How to create a Puzzle VR Game
Since the cardboard was released and with it the ability to use your smartphone as a display for virtual reality experiences, the focus on VR Games is growing.
Let’s say you don’t want to be only a consumer of VR instead you are interested in building your own games for the cardboard, for example a 3D Puzzle Game. This article documents my building process of a VR Puzzle Game for Google Cardboard made with Unity.
The game mechanic is pretty straight forward. As a player you enter a 3D building and need to solve a puzzle. The puzzle as itself is based on five orbs and get randomly highlighted. By selecting the orbs in the right order the player has successfully finished the puzzle.
Julia is 22 years old and works as a Teacher. Her mantra: “I use technology to excel the learning experience in my teaching classes.”
- Wants to educate kids
- Always excited by new technology
- Really busy with studying
Her experience level with Virtual Reality: Beginner.
After lining evaluating the persona with a detailed description I created sketches how the game may look like.
The whole idea was to use five orbs as the main puzzle element inside a building. The player can enter the building and after succeeding he/she will exit the building automatically.
For developing the 3D Puzzle Project I used Unity 5.5.0f3, Google Cardboard SDK and Game Assets provided by Udacity.
During the build process I used the 3D objects in the Dungeon Elements folder and created by mirroring and transforming a 3D building.
This part of the process wasn’t only mandatory it was the foundation for bug fixing and major improvements. By asking the test person different questions I made the following improvements.
User Interface Test
Question: Do you see any interactable elements?
Answer: Yes I see a button but the text is small and therefore hard to read.
Improvements: I changed the font size and rescaled the buttons as well.
Game Mechanic Test
Question: What do you think is the goal of the game?
Answer: It seems that I have to remember the order in which the different orbs light up and then select them to solve the puzzle.
Question: How would you rate the difficulty of the puzzle?
Answer: I would rate that as medium because the color of the lit up orb is hard to see and the orbs overall are hard to select.
Improvements: Changed the highlight color for all orbs to red and resized it twice the previous size.
Breakdown the final piece
The UI is the first element which the player will confronted after the game starts. After selecting the start button the camera position will transforming into the building. All transform mechanic is based on empty game elements (start, play, restart).
On the play state the orbs will light up in a random order. The task of the player is to select the orbs in the same direction. If it isn’t the same order the audio feedback will tell the player this by playing a specific sound file. This process can be repeated as long as the pattern is the same.
After succeeding the position changes again to the end screen. The end screen is an UI element with a restart button.
All in all the Google Cardboard SDK combined with Unity was fairly easy to use. During the development process the biggest challenge was to program the game mechanics with the five orbs, so the puzzle itself. User tests can be a big time saver if you bring them really early on board because even if you think your project is simple and easy to use, keep always in mind that most of the time your audience has a different knowledge.
My main focus in the future will be to improve the overall game design. The current version has only one scene and therefore it can be boring after playing it a couple of times. This can be changed by created way more challenging levels with even more orbs.