So, I reached out to one of the higher ups at Oculus, and asked them if there was anything else that I could do to get feedback. They told me that their content review team would be getting back to me shortly.

A little while later, I got an e-mail from them saying that my application for Hardware hadn’t been prioritized, and that I’d be contacted when they have more developer hardware available.

Still no word from their content review team though. Hopefully I’m not supposed to read into the hardware request rejection as their feedback on my app… But since that’s the only feedback I got… maybe that is what they meant? I’m honestly not entirely sure.

I finally got feedback from Oculus.

Oculus-Feedback

Update: No response after the 10th day. Considering starting a log here. Yes I’m following up different ways each day. But I’ll probably give up on the log here before Oculus actually responds…

Day 9: Debated the nutritional value of the soles of my shoes. Wishing I had a dragon to fly off of this barren island.

Day 10: Today I found a bottle, with a message saying rescue planes would arrive ‘soon’. Drank all the rum, and now I’m sobering, and wondering where the rescue planes are. Should have stuck to the rum ration schedule.

So, I’ve gone back and forth with Oculus for nearly a month now. They re-affirm that I am approved for keys only. To me, this means that I have the ability to give my game away for free by publishing these early access keys. So I’ve tweeted out keys, and I’ve put them on forums, and other websites, and put them out on Facebook, and I’m not sure how many I have to give out, or if there is an amount after which they would start to reconsider me. My latest interaction with them outlined all of my changes to the latest version, and they approved it after playing 1 level for two and a half minutes. They didn’t even try the Multiplayer functionality (which is rough… but it was listed as a change). So they aren’t communicating with me, and I’ve received no feedback.

Meanwhile, I submitted to Google, and asked for their Daydream team to review it. Within an hour and a half, they e-mailed me back with feedback that was actually extremely helpful and relevant. They suggested that the blue dragon to the left of the area of focus in my 360 store screen shot looked a little blurry, and needed to be cleaned up. Super helpful. They also provided feedback, saying that if you remove the phone from the device, and click in the top left corner, the app crashes. So, I’m not sure if I had an exceptionally awesome reviewer, but I had 6 e-mails back and forth in the course of a friday evening, and I received an e-mail the following Monday morning indicating that I was approved for the Daydream Badge, and that it would show up in my game shortly.

Meanwhile. 26 days later. Oculus still hasn’t provided any feedback on what I can do to be publicly listed.

From a developers perspective, Google Daydream has been way more pleasant of an experience. I love their code samples, and their framework. I just wish they had more users.

Anyway, check it out. I’m on Google Play.

I’ve chatted with several Oculus Staff. They have reaffirmed that my game is approved and that I can generate Keys to distribute to whomever I would like. They have also said encouraging things like:

we’d be happy to take a look at your next project!

I asked a bunch of questions about what I can do. If I can distribute my game for free. I’ve cited other games that… aren’t great, but are at least listed on the store page. I’ve asked if I fix this or that, if it would make a difference. Then I went to the analytics, and I was shocked. The time that they spent actually playing my game is pretty surprisingly low. Which means it was based on the first impression of about 5 people. So, tell me that. Tell me that they looked at my store artwork, and played for about 20 minutes, and didn’t really get how to play. I can address that. That’s not difficult to provide that much feedback. And then I realized the kicker:

I didn’t even get an e-mail from them after the review was completed. They didn’t even e-mail me saying my game was done being reviewed. I happened to see it in the dashboard on a Friday afternoon. I e-mailed them on Monday because I was confused. They got back to me on Wednesday.

Some interesting full quotes:

The content review team decided that Dragon Flight did not meet the standards to be included in the Oculus Store.

As I mentioned, we’ve enabled Oculus Key generation on your submission so that you can distribute your content through the Oculus platform. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t offer specific feedback at this time. To get an idea of the content standards required for the Oculus Store, please take a look at our publishing documentation, especially our Best Practices and Publishing Requirements. You can also look through the games and applications that we currently feature.

We’re always looking for great new apps and games, so we’d be happy to take a look at your next project!

Here is my response:

Jared Judd Today at 14:15
My analytics show me that 21 Oculus staff/people installed my game. 13 of them played for 30 minutes without loading a single level. (Are they doing their job?) None of the players loaded my favorite level (flying a dragon in between islands). Only 5 of the 21 content review team that installed my game accomplished the first step in the game (flying through a ring).

K – I get that there isn’t real specific data that you can provide, but I get the sense that my game was rejected(?) on a very limited first impression. Which to me says Store Artwork, and maybe the lack of a tutorial? (13 of 21 users internally didn’t load a level after 30 average minutes of game play?)

You get on the back of a dragon, and you fly through a big floating ring in the sky to load a level. There are 4 rings. 13 players played for an average of 30 minutes without making it through one of the rings.

I know my game needs more polish. Might need a tutorial. Might need new store artwork. I’m self conscious about parts of it. I understand that you can’t give me specific feedback. But I don’t understand the feedback of “we’d be happy to take a look at your next project!” You barely took a look at my first project, and you haven’t really told me what you thought about it. I didn’t even get an e-mail after the content review team finished. I reached out to you 3 days later to ask what the next steps were, and was told simply that I can generate keys to distribute my game.

Honestly. After submitting my game, I didn’t even get an e-mail.
Think about that.

So after the realization that the only way to sell my game is on my own…

I’ve posted to Facebook to all of my friends. Oculus = Facebook after all, so let’s start there. None of my friends have the GearVR, and I’ve had 0 keys redeemed.

I’ve posted across a dozen different VR forums and said, hey, here’s my game’s website, and a bunch of free keys. All the VR forums I’ve been able to find have very few active users, and the post has had 2-3 views each, and 0 keys redeemed.

I’ve posted to Twitter, with as many hashtags as I could think of. Trying to give away free copies of my game, just to get usage statistics for Oculus, or as feedback on what I can change in my game. Honestly if somebody is just giving away copies of their unpublished game… I’d think it was a scam, or a waste of time. My trailer video has more retweets than me trying to give the game away for free, and as such I’ve had 0 keys redeemed.

I’ve given out Keys to all my developer friends in the space that have a GearVR, and none of them can use the keys. Why you might ask? Because they are already Alpha users of my game, and so their statistics don’t count(?). And thus, using this method, I also have 0 keys redeemed.

My discover is that I’m not good at Distributing Games. I can’t give away my game to players. You know who is really good at selling VR games? Oculus. They have a lot of users, and a lot of visibility, but I don’t have any ideas as to what I need to do to get published on their platform, and am left outside of their walled garden. It’s cold and lonely out here.

KHW9W-R9GAC-JCCYK-7GKCW-MJK93
GWC4F-4R3R9-XXTWA-4FQP9-PKC93
9KGQ6-J6TGW-YEA6K-GTC33-HCYEG
ANTH7-TE64F-JP9PY-XTEYT-KWYWE
Y3N7P-NC9T6-ET3JG-MYH7H-JNMYN

1. Launch the Oculus app.
2. Tap the menu icon in the upper left.
3. Tap the settings (“gear”) icon in the lower left.
4. Redeem Code
5. Enter one of the codes above. Odds are they still available :)

I’m pretty sure this is a very polite rejection letter, with no chance for repeal.

Keys-Only

So, my interpretation is that my only alternative is to distribute the game myself, and hope to find players which like my game, and produce impressive Usage Statistics, and then Oculus might reconsider helping to distribute my game.

Man, I wish I had a distribution partner, who had a bunch of users, and was willing to take a cut of the sales for my game. Really would make things easier for me.

DragonFlightApproval

I happened to be looking at something in the oculus dashboard and saw this! I haven’t gotten an e-mail yet, and I’m not sure what the next steps are, but either way, that looks really exciting!

(Edit: Turns out this is a deceiving way in which Oculus tells you that they dislike your product, and will rarely consider it for public distribution thereafter…)

I’ve submitted Dragon Flight to Oculus 3 times now. The first two I had entitlement issues, and I think I’ve finally got those figured out. It’s really exciting though, to see the status of my game passing all but the entitlements validation technical checklist items. So many green pretty checkmarks. I think it’s really neat how transparent Oculus is about exposing their automated technical tests.

Can’t wait to hear back on the rest of the review

So, I’ve gotten the game playable, and I’ve spent a lot of time working through the environment art, and the gameplay modes. I was really excited once I found what I considered to be a very fun loop within the game. There is very little left that I ‘have’ to do before I’d consider it the minimum viable product for the Gear VR. I have some lofty goals around post launch goals (Multiplayer, more levels, more dragons, more animations, more polish, better performance, etc. etc.).

But the basics of the game are you load into an environment where you can customize your dragon, view your scores, or climb atop a dragon, and fly into one of four realms. Within each realm there are 3 different game modes. First mode is a ring game, where you fly your dragon around the environment through a series of rings. It’s more of a suggested tour of the area, but allows you to just enjoy flying on a dragon and setting your own pace. The second mode is an unlimited fire mode, where you have several things to fly around and roast. This again, allows you to just enjoy flying around and lighting things up whilst riding on the back of a dragon. The third game mode is a challenge mode, where it combines flying through rings, collecting firepower, and then burning things down. This actually turns out to be really fun because you have to balance how quickly you pass through the rings, with how diligently you search for firepower. Fly to fast, and you won’t be able to burn down enough ships or buildings. Fly to slow, and you won’t have enough time to collect firepower, and you’ll miss out on burning things down.

Additionally, I’ll have a number of potions which can be collected throughout the levels which unlock dragon colors. So customizing your dragon is another layer of the game, where you will need to explore the far reaches to collect the colors that you want your dragon to be. Simple mechanics, but I’m really proud of how the game looks, and ultimately I find it really fun to develop, and to test, which is a promising thing. I still have to put together a video, screenshots, and finish some of the code around these features, but I hope to be just in Bug Fixing mode by October 1st. It’s getting really close now that the three game modes are available.

Next stop – additional hardware, and additional features. Unless the wind carries me in a different direction to a new project 😉

So, this spring, I started a garden, and it finally started to sprout, so I thought I’d share a video. It’s really cool, and we are excited to be able to harvest all of the things we’ve planted.