Night at the Museum
As part of my coursework in the VR nanodegree at Udacity, I designed, tested and iterated a VR mobile experience using the Google Cardboard. This one is a little different because it is an experience of experiences! I focused on a company here in Ottawa, Canada — SimWave Consulting to show how their work brings VR technology into education. The experience includes 5 viewing stations that showcases 5 of their innovations; Vimy Ridge, CN-6400 Steam Locomotive VR Experience, 3D Interactive Theater, Royal Canadian Regiment WW1 VR Experience, and the Elemental Booth.
An important design consideration was to create it such that everything is in front of the player and is still clearly visible. Another consideration was to design the room to be life-sized so the player doesn’t feel too small or too large. Lastly, simulator sickness was considered and minimized by limiting the movement of the user and keeping everything in front of the camera.
The project was successful because of the continuous iterative process used through out its development to consistently improve game play — when I added a new feature, I built and user-tested before moving on. For user-testing, I included people who are familiar with a VR headset.
Statement of Purpose: Night at the Museum is a mobile VR experience targeted towards new and seasoned VR users that showing them just how applicable virtual reality could be to other industries.
Remember Eve? She was used once again as my persona when working on this project (if you don’t, please see my Puzzler story). Eve is a 21-year-old university student who knows little about VR. Eve is a free spirit who is always interested in trying new things. Eve always says “Life’s too short.”, and so she lives in the moment.
Here are some of the sketches I used to lay the groundwork for the design of this project.
Testing the scene and atmosphere
The user I tested this project with is familiar with VR. I had only designed the room at this point so the user was testing the scale, mood and any other interesting features. When asked about scene, the user felt small, like the ground was at the waist level, he felt like the room was supposed to feel industrial, but the walls and ceiling did not match the mood. The scene was a closed room, and there was nothing out of sight.
Testing the UI elements
The second test that was conducted was to see if the Introductory and Tutorial UIs were comfortably sized, whether they are self-explanatory and if they work well. At this point, when clicked, the camera would zoom forward toward the center of the room. The feedback I got was that they were big, but not uncomfortable and the user did not have to strain to see the words. Also, the user knew what to do without any instructions from me and could confirm that the buttons worked.
Testing motion throughout the scene
The third test was conducted to see if the user felt comfortable during the movement though the room. The user noted that there was no problem moving through the room — it was neither too fast nor slow for the distance moved. When asked if he experienced any nausea or headaches he responded with a “no”. It was noted that the font felt a bit blurry, so I increased the dynamic pixel unit for the canvases.
Testing final game mechanics
The fourth and final test was conducted to test the game mechanics. When asked about the game, to the user it felt “exploratory”, like he was in a museum. Again, he noted that he did not feel any simulator sickness when playing.
Break down of the final piece
The final design of the game is included as screenshots taken with a Nexus 5 below. At the start of the game, the user is faced with the Introductory UI and moved forward to meet the Tutorial UI when the Google VR reticle is pointed at the start button and the trigger pressed. Ahead of that is the 5 stations where each floating panel can be clicked to show more information about the corresponding experience accompanied by relevant sound effects. After all the stations have been viewed, the user then clicks the table at the center to restart the scene.
Overall, Night at the Museum is a simple mobile VR experience tailored to showcase just how diverse virtual reality can be and is already becoming. It demonstrates the power audio and visual cues and how combined, they can literally take you to another place.
For future development, Night at the Museum could include even more examples of how VR is changing our world.
Link to additional work