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Yup, very similar story here. I'd been working on a WebGL engine called Elation Engine since 2011, and when VR hit the scene, I quickly added support for barrel shader and WebSocket tracking, then when WebVR was a thing added support for that as well. Those times were exciting, it felt like indies and hackers were driving the technology, and the possibilities were endless.

I joined Janus in 2016, after Facebook bought my previous employer and fired my team. I'd added support for loading Janus worlds within my engine, which opened it up to normal web browsers, and the team at Janus was excited for the possibilities. It was a great story of how I was able to turn an open source project into a paying job, and people were EXCITED about what we were building! We had investors and users, everything was great!

Fast forward to today. The team is broken and burnt out. Many left when we couldn't secure another round of funding and the paychecks dried up. The code is in a poor state because we kept chasing what platform gatekeepers and potential investors told us THEY wanted to see. The founder and myself both had kids within a month of each other and can no longer work like we used to. One guy's wife left him because he was spending so much time travelling and promoting the project. We have less users than ever, despite our tech being years ahead of what people think is possible. We still pretend like we're a normal healthy happy company, because we still believe in the idea and nobody's going to invest in a company of depressed burnt out people. But now even that fantasy is unsustainable, it's probably time to just give up and get a regular old job.

Of course success was never guaranteed, but what we didn't expect was how we'd just end up shunned and ignored. When A-Frame first launched, they listed Janus as an inspiration, but once they reached some level of success and saw us as competitors, they wrote us out of that history book - literally just removed us from the list of inspirations, but kept other projects like SceneVR (whose author also credits Janus as his inspiration). We've got literally thousands of interconnected worlds people have built which nobody visits or links to, but if someone makes a similar world with A-Frame or Babylon, we're sure to hear all about how great and new and innovative it is.

Modern open source is not the same scene it used to be. I don't know what's next. It's pretty depressing.




I just don't talk about my stuff online that much anymore. I'm still excited by VR, probably more so now than ever now that I have a great job where people really appreciate me. I can do so much better work now. I can actually look at my GitHub commit records and see the timeline.

I try (and often fail) to remember the 90/9/1 rule of online communities. 90% of people are only lurkers. The next 90% (9% of total) of people only comment. It's only 1% of people that create things. It's why I have retreated from taking about my projects online. Literally 99% of the people looking at your project have no idea what it's like to build something.

Stay in touch. You can find my contact info on my website. I might need help in the future.




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