Painless porting of Walkabout Mini Golf to SteamVR with FarBridge Worlds
FarBridge is a game studio based in Austin, TX. Founded in 2017, our team has years of experience creating games and immersive experiences for a wide array of platforms and audiences. We’ve shipped over 30 SKUs on 20 different game platforms and VR headsets.
It’s time to grab your friends and hit the course — Mighty Coconut’s Walkabout Mini Golf is now available on SteamVR and finally playable on your Valve Index, HTC Vive, and WindowsMR headsets, along with the Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest! We couldn’t be more excited to help make this game available on more platforms for everyone to enjoy. The entire process was made possible in large part by our in-house technology, FarBridge Worlds — as well as some pivots we had to make due to working remotely.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lucas Martell, Director & Owner at Mighty Coconut, on previous projects at FarBridge over the last couple of years. In that time, Lucas had been making Walkabout Mini Golf, and the game was well received by the community. (Who could blame them? I’m a real sucker for golf games and really enjoy playing the game myself!)
Walkabout Mini Golf initially launched on the Oculus store for the Rift and the Quest, and Lucas wanted to open the game up to a broader audience by putting it on Steam. Knowing we’ve done this type of work before, Lucas reached out to us to see if we could take the existing game and get it ready to launch as its own app on Steam. It was important to all of us that we also make it compatible with the existing community on the Oculus platforms — so everyone could play with their friends from day one.
FarBridge was able to turn around the port quickly thanks to FarBridge Worlds. FarBridge Worlds is the culmination of all the software we’ve had to make for ourselves over the last few years — making the development and ports of games for PC, console, mobile, and VR/AR easier for ourselves and our partners. Every platform has its own technical demands: SDKs, controllers, and submission requirements. This is especially true for virtual reality devices — as each headset has different controllers, with different buttons, joysticks, trackpads, and form factors. We’ve worked really hard to make FarBridge Worlds our secret weapon to easily adapt between all of these platforms’ varying needs.
Our team also comes with an expansive background of developing and shipping games, so we’re familiar with the build submission and release process for multiple store platforms. We’ve put that knowledge into FarBridge Worlds, which allows us to create many platform-specific builds simultaneously, and deploy them to their respective storefronts automatically.
Did the pandemic affect this process?
With Walkabout Mini Golf, we had to move core components of our pipeline to the cloud to accommodate our remote teams. When we started working from home, our team was no longer able to share builds from the convenience of a shared network, and testing was a slow and frustrating process. To alleviate this, we created new build machines in a secure cloud environment. This gave us the ability to not only work efficiently as a distributed team, but also makes it just as easy for our artists, designers, producers, and partners to access and test our builds.
Quick access to builds helps tremendously speed up the entire development process for both our team and our partners at Mighty Coconut. It’s really awesome that somebody on the team can make a code or art change on the project, and then we automatically get that change in a playable build on Steam in less than 10 minutes. With VR games especially, it’s most important that everyone test their work in a VR headset. And for a multiplayer game with cross-play, like Walkabout Mini Golf, we have to constantly make sure that our builds are compatible with each other across all of the platforms.
Taking the time to automate these processes always pays off big dividends by the end of a project when everyone is rushing to get things polished and perfected.
We’re excited about all of the new projects and schemes brewing at FarBridge and Mighty Coconut. While we can’t talk about all of them just yet, we’re always looking for ways to improve and expand on our FarBridge Worlds technology to make it easier for us to bring games and experiences to larger audiences all around the world!
April 2022 Update: Since the publishing of this post, Pico has announced a new VR headset, the Neo 3 Link. We’re super excited for this new headset, and happy to share that we helped bring Walkabout Mini Golf to this new platform too! Keep an eye out as the headsets will be launched in a limited way throughout Europe in the coming months.
Learn more about FarBridge on our website.
Taylor Gates is a Lead Developer and Producer at FarBridge. Taylor has led the engineering and production of games and interactive applications supported on over a dozen platforms, including “Walkabout Mini Golf”, “MasterWorks: Journey Through History”, and “My Virtual Armenia.” They are passionate about education technology, accessibility in software, and developing tools that empower other developers.