From Kentucky to Silicon Valley: The Launch of Daydream Blue
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Sixth months ago I lay on a flat teal plane expanding out from underneath me in all directions. Above me was a vibrant blue sky. I knew that this was the start of what I wanted. Something about the sky, about lying on the grass, about the things I did growing up in Kentucky.
When I took off the GearVR I felt a shift in perception and emotional tone as I came back to my living room. Right then, I knew: We were going to scrap a month's worth of work and start on a new prototype with just days remaining before the first Oculus Mobile VR Jam milestone.
In June of this year, I found out our game Daydream Blue won Gold Prize in the Oculus Mobile VRJam--while I was standing in a movie theater parking lot after watching Mad Max. At the time, I had very little money and no real idea how to get to where I wanted to be: a VR developer focusing on accessible games for GearVR and other VR devices. Our team was in transition. Shea, the main developer on Daydream Blue, was out wandering around the US in his car. Amanda, who helped us with some wonderful artwork, had moved on to other things.
During the month of June I worked out how I could move forward with Daydream Blue. I was also working closely with John, my co-founder in Super Soul, a game studio, to figure out how I could leave the company in a way that was beneficial for both of us. At the same time, and with some amount of trepidation about startup culture, I applied to a business accelerator program in San Mateo California called Boost VC. A few weeks later I found out I was accepted. Surprised, and with only two weeks to spare, I hastily began tying up loose ends and preparing to move out to California for the start of the program.
I called up Shea and he agreed to join me as co-founder of the newly formed RalphVR company. Around this time my brother Jeff, with whom I have previously worked, both at Super Soul and on community art projects, offered to join us. I knew that we needed a third, especially to help with business concerns and logistics, so after first clearing it with Shea Jeff joined the team. Then on July 23rd, we set out from Lexington, Kentucky in an old Toyota Corolla to drive across the US.
We settled into Boost fairly well and met many smart and wonderful people. Being immersed in a climate of tremendous passion--nearly all the Boost companies work in VR--has been a tremendous boost to our drive and motivation.
For two months we mostly kept our heads down, spending our days and nights iterating on Daydream Blue, testing with people, and talking with other teams about their products and ours. Over time, with tremendous feedback from everyone at Boost and our friends back home, we came to build the core of what we wanted Daydream Blue to be. We also began crafting our plans for getting Daydream Blue out into the world, for marketing it, and for growing a community around it.
Then, on the Friday afternoon following Oculus Connect 2, Daydream Blue quietly launched on the Oculus Store for GearVR. Now it’s the following Monday, and here we are: trying to get the word out, working hard to build our community, preparing our first update to the game, and preparing for the consumer launch of GearVR.
We will follow up on this blog in a few weeks to update you on how things are going, to dive into our mistakes and successes, and hopefully to offer a couple pieces of advice for VR developers that have yet to take the plunge and release on the store.
In the meantime, here are the answers to three questions that I would have liked to know before I made the trip out to San Mateo.
What is the most important thing I have learned at Boost VC?
Strategy. We have to know exactly what we are doing and the reason why we are doing it at all times. We also need to be able to succinctly and clearly communicate our strategy to those around us. This will give those that want to help us an idea as to how they can help, explain to those we want to work with why they should, and provide our own team a constant reminder of our goals and progress.
What is the most important thing I have learned about VR?
To varying degrees, everyone is continually making the mistake of forcing practices and techniques from other mediums into VR. Until language develops around VR, we must stay vigilant in our critique, skepticism, and analysis of choices we make when building applications for VR.
What is the one thing I would say to someone considering getting into VR?
Understand that this is a long game and one in which we can’t predict the future. Those entering VR should expect years of hard work and scrapping it out, because that is what most of us will be doing. And once the dust settles you may find the most exciting and/or lucrative prospect for you may be something completely unexpected, perhaps even non-existent right now.
Thanks for reading!