On May 21st 2019 facebook released their new VR headset called Oculus Quest. They had only just announced a very strict curation for their store so 2 days later I launched SideQuest ( sideloading on Oculus Quest ) which allows developers to get their apps into the eager hands of VR users who are starved for content. To date we are the only 3rd party content platform second only to the main store by facebook.

Fast forward 12 months, we have exploded to 290K monthly active users and our launcher application has just passed 1 million downloads across all versions. Needless to say this is the biggest accomplishment of my life and I'm hugely proud to help push this new technology forward.

To celebrate I spent the last week building a relaxing experience designed to help keep you from going crazy during lockdown. The game is called BlanketWorks ( shameless plug ) - https://twitter.com/SideQuestVR/status/1263534205167964162?s=19 and it lets you build blanket forts in VR with some relaxing music for free. It was inspired by re-watching community on netflix recently as well as increasing cabin fever from being stuck at home.

That's my story! I hope you like it!

Comments: 97 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

Damo900140 karma

Where would you like to see Sidequest in a year? Features, plans, pie in the sky ideas

BTW congrats and thanks for creating a way for lesser known Indies to get some sunlight since Facebook's garden walls are getting taller and more shady.

shakamone23 karma

We are pretty excited about the plans going forward, facebook just announced $100M in game sales revenue in the first year which is amazing for devs who are on the fence about VR. We are focused on adding more value for developers and we see ourselves as the TestFlight of virtual reality. We have become known as the starting point for developers to gather feedback and prove their concept. I am doing everything i can to live up to that expectation.

Damo90017 karma

Maybe you'll see my game up on SideQuest. Here's hoping it won't get denied for Quest (but I haven't bothered pitching)

shakamone6 karma

We would love to see it up there! I'm here to help any time you need me! Thanks for pioneering on this new frontier!

microchipgnu14 karma

Hey Shane, awesome to see you doing an AMA. As a fellow SideQuester I can’t thank you enough for your work over the past year.

Quick question: I’ve see you announcing BlanketWorks. Do you plan on having more SideQuest titles coming? Have you thought of open sourcing a game, where developers from SQ can help build?

shakamone8 karma

Hmm these are some really interesting ideas! Id love to chat in more detail about what you have in mind! With blanketworks I have used some paid assets to achieve it, but we could possibly come up with some other ideas!

As regards SideQuest releasing regular titles, this is really just a fun experiment to celebrate our birthday. I do hope we can be involved in or even run some future game jams because its a great way to get people involved.

Bridgebrain2 karma

Maybe do a once a year birthday release each year? Add other holiday specials as you come up with them

shakamone2 karma

That sounds like a lovely tradition. If anyone asks, ill tell them it was your idea.

underboob4207 karma

Where do you see vr in 20 years?

shakamone15 karma

I see VR and AR becoming as ubiquitous as smart phones are today or even more so since they can be always on. They will replace smart phones, tvs, computers in the sense that all these devices can be replaced by virtual versions driven by cloud based infrastructure like shadow PC or similar.

underboob4206 karma

Great response and food for thought! Thanks so much

shakamone3 karma

thank you!

reformedpickpocket5 karma

Oculus for Business finally opened up yesterday. Any plans on entering the Enterprise or Education markets in the future? Or will you be sticking with games?

shakamone3 karma

Im not opposed to enterprise in the sense that there are already a few enterprise apps using sidequest for distribution mainly, but Oculus for Business is a whole suite of tools to make enterprise use much easier. Our focus with be on helping developers test during the early stages of development.

Piratesfan023 karma

Congratulations!! That’s really awesome!! I was planning on downloading SideQuest this weekend. Do you have any suggested apps that I should download besides your blanket fort?

shakamone6 karma

Its hard to say there are so many now! Click "browse" at the top and anything on that first page is pretty amazing tbh. I love hyperdash, hand physics lab is a look at the future. Pavlov is a show stopper. Virtual desktop opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Deisim and tea for god are a must!

Piratesfan023 karma

Thank you! Congrats again!!!!

shakamone3 karma

Thank you!

DigiMagic2 karma

So what is the current state of VR? A couple of years ago I've tried a headset (I think made by HTC or something like that) from a friend, and it was disappointing: low resolution, large noticeable pixels, tolerable but not really comfortable... Are the headsets nowadays better? If I want to make some content, which 3D camera would you recommend?

shakamone6 karma

Pixels can still be seen if you look hard enough but its definitely better ( Quest is 1440 x 1600 vs the vive at 1080 x 1200 per eye ) The Oculus Quest is much easier to use since its all in one and doesn't require an expensive PC but it also connects to pc for a high end experience. It also has native hand tracking which makes it more compelling. On the comfort front it could do better, but there are counterweights and extra padding that is cheap and fixes that too.

dyarosla2 karma

Where do you see in browser VR going?

shakamone6 karma

I have a huge passion for WebXr stuff, I started out build stuff for VR there. I think it has the power to take this industry to the next level like many on the open web standards before it. We recently started adding browser based experiences to our catalogue for users to try and the feedback has been quite positive.

grumpy_old_git2 karma

Why do you think that headsets that can use mobile devices are not taking advantage of AR?

For example, on my Pixel phone, I can use AR in a few gimmicky ways, but if I could strap it into a headset and see through the camera with AR enabled (in 3D) it would be more engaging. More like a Hololens experience.

shakamone4 karma

The thing is that your phones camera doesnt yet have the capability to project a stereo corrected view of the worlds from a single camera perspective on the back. The quest uses a system called Passthrough to take a feed from the bottom two cameras on the headset, then with some fancy projections it can make it look like the cameras are seeing from your eye positions providing a nearly stereo correct view through. I imagine future devices will have a better implementation again and that will start the whole mixed reality revolution paving the way for much more ubiquitous AR devices in the future, in terms of mass adoption anyway.

Seaguard51 karma

I have always been interested in the possibility of prototyping in VR. I also no next to nothing about VR technology so sorry in advance if my questions sound stupid.

Does VR support blender and if not is there any other 3D program that it does support?

shakamone2 karma

This is in no way a stupid question, its something a lot of people are interested in.

The answer is, very soon: https://www.roadtovr.com/blender-vr-support-openxr/

Seaguard51 karma

I see. Thank you, although it does seem sad to me that we are only now beginning to model in 3D with VR. This is 2020 for crying out loud, we should have had this yesterday IMO.

shakamone2 karma

I agree! Although maya and unity have in vr workflows, and there are quite a few VR sculpting apps like medium, tiltbrush, masterpiece vr to name a few. I think the blender folks are holding out for the open standard which makes most sense its terms of maximum value.

I_SUCK__AMA1 karma

Is facebook censoring the app store? What was the need for sideloading?

shakamone1 karma

They curate the app store quite strictly yes making it hard for a lot of devs to reach users, and thats where we come in.

Yoshara1 karma

So I have an Oculus Rift, can I still use Sidequest?

shakamone1 karma

Im afraid not no, we only work with quest right now.

Egdeltur1 karma

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA and building SideQuest!

VR has gone through multiple hype cycles throughout it's history (notably big VC/BigCo investment between 2015-17) that slowed down as adoption has taken longer than expected.

Do you feel Quest has restarted/accelerated the VR adoption cycle (if you can add to your growth metrics above) and what is preventing broader/faster adoption by devs (esp large studios)?

shakamone2 karma

I think quest is a really compelling device and stands the most chances of doing more good than bad for mass adoption - what i mean by that is that devices google cardboard, gear vr, daydream and oculus go dont offer a good enough experience and leave a bad impression with a lot of people. The quest is the first device to come close to that point of affordability of standalone with the engagement of high end vr. It still has issues with comfort and design but those problems dont feel that big compared to the issues its already solved.

As regards faster adoption by devs, its a cat vs mouse situation with users wanting content and devs wanting users but i hope that Oculus and sidequest both do their part in enabling discovery in the ecosystem.

intelligent_chimp1 karma

What would you advise to people who are interested in building in(apps) VR but don't know where to start?

shakamone1 karma

I would suggest starting with Unity and looking into the Unity XR Interaction Toolkit. It makes it very easy to work with lots of devices at the same time with just a single interface and provides a frame work for basic interaction.

Depending on what kind of app( or game ) you want to build you may also want to look at something like the MRTK which is a collection of prebuilt buttons, sliders, toggles and other interactions that make it easy to start putting the pieces together for some kind of application.

That's just my two cents on a good place to start with apps.

SchwiftyGameOnPoint1 karma

Is SideQuest able to be used or connected to other (Not Oculus Quest) PC connected VR headsets or are there plans to make a version that can be?

shakamone2 karma

Currently our stack works with android based headsets but the quest dominates the consumer space on that front right now. As for desktop there are already tonnes of discovery options from steamvr, viveport, epic store and oculus too so i think we might stick to the android space for now. Who knows in the future though!

looe31 karma

Hey, congratulations, there are so many hidden gems on SideQuest!

Recently I just interviewed a VR game dev for my blog and his motivation is mostly for the learning experience, so the game is not monetized.

What's your motivation behind starting this game? And how do you plan to sustain it in the future?

shakamone2 karma

This game was mainly intended to be a fun experiment to celebrate our birthday but id like to see how people engage and decide to continue pushing it if people like it. It has only taken about a week so far to complete so its not a huge investment yet - its kinda perfect that way.

Thank you!

drunkandy1 karma

Would it be possible to build a Sidequest client that runs on the Quest itself, with no PC required (after setting it up the first time)?

shakamone5 karma

I'm afraid Oculus explicitly prevent this in their TOS. A desktop client has its benefits though, and we have set it up so you can remote control it over wifi so it can work from inside the headset in those scenarios - best of both.

ladydovahkyyn1 karma

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shakamone6 karma

Ah it wasn't really fighting I Guess, it took a while at first but they came around to the benefits of embracing indie developers. We have a great relationship with them now and I think they see a lot of value in what we do.

Glad you find it beneficial!

duxs1 karma

[deleted]

shakamone2 karma

We do not allow pornography, but we are pretty liberal otherwise. I don't think Oculus have any issue with games that include violence, there are certainly some that are on there that already have a lot of violence including dismemberment.

As regards paid games, we have lots of paid games on SideQuest.

duxs1 karma

[deleted]

shakamone1 karma

Hmm thats interesting, I had assumed as they accepted this title from sidequest onto the official store. https://www.reddit.com/r/OculusQuest/comments/dx94go/sun_shard_coming_to_the_oculus_quest_store/

I guess they are being liberal with it to some degree right now.

TizardPaperclip1 karma

I quite like the basic Quest hardware, but I strongly dislike the surveillance systems that Facebook has built in to it.

Is it possible for me to buy a brand-new Quest and set it up in such a way that I never have to connect it to any of Facebook's domains, and never be subjected to surveillance?

Also, is your alternative storefront free of all intrusive surveillance technologies?

shakamone2 karma

As regards the quest, i know it works offline ok so i guess that means you can stop any telemetry. As regards sidequest, we jump through hoops to protect user privacies and are always looking for ways to reduce or remove any third party tracking. For instance, we disabled large portions of google analytics that involved any correlation with data from other google products. We only get a high level view on our users as a result but we don't think that demograpic data like age groups, genders and interests is essential for us to provide a good platform so we just dont do it.

TizardPaperclip1 karma

So I could buy a brand new Quest, take it out of the box, never give it any internet connection information, and I could still sideload SideQuest, and install games bought from your store?

Or to put it another way, I could spend a year playing offline Quest games via your store without even once giving the Quest network access of any kind?

shakamone2 karma

I believe you may have to connect it to the internet to enable dev mode so completely offline from day one may not be possible.

TheSinningRobot1 karma

Just recently got the quest, and I can't wait to play around with sidequest this weekend.

Any recommendations for good apps to really take advantage of the freedom the quest provides? I really underestimated how nice it would feel to no longer be tethered coming from the rift, so really want to get the most out ofnit

shakamone2 karma

The absolute best game for this is Tea For God - it simply cannot be played on a wire the same as it can wireless.

The game uses non-euclidean ( like portals in the game Portal ) and several mechanisms to keep you within your available tracking space. This means you don't use artificial locomotion like teleport or joystick movement and instead have to physically walk around your space.

Another title that makes use of this technique very well is Out Or Dead.

fc3sbob1 karma

Hey! I really love sidequest.

I just wish that apps could live in the regular menu's with an icon besides "Unknown Sources". That's my only comment because the app is so good. I assume you have no control over that though?

shakamone3 karma

Unfortunately not, we do hope that can improve in future though. They did recently make it easier to access so we hope there will be more improvements there - https://twitter.com/SideQuestVR/status/1262680087658467328?s=19

Icons would really top it off.

em_effin_short1 karma

Can you explain "early adopter?" How long have you been in VR? How has usability improved in that time?

shakamone2 karma

The last generation of headsets were all driven by powerful PCs and were tricky to setup and expensive to buy. The quest is much better because its an affordable all-in-one wireless headset. You can just throw it on and you are ready to go - this is a huge part of its success.

freshprinceIE1 karma

Hey! Funny, I was just talking to my partner about getting a VR headset yesterday but they are just so expensive! And even when I find one that looks more reasonable at $250, reviews say that 3DOF is no good?!

What would you reccomend for someone to first test the waters with VR without blowing big bucks? I have a powerful PC, and a PS4. Should I try find a standalone headset? Something for my PC? What do you reccomend?

Would be mostly used for games. Would like to play things like Pavlov and VR chat.

shakamone1 karma

It honestly sounds like quest would offer the most value there. Indeed 3dof is only entertaining for a short while and you will get bored of doing anything except watching movies. 6dof is a whole new level.

The quest is compelling because you can connect it to the pc with a cable or over wireless ( both sold separately for $80 and $20 respectively ) which means its a PC headset when you want high end and you can take it with you when you go out too - its the nintendo switch of VR headsets. It also has native hand ( finger ) tracking now so you can experiment with more natural input. We added hand tracking support to blanketworks since it made things feel more organic.

freshprinceIE1 karma

Thanks for the response! Even at that Oculus Quests are around 600 euro where I live, so I guess I'll have to hold off!

Kemuel1 karma

Hello! Thanks for all the awesome work. I'm new to the Quest scene, but am already loving Sidequest.

Wondering what your thoughts are on the safety/risk of using modded Beatsaber content, emulators, or other things you probably wouldn't want to host? I seem to remember reading somewhere that some modding apps were taken off of Sidequest fairly recently due to a new FB policy?

I totally get why you'd want to take absolutely zero chances with your platform, but from your experiences coexisting with FB, do you think individuals are at much risk of repercussions?

shakamone1 karma

This is a tricky one, but in my honest opinion I think facebook are more concerned right now with the impact of piracy on an emerging ecosystem - we also take this seriously. What i can say is we once had a direct integration with a piece of software called BeatOn which enabled modding of beat saber but that was discontinued by the developer himself and was not prompted by Oculus/Facebook. We removed support because it no longer worked as beat saber was updated and have since gone more in the direction if supporting game & app developers. I can also tell you that Oculus haven't banned anyone to date afaik.

TheAlbinoShadow0 karma

Why do you think you're an early adopter? You absolutely are not.

shakamone0 karma

I tend to get new tech as soon as its available. That's the definition of the term.

TheAlbinoShadow1 karma

But in this case you missed the mark by... many years.

shakamone0 karma

sure

TheAlbinoShadow1 karma

Thanks for agreeing. Sorry to ruin it for you.

shakamone0 karma

sure

Edit: u mad?