Puzzler a VR project to learn design

Puzzler is a mobile VR application for new VR users which challenges them to solve a familiar type of puzzle in a new way”

As a part of my Udacity’s Virtual Reality Nanodegree degree program, I create a mobile VR game, reading the proposed design, testing, tweaking and documenting it.

Puzzler

The game is 3D puzzle with a “Simon says” mechanic, in where the user is located on a dungeon in where he needs to select orbs in the same order as the game shows at the beginning.

The complete one-minute experience with sound can be watched here: Puzzler

The process

For the creation of the game, some considerations was taken at the beginning, like the target audience and some sketch of how the game will look like.

Persona

To understand better the target audience, a description of a fictional character with face, occupation, motivation and quote was created for helping in the process of setting a picture of the type of user that will be using the game:

Sketch

To visualize in a graphic way what could be the look and feel of the game, a quick sketch was made:

First iteration

Taking the design statement, the persona and the sketch in mind, a first prototype was made with only the environment to be tested by a real user:

First user testing

The game is a short experience, but it was a fun to play from the perspective of the user:

Do you feel smaller or bigger than you are in the real life?

A: I feel a little bit smaller.

Can you see all the objects on the scene comfortably?

A: Not the door behind me.

What is the mood / atmosphere?

A: I feel in a medieval castle basement, like in a calaboose. The dungeon and the barrels seems to be made of some kind of metal.

Additional notes

The player doesn’t know what to do with the orbs, she taught that can be something to juggle with.

Adding the gameplay and adjustments

With the feedback, the dungeon was changed, applying a different set of shaders and illumination, to create less metal-like dungeon and barrels and to distinguish better the orbs from the environment:

Gameplay, menus and sound was added also to create a complete experience.

Break down of Puzzler

1. The experience starts with a menu, in where, additionally to the instructions, the start button has additional forward feedback to be more evident for the user to press on it:

A 3D positioned environmental music is played while the user is outside of the dungeon.

2. Then with a smooth transition, using the VR best practices to avoid the simulator sickness, the user is taken to the interior of the dungeon using linear velocity:

Inside of the dungeon, a different 3D positioned environmental music is played.

3. A sequence of the orbs to be selected is shown to the user:

4. The player is now free to select the orbs, with a sound.

5. If the player selects the wrong order, then a fail sound is played and the game then goes back to the step number 3 of this process.

6. If the player select successfully the orbs order, then is taken forward to leave the dungeon in the next door

7. A menu with a congratulation message is presented to the user, with the option of restarting the game

8. Finally, if the user select the restart option, then is taken smoothly to the start point, going back to the step 1 of this process.

Conclusion

The game is fun to play and can be improved, by:

  • Adding more rooms;
  • Setting a different sound for each orb;
  • Changing the number of orbs / sequence steps to have different difficulty rooms;
  • Creating a text with instructions on the first room if the player doesn’t do nothing after some seconds.