In its early days, critics deemed Virtual Reality a niche innovation with limited potential for wide adoption and monetization.
Now, brands like Resolution Games — makers of the popular VR fishing game Bait!, available for download on mobile here — are flipping the idea that VR can’t be mainstream on its head. After surpassing 700,000 downloads on the Gear VR since its launch, Bait! has now expanded their content offering in response to consumer demand with “Treehouse River”, a new fishing destination, and 10 new species of fish.
So what do the makers of Bait! credit their success to? For one, a focus on the quality and authenticity of the environment — something that’s not always easy to pull off in mobile VR games, especially ones with outdoor settings. Resolution Games shares that the key to a high-quality VR environment is designing the game with the limitations of the medium — and the fact that mobile chipsets tend to have lower computing power than traditional PC games — in mind.
VR scenes with a low frame rate, for example, have been known to cause nausea and instability. To address the risk common to VR content, Resolution Games made sure that each scene within Bait! never dips below 60 frames per second. Similarly, since outdoor environments tend to be inherently more intricate and complex than indoor ones, the quality of the graphics is paramount — they usually necessitate scenes being within about 50k polygons.
The key to achieving that? Keeping the number of draw calls to a minimum by adding textures and using as few materials as possible, says Resolution Games. Real-time lighting also has a huge impact on performance — by avoiding real-time lights and instead baking the lights, you can use more polygons/textures in your scenes for a more detailed environment. Additionally, since you sit at a fixed position in Bait! that makes it possible for Resolution Games to delete all the back-facing polygons (that the player doesn’t see anyways) and frees up their polygon quota to be spent on other assets.
While staying within the performance budget might be tricky, it’s well worth the payoff. Developers who dedicate themselves to providing a comfortable, rich and immersive experience for their users will almost certainly see that hard work translate into increased downloads and revenue.
Bait! is free and available for Samsung Gear VR in the Oculus VR Store. Learn more on the official website or Facebook page. Interested in learning more about developing for VR? Check out our resources here.