Nick Pettit's underwater spelunking adventure videogame Neptune Flux has been selling slowly, but he's ready to give it a shot at the highest level of videogame platforms.
The 30-year-old Orlando videogame developer's creation, in the making since 2014, will be his first on Sony's virtual reality platform PlayStation VR.
"This is a chance to bring it to a new audience," said Pettit, a programming instructor on the Treehouse website. "But the challenge was I had to figure a lot of things out on my own. Not too many people have done this before."
The game received a US$10,070 (RM43,280) jolt in 2015, which it was the focus of a successful Kickstarter campaign. Neptune Flux released on PlayStation Network on Aug 8 and cost US$7.99 (RM34.34).
The game debuted on the PC-gaming site Steam in November, though Pettit admits he hasn't seen as much interest there as he would like.
PlayStation VR was released in October and has since seen its library grow to about 130 games.
The survival horror franchise Resident Evil received rave reviews when it landed on the platform in January. However, sales for the VR-capable Resident Evil 7 reportedly failed to live up to the company's expectations.
Sony's PlayStation store has been notoriously difficult to break into, said Kunal Patel, a videogame developer and advocate for Central Florida's development community.
That has meant gamers have had to be more diligent in finding content on virtual reality headsets, he said.
"If you are able to get a PlayStation VR game in there right now, it's a big accomplishment," he said. "If Nick can get on there early, and is one of the few to get through, people are hungry for content right now."
Patel's BrandVR focuses primarily on sales- and marketing-based content. However, he said he eventually hopes to create for PlayStation VR.
"As you get developers in the region who have embraced a platform, they share that knowledge with others," he said. "The other developers can learn the pitfalls and share what worked or what did not work."
Pettit's project can encourage others, as well.
"If I see Nick is doing well making games here in Orlando, then as an Orlando developer, that can inspire me to continue pushing my own project here," said Justin Link, whose company Chronosapien builds interactive media on several platforms. The company has worked on products for Kennedy Space Centre, Canon and Intel and expects to launch a virtual-reality music game early next year.
Developing for PlayStation VR has been educational for Pettit. As he built for it, he has had to adjust some of the game's features.
For instance, the game had to be compatible with Sony's controllers, which meant adding a feature that made the controller rumble at certain points in the game.
"There were a lot of times we were stressing out over technical challenges that I had never attempted before," he said. "I definitely lost plenty of sleep over it."
For the game, Pettit enlisted the help of screenwriters, voice actors and a composer.
Next, he said, he intends to take aim at augmented reality.
"There is much more pressure to create experiences that are long-lasting and more important" in augmented reality, he said. "If we, as developers, don't create things that are useful, it could go away." — Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service