The Design Document

We completed a game!

What do you mean, “what are you doing next?” We’re making another game!

The first task is to start thinking about the design document. In my case, I have to refresh my memory about what goes into the design document, and then think about how to approach it.

Here are GDD (Game Design Document) guidelines from Gamasutra.

Game Design Documents

This was written in 1999, but it still has the kernel of what a game design document should do.

Here’s another Gamasutra article trumpeting that GDDs are a Thing of the Past…and then telling you how to write one:

Here’s a contemporary Wikipedia article providing more in-depth guidelines:

A post on design documents from the subreddit r/gamedesign:

Finished Game Design Document Examples? from gamedesign

Some of the above links contain example documents to study.


Brainstorming, before I jump in and over-research the topic:
Since we took so long to produce Fantabula, this new project will be very small. Like, GameJam sized.  I don’t want to break our excitement at having completed a project. This new project should add to that momentum.

Scope: I want to learn about AI and Deep Learning, and play with Amazon’s Deep Learning Tinker Toys, but that would increase the scope beyond GameJam size, so let’s not make the Music Box I have in mind just yet. A better project would be a simple art gallery.

The 2016 Gamasutra article contains a good reminder that I still haven’t bought the materials I saw the team using during GameJam last January

–note to self, *ahem* *ahem*

Done. Bought.

Here–this link might be legal in your country:


So here’s my own takeaway from writing this:

How do I turn an art gallery into a game?

I hope to answer that in my next post.


P. S. :  The subreddit r/GameDesign has a superb wiki. Thanks, all!

Adding Oculus to our HTCVIVE project!

Welcome to Fantabula!

The story of how we made one of our scenes work with the Oculus as well as HTCVIVE.


We picked VRTK to get us around in VR, firstly, because there were a lot of ready scripts for awesome UI interaction, but secondly, because it could switch between VIVE/OpenVR and Oculus headset use. Or … that was the hype.

Now, we see how it plays out.

Keep in mind that VRTK development stopped being developed for over a year, but then just in April 2018 Oculus funded it to continue. This is good news, but I don’t think it’s been updated yet for the latest Unity. But that’s partly why I’m still running Unity v. 2017.1.1f1.

More evidence to support this article:

Why You Should Use VRTK as your SDK

So, what do you have to do, once you’ve installed VRTK in order to activate the Oculus so it will work?


First, I just exported one scene of our game, Fantabula, to try the Oculus SDK in. Right now, Fantabula is running in OpenVR / SteamVR and compatible with the VIVE, using VRTK SDK. There are 5 scenes (including our own credit scene–that’s right–a separate scene for our credits, but I didn’t want to complicate this (more than it is). See our article:.

Lareena’s Amazing Credits Room


We had tried it previously and had some trouble, mostly doing the build. This took an incredibly long time and at first we thought this had been caused by the Oculus SDK so we took it out. But it took the same amount of time to build without it, so I concluded that it wasn’t the fault of the Oculus SDK.


Hence, the decision to try again.

The other hesitation is that I’m a VIVE user, as is Carolyn. I don’t have the Oculus, and Carolyn had an old version without working controllers. So, debugging would be extra difficult. But we decided to call for some help trying it out, using Reddit.




Those who helped us try it out said that it was working for them.

Here is the process I used to get it working on both platforms.


Just to make sure I had the latest VRTK and SteamVR, I deleted those and reinstalled them. I had to make a few adjustments to my scene (I had chosen “Kezaria” for this) in order to make it work as a standalone scene.


I used the following VRTK tutorial to help me install the Oculus SDK.








This involves going to the Oculus site and downloading two packages, first the Oculus OVR and secondly, the OVR Avatar SDK. In the above tutorials, he says that it’s not compatible with the latest version of those packages and suggests an earlier version. However, the tutorial was over a year ago, so I decided to go with the latest of each and hope those bugs had been ironed out. And so far, it seems to be working. If you try it and run into trouble, try dialing it back to the recommended version.



The first time I imported these Oculus OVR / Avatar. I got a sh@t ton of errors, most of them seemingly linked to the Oculus “Samples” folder. So I deleted it, and the errors vanished. Voila!



Please note, I’m using VRTK to build the player in all these scenes and it is the backbone of using both the VIVE/OpenVR along with the Oculus together in one app. You can enjoy the magic of this yourself by downloading “VRTK” from the Unity Asset store. Then check out all the detailed tutorials beginning with:

Teleporting 001: The Basics




Also, please note that I am using an older version of Unity, namely: v. 2017.1.1f1.

I’ve been designing this game for over a year and we worried that updating might bring about more incompatibilities (especially since we were using VRTK and for awhile they had stopped development), so we decided to wait until we finished this game. So, things might go differently with a newer version of Unity.



I looked under the VRTK_SDKManager that I’d set up and saw that Oculus was not “enabled”. I went to BuildSettings, then PlayerSettings and added Oculus to the VirtualReality SDK’s. I put this first, figuring that, after all, this was the Oculus version. I made a build and … it didn’t work. I went back to troubleshoot. I discovered that my “SDKSetupSwitcher” had been disabled, so I clicked that back on. Also, I went back in and read some about the problem via the internet. Found a helpful article that said that “OpenVR” must be first in the list. Then I reordered it, and–presto–it worked!






The setup for the Oculus will need to be finessed a bit. Either you need to add an “OculusVR” VRTK setup, or, if you did like I do (lazily copy the setup from the Sample scenes of VRTK) then you will need to go back to the Sample scenes (for some reason this works) copy out just the “OculusVR” portion (under “VRTK_SDKManager/SDKsetup” and delete the corresponding one in your scene and replace it with the new one. This fixed my problems.


Now, it was ready to try out. So I uploaded it for Carolyn.



So, the first build we did: Carolyn fell to her death. Her avatar started somewhere in the sky and fell infinitely down. So, back to the drawing board.


I’ve had this problem before and checked the “OculusVR” piece of the “SDKSetup”. Sure enough, it was at the edge of my map, instead of in the center, where my “SteamVR” setup had been placed. Make sure that the “OculusVR” and the “SDKSetup” transform are both set to 0,0,0. “OculusVR” is a child of “SDKSetup” and that is a child of “VRTK_SDKManager” and that one is set to the exact location in the game that you want.


When I repositioned it and tried again–Carolyn survived!


When you go to build the program, double check the Build Settings / Player Settings and make sure “OpenVR” is at the top, because, for some stupid reason, “None” keeps repopulating at the top. I hate that. Always check it.


We ended up building each scene separately then doing it together as a whole because once you’ve built the scene, it goes much faster the second time. Also, we deleted our library prior to doing either of those things, just to have a fresh version.


Once we did all those things and uploaded it to and linked that to the Reddit page, we got responses saying that it did work, which was very gratifying.

The Monster
The Monster


This is the VIVE only version


KEZARIA ON ITCH.IO         (Oculus & VIVE)

This is the Oculus version, but it should also work with the VIVE. That remains to be tested, and much more testing will need to take place before we get too complacent that our work has been done.

Try out our program, and let us know what you think — we are eager for feedback!





Keyframe Animation

Climbing Scene

The rhino model that Lareena added to the Climbing Tutor scene had a running-rhino animation. However, the rhino only ran in place, as if it were a character in a Scooby-Doo episode.

From what I could tell, animation components placed inside the model’s folder, the animation components seem to be read-only. Don’t tell me–I’ll figure out how to do animation layers and masks the right way when I study animation more in depth to prepare for the next app. Simple now, elegant later.

For right now, I puzzled out a solution, in a similar way to the puzzles in the “Breath of the Wild” game that is feeding my game addiction this week.

So here it is:

Create an empty. I named mine RhinoPath.

Click on GameObject and create a new animation. (Not Animator)

I named mine RunRunRhino.


Add an Animation component (Not animator component) to RhinoPath.

Add the animation RunRunRhino to the animation component.  I added the animation name to both blank fields.  I don’t know why it’s needed twice; I will figure that out before next project.

So right now, if I were to start keyframing, the rhino would still run in place. However, an invisible component would be racing around the lawn.

Next, then, is to make sure RhinoPath has the same Position Coordinates as Rhino. It’s dummyproofing the parenting — I know they will be in the same position.

Make Rhino a parent of RhinoPath.

Leave the Root Node checkbox on the rhino model OFF. That’s because the model is going to follow its parent, not the other way round.

Open the Animation pane to set up keyframing.

Click on “Add Properties”, Position and Rotation. We’re not going to make it get bigger and smaller, so don’t need “Scale.”

Get rough points on the Position keys first.

Estimate the points where you want the rhino to run, scrub the timeline cursor, moved the RhinoPath object, click on the Position keyframe, then click on Add Keyframe.

Hit play on the Animation timeline (NOT the Scene play) and see if it moves to the place you want it to go.





Fantabula up on!

Spiders are everywhere!
The Monster
The Monster


After much sorrow and tribulation in trying to build our game, finally, we have succeeded. (Maybe we should have tried all along to do a “build”). We kept getting stuck on sharedassets0.assets and had to abort.

Finally, we built each scene separately. Then built the whole thing together. Still took a lot of time, but much faster. We had some errors, but by and large the game seems to work normally.

Come try it out and let us know what you think!

We welcome suggestions, complaints and radical ideas!

There will be updates to follow, and eventually, we plan to post the game on Steam!

Can you dodge all the monsters? Give it a try!

Spiders are everywhere!
Beware the spiders!

Lareena gets a 360 Camera!


For a long time, I’ve been coveting a great 360 video camera. That long awaited day has come!

After much agonizing and study, I’ve picked a nice semi-pro camera that will work for us and we backpack through Europe (coming soon)! I bought a GoPro Fusion. It has a reputation for good resolution (that looks even better than the numbers suggest) and also good color correction, night footage and image stabilization.


(But didn’t realize it was on)


In my living room, I test the Gopro Fusion out, using the iPad app to control it.


I walk all the way around the camera. You can notice the stitching a little, but i was impressed with how good it was!


I walked down the street, holding the GoPro Fusion above my head, to see how bumpy it got. A little bumpy, you can tell I’m taking steps but fairly good! I’m satisfied.

I’m happy with my GoPro Fusion camera, but still more tests to come!


Why You Should Use VRTK as your SDK


Because it’s brilliant, that’s why. Also, it can support a wide variety of formats the most important (for me) being VIVE and Oculus. These were the two main platforms that we wanted to come out on.

Once I learned to create a world in Unity, I couldn’t rest until I’d looked at it in my new VIVE headset. I was hooked! I wanted more. I wanted to move around in my world. And that was a little trickier.

I was a beginner to Unity and programming. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried tutorial after tutorial. Usually, I’d get stuck along the way because it didn’t work for me the way the tutorials did.

Then I learned about SteamVR and I got excited. It took awhile to figure out how to put the camera in the scene and get it working, nominally. But I was very excited.

Another tutorial show me that all I needed all along was to drop the “Player” into the scene (and also the “Teleportation” element). Wow, it worked! Now in order to teleport, all I had to do was add a teleport point to any place I wanted to go. Or to put down a teleport plane onto surfaces I wanted to walk across.

But after awhile, it got tedious. I’d put down a path of teleport points and they wouldn’t be close enough together. I had to fuss with them.

Then my co-conspirator Carolyn called and said forget SteamVR. Download VRTK. And I was like “Oh no, not *another* system. I just got SteamVR figured out!” So, I downloaded it and watch maybe one or two tutorials on how to build the VRTK SDK’s and *boom* I was off and running.



Steps you through how to set up the SDK for SteamVR using VRTK.

VRTK Website:

No need to put down those teleport points or teleport planes. I could go anywhere! It was a sudden freedom of movement.

So friendly. So easy. I think I was in love.

And other interactions were easy, like climbing. (I went a little crazy with climbing). There was even a tutorial to convert that first person shooter project. Nice. All I had to do was find a bunch of useful monsters and substitute them for the ones in the original, build a world and implement it all over again. (Okay, not super easy, but I did it).


I went through all the sample scenes, of which there are many, and found a ton of useful methods that gave me a lot of control over the interactions with the environment. You can create a gun holster, ziplines, throw things, use a sword! Lots more!


So, if it’s so great, why did I keep one scene in my game with SteamVR instead of VRTK?

Well, it was the bow.

I loved the SteamVR bow; it’s awesome! (You know, the one from the Lab?) Also, early on, I’d done a tutorial where I learned to make it spawn on the player’s back and return there. Pretty cool.

Try as we might, we just couldn’t get the VRTK bow to work in a way we liked. We called it the “Sausage bow” because in the tutorial, it was made of little links. So, in the Skyway scene, we kept SteamVR instead of VRTK. Still need to sort out a decent bow to use in VRTK. (Email me if you know how).

Here’s Eddie Balderas‘s tutorial on setting up the SteamVR bow to spawn on the player’s back.


Then I heard the sad news that the developer, thestonefox  ( was no longer developing it and I felt a little crushed. Still, he was maintaining the SDKs, so I kept using them, hoping to get through with the game before it became obsolete.

But then I heard the good news: VRTK and theStoneFox is back in business! Apparently funded by Oculus. Yay! Good news. I wasn’t keen to learn a whole new system, though I suppose in the ever-changing world of VR, it’s inevitable at some point.

Just not today.


Lareena’s Amazing Credits Room

Me: “We need to credit the asset creators.”

Lareena: “Okay.”

I didn’t want to be like the company which put out the Adventure game:

I was thinking we should at least list the credits with a prominent link.

Lareena, however, has gone all-out:


Lareena’s amazing credits room for Fantabula

Dang.  Lareena did good.

Wonder if she put an Easter Egg anywhere in this rogue’s gallery.


(Colossal Cave Adventure on the Dec 10, in 1979, was my second ever computer game. First was Pong, in the lobby of the theater showing Star Wars. 1977. Lots of credits in the Star Wars movie, but none in Pong.)










RECROOM is available on Steam.

Works with VIVE, Oculus, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Tired of first person shooters? Want to try virtual laser tag and paintball? This is your game!

They have an awesome laser tag and paintball section. You play against other real players, so it’s challenging. Some of them are very good. Everyone is automatically assigned a team, but you can switch teams before the game starts.

If people are rude or vulgar, there’s a great system for kicking people from the game. I’ve never had much trouble from other players in RecRoom.

Adding other friends is easy. There are other games, like ping pong, dodge ball and soccer (but I didn’t like those as well).

Also, the laser tag / paintball games are short, like 8 minutes, so I can play even if I don’t have a lot of time. You don’t have to play all night (but you *could*).

My video is mostly of the laser tag, my favorite part.


The other fun feature in RecRoom is their Create a Room feature. You can use almost unlimited creativity in putting together a room. They provide 3d objects to put in it, as well as a paint-gun similar to Tiltbrush to decorate with. The rooms can be private or public. And you can make your own paintball or tag game.

Some rooms I’ve visited: a huge ship in the sky, a giant dragon, an archery game (with no apparent rules), a forest.

It’s all good fun. Try it out!