary.

At least when I worked on a product team, release was part of the entire team’s responsibility. If there were bugs or something wasn’t liked, it was a distributed result of team decisions. There were plenty of checks and balances. As an independent solo developer, that safety net goes away.

With VR, the release fear seems even more intense. On top of putting your work out into the world (something already a little nerve-wracking), you’re doing it with a market where best practices aren’t fully established yet. It’s an industry where a lot of first impressions are still being made, and frankly, you don’t want to be the developer that puts out an experience that “poisons the well”.

Full disclaimer: I hate that phrasing, but it definitely is a sentiment that I hear people discuss aggressively in relation to VR experiences.

I’ve seen people vocally harass other companies for giving a VR demo with a roller coaster, despite the generally positive reaction to Temple Run, a game that breaks all the rules with forced locomotion. I’ve experienced first-hand “holier-than-thou” people who get irritated with me when I show WebVR at VR events, despite the fact that I always explicitly talk about how it’s a work in progress technology that has its own set of drawbacks, especially around hitting performance requirements.

Of course sharing work is now scary at this point – and it’s why I am only making KittenVR available for download outside of VR stores. It does break the rules – I give the player the ability to walk around, because to me, it’s a lot of fun to explore new places in VR and locomotion that way doesn’t bother me, personally. I haven’t gotten to the stage where I’ve been able to optimize KittenVR and there are lots of bugs, so while I want to share my work with the world, there’s also that nagging feeling of “It’s not good enough yet.”

So, I ask for two things with this Monday Musings post – that experienced developers send me their tips for adopting a “IDGAF if you hate my game” (which I will of COURSE share and pass on in a future post!) and that everyone who tries a VR experience takes the developer into consideration. Maybe that application that doesn’t hit 60FPS just yet is the product of someone using Unity for the first time. Showing someone different types of developing technologies and explaining their usage doesn’t automatically warrant rude comments about how they shouldn’t be at an event with an app that is struggling to perform well after 8 hours of running continuously. Be polite and remember that real humans are building these things because they love them. That application might not be your cup of tea, but someone worked hard on it. Give them feedback in a nice, positive way.

<3

Advice that can be applied to life, y’all.

-L

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