My first published Unity asset!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Today is a big day for me. I finally get to take my first step into being a game developer. I also finally get to see a 12+ year hobby start turning into something more. Perhaps the start of a career.

Today my first of hopefully many assets hit the Unity Asset Store. I suck at naming things, but I called it "VR 3D Image Viewer". It allows devs to use Side-by-Side 3D images in their scenes and for users to view them as intended, with full 3D effect in VR. It works with SBS, Cross-eyed, and Top/Bottom style 3D images. You could even use it with animated images if you wanted, as I almost included a VideoTexture demo showing Big Buck Bunny before I decided to scrap that due to that not being the most ideal use for VideoTexture, and that it might be misleading. That also bloated the package size beyond reasonable levels. Perhaps I'll do an update later for that.

The script uses Unitys integrated VR support, so it should support most VR devices. I also allowed it to support other VR headsets that might use 2 cameras, one for each eye, like older Oculus SDK's. So hopefully all VR devices are covered.

I also included a script to help devs take SBS 3D screenshots of their scenes, to help make sure there's an easy source of 3D images to use with the main script.

It's ideal for gallery's obviously. And I guess combined with a video file viewer like AVPro or something, movie theater type experiences. Beyond that I could envision it being used to replace standard 2D pictures, posters and such you might see on walls in a scene. Probably mostly in Sci-Fi themed scenes to get a sort of 3D hologram effect. I haven't tried it, but perhaps it could also be used to save some resources when rendering some background areas the players only view from direct angles. Like instead of rendering all the meshes for scenery outside a window, instead you take a 3D screenshot of it and place just a plane or quad with the image there instead. It wouldn't be a perfect visual replacement or anything, but may be good enough in some cases. Maybe a Mario 64 type painting portal would be cool in 3D. Who knows. I look forward to see what people might use it for that I haven't though of!

It's funny how long I've had this script in development. I first made a version of it in 2014 hoping to see it used with VRChat. Showed the demo around to the VRChat devs and a couple others, but didn't get much of a response. It sat collecting dust on my HDD for about a year before I decided to rework it into something I could release on the Unity Asset Store as part of a larger VR asset pack. But it again started collecting dust because I was having trouble coming up with ideas for a asset pack diverse enough to seem worth it, as well as balancing all the development of all the individual components I felt I needed to showcase the package. I recently rethought all the those assets, and concluded it would be better to just release them all individually rather than not at all.

I really wasn't sure on the price. I landed on $15, figuring if I absolutely needed to I could reduce it later. I see it as easier to reduce a price then raise it. It's hard knowing what some code is worth to people who possibly can't code at all. I could easily see myself underselling the value of any script I might put on the store based on my own view as a guy who can code it. Unity and its asset store is a great resource because you can be a guy who say, doesn't know how to code at all and maybe finds trying to do so to daunting. But you can still make a game by buying the assets you can't make yourself!

Hopefully the price works out well, and I can finally start funding development of my own game. That's the main reason I want to put content on the asset store. Until now, all I could afford is free assets. So when making my own games I either had to deal with the limited free assets, or create my own. I've spent the past few years trying to be a jack of all trades, polishing my ability to code, teaching myself 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, and unity scene design itself. And while that's great, and I still want to get better at it all, its trying to be a game dev with one arm tied behind my back while everyone else has both, not being able to purchase assets.

A big part of me wishes I could have released this script for free, along with the ones to come. I've spent 12+ years now coding stuff that I made freely available, and that feels natural to me. I can see the other side though. I like free stuff like this too. But there comes a time when I have to start moving forward and see a return for the time I invested. And I'd never be able to afford decent assets to get my own game off the ground if I released free assets. Honestly, a lot of people who might read this would probably 100% understand. But seeing the path I took to the past 12 years of making free stuff, I kind of feel like I have to justify it to someone.

Anyway. I'm working on another asset I hope to release to the store soon too. It's another from my scrapped VR asset pack, so obviously another VR thing. After that I might work on polishing up another thing from that pack. I've just been working on releasing things in order of closest to being done being released first. I think I have 1 more set of scripts after that, but that needs a LOT more work and thought. Beyond those, maybe I'll work on some models. I'd love to see myself in a position were I'm confident enough in my modeling/texturing ability to release that type of content on the store!


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