Term 3: Capstone Project

Emotion, a broad topic that left me feeling like I should go in a million directions. I tried my best to stay clear of the obvious head liner emotions , happiness and sadness, and I also wanted it to be genuine so I left the emotion somewhat open to how you played the game.

Stages of Design

With my design I focused on the emotions of confusion. Though this isn’t a primary emotion I feel that my experience gives a lot more to it than just the confusion aspect as you will see when you play.

Step 1: (Main Idea Building)

I started the design process with by looking at the achievements I would need to achieve to get a passing grade as I knew not all of these would fit into a random idea, I instead reversed engineered each achievement from the challenges to the fundamentals until I had an understanding of what the mechanics of my game would need to do. It wasn’t long until I came up with the idea to do a “schizophrenia” inspired player, this was solely based on the ‘empathy’ achievement which made me think of different minorities that people may feel empathetic for and one that I could also simulate in the VR environment. I am aware that my simulation doesn’t come close to what these people experience on their day to day lives and I am not trying to say I understand what they are dealing with, just that after this experience I had a better feel for what it might be like.

I wrote out each achievement and added an idea to it based on what i thought my game would be

Step 2: (Environment and Interactions)

Coming up with environment wasn’t hard as I knew that out of all the models I’ve wanted to create using blender the sheep was in the number one spot and that is how the idea of the person being on the farm came into place. I then thought about what they could do on the farm and the idea came that the ‘voices’ in the persons head would direct them to do horrible tasks and the other ‘voices’ would tell them to do good things. This idea was also brought on by the ‘Diegetic’ achievement which challenged me to not use text prompts to lead my users around.

One by one I came up with ideas and sketches for each and every achievement and at the time I really believed I may be able to achieve them all.

I drew out ideas for all the models i wanted to make

Step 3: (Backtracking and Down Scaling)

I wasn’t far into the research process, where I tried to figure out how I would achieve all of the achievements in the challenge section, when I realized that some of the challenges placed before me were slightly unattainable and by going for them I would risk the sense of the entire experience. These challenges include the ‘Multiplayer’ , ‘Mixed Reality Video’ and later the ‘Compute Shader’.

Multiplayer, wouldn’t have worked for the simple reason that I wanted the player to feel isolated and I didn’t want them to feel like they were making decisions based on other users, as this would make the emotions less vivid.

Mixed Reality Video, The expense to get a green screen was just not in my budget and although I tried to source some cheaper options all of them fell through and I was left with having to leave that one out.

Compute Shader, The pure misery the internet gave me with this one, I did research on research on the language used to code these. I couldn’t find a useful hint anywhere, all the sources I managed to find just showed the ones they made going over the same pipeline diagram they all stole from some unlucky source. None of them sourced their knowledge making it impossible for me to find a good book or documentation site to dive deep into the language and I don’t learn well from one or two examples. I also asked on the Udacity site where they sent me links of the very same resources I had already found at the top of the google search, which was not helpful. So, I gave up on the idea of coding my own after 4 days of trying and failing to get the results I wanted.

Step 4: (Iteration)

The environment and the play style went through so many different iterations it would be tedious to list them out here, but a few of the biggest things that changed was the model of the mountains and pond which where separate at first then I tried to make them one and then because of the teleportation layer I made them separate again. I also iterated the scale quite a bit thanks to the user testing I did and the answers I received. I also changed from trying to solely use my own models and designs to getting some things off the asset store, i.e the trees.

here we see the layout of animation key frames i had for custom hands I made which later I had to remove due to the overly complicated way they had to be synced with the SteamVR system.
Here I changed the sheep as they looked very creepy and silly, you can also see the old trees in this screen shot.

User Testing

Again for this one I did a few of these, almost every day of the building and coding process had an outside user test because I wanted multiple small fixes instead of them finding a bunch of huge things wrong. So instead of typing them all out I will do one that I did about half way through which proved to be very useful in bringing the project together and one I did the day before hand in.

User Test #6

User: A Gamer who plays VR games often and is genuinely more adapted to the controls than I am.

Age: 23

Stage in development: At this point in development all the trees have been changed out for the Unity assets and Teleportation is working as I would expect and the Hands are linked up to preform ‘grow’ and ‘burn’.

Q: If I left you in the game would you know what to do?

A: I could figure it out by smashing a couple of buttons, the controls aren’t intuitive but once you have messed around a bit with your controllers you get the hang of it.

Q: How do you feel in the environment.

A: It is very quite, it needs more ambiance and more movement the birds aren’t enough.

Q: Scale wise do you feel big, small or your normal height?

A: Against the house I feel really big but in the whole map I feel really small and with the trees I feel normal.

Changes Made due to this user test:

I adjusted the scale of the mentioned items, I also found free audio sources and added them to create ambiance in the scene.

User Test #19

User: An older female with a hearing disability in the one ear and with near to no experience with VR besides the one time she user tested a previous project.

Age: 52

Stage in Development: Pretty much done, trying to iron out a few little bugs but all the goals I set out were complete. This user test was purely to see if someone unskilled in VR could feel comfortable with controls and know what to do.

Observation:

The user appears to be using the voices to under stand the capabilities, but due to their lack of knowledge in VR is pressing every button possible and then not focusing on which one does what. I had to tell the user to slow down and press one at a time. This seemed to work and the user was able to complete the experience.

Q: How is the environment?. Is it somewhat realistic?

A: Yes, it feels like I’m on a farm next to a huge waterfall. The sheep are really cute!!

Q: Can you hear the voices fine over the rest of the ambient noise?.

A: Yes I can hear them fine.

Q: Do you feel your normal size inside the environment?

A: Yes, everything around me looks the right height.

Q: Did you feel any emotion when you did the experience?.

A: So many!, I felt sorry for the people who owned the farm that I was burning by accident and I felt happy when I sheered the sheep and I felt confused in the beginning with all the voices telling me what to do. I really do feel for any one living with this as it really over powers your thoughts and you almost want to listen to them.

Changes Made due to this user test:

I didn’t change much after this user test as it was a sign that it might be finished but I did user test on others straight after this and found a couple of bugs that I had to fix.

Going Forward:

Though I am very proud of my final outcome I feel like I might use this project as building block into something greater that I may one day release on the store. I have had so many good ideas and can really see my self using some of my spare time to work on it.

The Final Out Come:

Here are some screen shots of the final project and some videos where you can see game play and the achievements I achieved.

a view of the selection indicator
that same tree with the glow shader I made to show selection
a sheep once it has been shaven

To see the video of the Walkthrough:

To See the Achievements Listed:

The Final Idea Summarized

In short the idea is that you randomly wake up on the middle of a farm that is clearly far from any sort of town , you have voices in your head telling you to do both good and bad things, looking down at your hands you see you have a blue and a red which i hope connects with good and bad. The users then run around completing either good or bad tasks while the voices carry on and on. After a while a key appears and they enter the house to be met by a video of me telling them I know which path they took which should bring on the emotions of guilt or pleased-ness depending on which you did.

Conclusion

Finally I would like to conclude with the fact that this project is but a mere glimmer in my eye of what I had dreamed of creating and I hope to continue on the path of this kind of development. I put a great amount of time and effort into everything in the experience and I really hope you enjoyed it.

Plagiarism

A full description of my plagiarism declarations can be found in the read me of the project a long with a full list of all the achievements I achieved.