Puzzler Project Write-Up

INTRODUCTION

Statement of Purpose

Puzzler is a VR app for new VR users with intuitive user goals and actions which provide a modest challenge and a fun sense of accomplishment by way of an easily understood game format.

Project Description

The project is a small game. The scenario is that of a dungeon-like building into which the user is transported after selecting a “Start” button. It is the task of the game player to select a collection of “Magic Orbs” in a sequence identical to that which is presented to him.

Part of the scenario is the inclusion of lighting and sound effects which reinforce the dungeon-like atmosphere of the scene. If the player fails to select the Orbs in the prescribed sequence, a somewhat louder and jarring tone is presented and the presentation of the selected Orbs is repeated and he must make another attempt to repeat the sequence.

The player must complete the sequence successfully or he has no escape from the dark, spookily-illuminated, dungeon-like building.

Once the player selects the Orbs correctly, he is transported out of the building and presented with a “Restart” button that transports him back to the beginning and allows him to repeat the game play.

Persona (Target Audience)

Name: Joe.

Age: high school, freshman or sophomore.

Occupation: fast food.

Quote: “whoa, man!”

Motivations: likes tech. likes girls. thinks fast.

VR Experience: minimal

DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING

Rough Sketch of Puzzler Concept

Puzzler with Orbs and Lighting (Phone Screen Capture)

First User Test

Questions:

1) Talk to me about the objects you see in the scene.

2) Talk to me about the atmosphere of the scene.

3) Talk to me about the scene, in general.

Subject Response:

Objects were identifiable.

The environment was “small and dark,” and in general, “it was like in a tower.”

Puzzler User Interface (Sketches and Phone Screen Capture)

Start Panel

Restart Panel

User Test of User Interface

Questions:

1) Talk to me about the objects you see in the scene.

2) What do you imagine their purpose(s) to be?

3) What do you see when you operate the buttons?

Subject Response:

Five items were counted. They “looked like volleyballs.”

Their purpose was thought to be “to hold something up.”

The tester entered the building, clicked again to exit to the “Restart”

billboard and then clicked the button to return to the “Start” billboard

NOTE: Due to a bad file, User Tests for User Interface (above) and Motion (below) were combined into a single test using the two questionnaires, as shown.

User Test for Motion

a) Alert tester to possibility of motion sickness. Stop test immediately if it happens.

Questions:

1) Talk to me about the motion you experienced (too fast, too slow, straight line, bumpy, smooth)?

2) Was it comfortable? Any discomfort?

Subject Response:

The motion did induce dizziness.

As for comfort, the subject made an interesting comment: “After you don’t look at it, you feel different.”

Video of Complete Project, Illustrating Motion and Playing the Game

YouTube: https://youtu.be/fWTXlHuhd_I


Final User Test

1) Talk to me about the experience of playing the game.

2) What did you like? What would you change?

Tester Response:

The tester commented that she had to “get used to” moving her head to select the object to click on.

The tester commented that she liked the changing colors and stated, “I wouldn’t change anything.”

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, the game seems to be acceptable.

A small game like this is an appropriate size for a beginner project. In fact, I see this one project as being useful within a larger project. It has several features (user interaction, motion, lighting, sound and game objects) which would seem to lend themselves to a modular implementation in a larger project.

Challenges encountered in the making of the game were 1) The design of the dungeon-like building, starting from a partial prototype, 2) the creating of an appropriate atmosphere by the way of lighting and sound, 3) the use of the GoogleVR utility package for Cardboard.

The first two challenges were met, essentially, by experimentation and trial and error (building shape and size, the intensity of color of lighting and appropriate choice and suggestive localization of sound effects).

The GoogleVR package was found to be inscrutable. The recommended package (v. 1.60.0) was not the same as in the instructional videos and assistance from the instructional staff was not forthcoming. I cobbled together a kind of hybrid use of the standard Unity modules and the GoogleVR modules. The meeting of this particular challenge was informative. The result was acceptable and better than anticipated.

As for testing, on two occasions, the subject was overheard to say the experience is “neat.” and her supervisor, who was gracious enough to allow me to use about 15 minutes of her time while at work, commented on her enthusiastic response.

No changes were implemented as a result of the tester’s feedback (nor were any suggested by the tester), however one possible change would be to adjust the “Start” and “Restart” billboards. Their present locations can be a bit inconvenient if the orbs are selected in at least one particular sequence. Adjusting the camera position to point directly at the existing billboards would also solve this problem.

I feel the good reception is due mostly to the technology and its novelty. A user would probably tire quickly with an extended experience that induces the “dizziness” noted during user testing. This kind of problem for VR is common and is known to be a complex interplay of perception, device frame rate and an individuals’ susceptibility to motion sickness.