Updated VR3DImgeViewer - More Asset Store Experience Talk

Friday, May 20, 2016

Last week I updated VR3DImageViewer, and it was approved on the asset store a few days ago. The main things that are updated about it is a new optional method for rendering 3D images, and some better visuals for conveying what the asset does.

When I first made this script in a failed bid to show what I could do to show I'm worth asking to be a part of the VRChat team, I did so with a different method of rendering the 3D images than what I released in v1.0 of the asset. Originally I came up with a idea to use Layers and Culling Masks on the camera to hide those layers from rendering to each eye. The script would just copy the image object, set the source and copy to different layers, and ensure the camera didn't render the layers for the other eyes. I scrapped this method after Oculus updated the SDK to work in conjunction with Unity supporting VR natively. When that change happened, you suddenly just used a single camera object for VR, and could no longer set the Culling Masks for each eye interdependently.

My script was dead. I had to research a new method. What I came up with was responding to the rendering of each eye. Shortly before a eye would render, it would call out a method and in that method I'd set the material on a object to what that eye should see. This worked with the new single camera setup, and with 2 camera setups as well. So I thought there was no need for the older method anymore. Turns out I was wrong! I was wrong about  couple things actually. The other thing I was wrong about was that Vive was supported by Unity native VR. But no, it uses SteamVR as a SDK and that is more similar to the older OVR-SDK. Well, kind of somewhere in between. SteamVR uses just a single camera, but lets you set the culling masks for each eye. Back to the point, SteamVR didn't work with my newer method for whatever reason, but would work with my older method. Sure, I could wait till Unity 5.4 when Vive gets native support added in Unity, but I can't guarantee that that would solve the issue. So why not polish up the older script as an option?

Turns out, Google Cardboard didn't work with my other method either. But would with my Layered method. Weird, but whatever I got both methods included, and in the ReadMe there's setup instructions for every major VR device/SDK.

Now the other update. The screenshots I made for v1.0 sucked. I don't think they really conveyed asset very well. That's the trick about VR/3D. Unless your seeing it in VR/3D, you cant really grasp it. How could I show a 3D picture in 2D? Well, for this version I created a generic VR camera rig, showing the view from each eye. But that wasn't enough. 3D images tend to have subtle difference from each side, that a viewer may not be able to distinguish in 2D. So I included a split screen texture thats not 3D, but just shows a clearly different image on each half. So anyone can tell that each camera is seeing a different half of the image. Even then I figured I should rotate the camera rig a little for the screenshot so you can tell your not just looking at a single picture with 2 different images on a wall, but understand they are 2 camera's looking at the same 1 picture and seeing different things. Should be a lot better now. But sadly, probably still not perfect.

I dreaded doing it, but I concluded that I needed to make a video. Everything about advertisement and showcasing my project annoys me. In a perfect world, I'd just make a project, add a simple description, and the people who want it get it. A product should sell itself with no extra effort. That's how I feel, but thats just not how things are. After spending a lot of time working on a project itself, I'm not done. And I have to spend a lot more time on stuff that isn't coding, modeling, etc. back to Videos themselves, that a lot more effort. have to make sure I have good recording software, plan out a script of what order I do stuff in to showcase the project in the video, come up with a script of dialog, make sure my mic works and I talk well when recording, or what I instead did, use text captions. Do I need music? I have to learn to use some video creation software, etc. I don't know if it sound like a pita to you, but it is to me.

I sucked it up and worked on a video for a day. I think it came out well, but who knows. I figure it was worth it in the end to know I've done everything I could to attract buyers and appeal to them. I don't like the idea of me failing to get a sale because someone who saw the asset didn't understand it, or just saw it and thought "No Vid? No buy!" like a couple people I know said they were like. I can't fathom that mentality, but if it exists, what can I do?

I tweeted it again, in vain hope of retweets that never came, friends or Unity. I post about it on Unity reddits. I even made Unity Forum posts for both of my assets for promotion and discussion.

In the end, a few days later... nothing. I've had sales for each asset before I submitted this update. But since, none. Kind of my worst fear about putting in all the effort people feel is proper to promote a project. There no guarantee that it will bear any fruit.

The old screenshots, lack of video, lack of reddit post, instantly buried announcement tweet, lack of forum post, etc. That had to be worse promotion, but in reality it's somehow paying out the same. I can only hope that all this extra effort pays off over time, but I can be certain I won't be able to tell the difference. I guess I was hoping that when I put my best foot forward with this update, I'd be getting the results I expected when I first released it. A few buy on day 1, and 1-3 a week after that. Seems modest to me as it would take awhile to even so much as break even on the time I invested in it. But that's not modest enough I guess.

The asset store is brutal! It's just a huge gamble. You chose to make an asset, and theres just no telling if your going to get a proper return on whatever time you invest into creating it. I'd even say most asset store publishers probably don't get a return on their investment that makes it worth it. Just a few publishers selling some art and in depth systems.

I didn't log my time when working on the assets, and it's not like I expected to feel like I broke even on my invested time quickly. But I don't feel I'm on track to hit that goal any time soon. I wasent trying to "make it big!" on the store, and make a living off of it. I just wanted a little money to buy a few assets and start making my own game. So I figured I just needed a couple simple assets that would get me what little I need, in a couple months. What I made, I never expected to be a candidate for a top seller. They're things that fill niche needs. Things I don't have to spend an extremely long amount of time on. A few weeks each, tops. I'm just surprised at how they are selling. The Unity Asset store isn't a real viable option to make money. Only if your lucky. Maybe its VR too. Due to being engrossed in VR like I have the past few years, maybe I felt there are more bright eye nooby VR devs then there actually are. Only positive thing I can say is, maybe the amount of VR developers will grow significantly from here, and having my assets out before hand works out for me. The need for my assets grows from here, and mine are good enough that no competition feels the need to be made.

I really don't know where to go from here. I can't really get started on my RPG yet. Probably not for months now at this rate. I now know what I know about selling on the asset store, so working on something else doesn't sound very appealing. I'd have to have an amazing idea to feel like getting behind it enough to see it though to the end. I want to work on something, but have no direction to go. I might have to work on an older project just to pass the time. For now, I've just been killing time on a WoW emu server. But I need to be moving forward on some project, so I don't want to do that very long.


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