Venusian Puzzler

or another Udacity Vr Puzzler write up…

Welcome to this “Simon Says” style puzzle VR experience… on planet Venus !
No… No naked woman into a sea shell but a bit stressful VR experience since you can’t breathe freely on planet Venus.
Try to access your bunker to survive.
Ouch ! A sadistic engineer has develop a weird way to “secure” entrance.

To succeed, you need to reach a safe point by resolving a simple puzzle : A five steps sequence to repeat after a demonstration. Little tip for you : Give a number to each of the balls, and try to remember the sequence of numbers.
It’s now a pushover !

Enjoy !


Outcome

Finalexperience. Try to imagine it in VR !

Story of the process

It’s not about creating a simple VR experience, it’s mainly about making it enjoyable for people you are targeting. And it is the whole process goal in use there.
To make it enjoyable, we have to be sure that people is comfortable with and easily understand how to and what to do into the VR scene. 
To achieve this goal, best way is to proceed with some tests repeatedly, correct the project accordingly to feedbacks and not to forget that the user experience is key.

Let’s define our audience and what kind of experience we want to offer them !

Statement of Purpose: Puzzler is a mobile VR application for new VR users which challenges them to solve a familiar type of puzzle in a new immersive way.

Persona :

Name : Miguel
Age : 52
Occupation : Telecom Engineer
Level of Experience with VR : None

“Is that stuff like in Total Recall ?”
Miguel made good studies as an engineer, and he chose telecom because it was a cool job when he graduated. Now, he’s bored at work because his job is repetitive not and as cool as he thought… So to keep motivation and try to stay young, he keeps an eye on new techs. Today he’s beside his nephew who play with a VR game on a HTC Vive. And Miguel tries to remember in which movie he already saw something like that…

Inspiration :
2 days before beginning this project, I saw Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón and that inspired me !
I wanted to drop the user alone in space, and let him slowly float to a space capsule overwhelmed by debris!

First sketch following course requirements

Wow! …But a little bit difficult to achieve in 10 evenings… So I landed the experience on planet Venus, found this image as an inspiration and began modelizing

Image by Vaughan Ling : https://www.artstation.com/artwork/8w8aR — Awesome !
Modelization with blender
Modelization of the skybox. ( Nebula effect made by Mark Kingsnorth )

User testing outcomes and iterations

— Scale adjustment tests :

Just after the first draft of the “space corridor”, I did conduct my first user test. (People comfortably seated)

First integration in Unity
Outcome… very dark effectively !

User A :I feel a little smaller than usual. Ambiance is very dark !
User B :Comfortable. The ambiance is “normal” for a quiet day in the outer space

After this user test, I rescaled my scene to 90% and decide to bring more lights.

— UI tests :

Ui sketch

User A :Oki, a panel make appear another one and vis versa. That’s it ?”

After this user test, I guess everything is oki!

— Motion mechanic tests :

User A : “Speed is ok, but one thing is disturbing : the starting panel hides the corridor. We think it’s the only thing in the scene until we begin to move. Then the corridor appears in a snap, it’s quite deranging… “

After this user test, I tried to add delay between panel disappearance and movement. But the most efficient (I made another test) was simply to resize the panel smaller so the user guessed there is something behind.

— Game mechanics tests :

User A :That’s the same way as the game red yellow and blue ! … and green ?” “Seriously, it’s a little bit static…

After this user test, I decided to make blue orbs move a little bit to make transitions to failure and success states

— Final tests :

To add ambiance and feedback for user, I brought music, sounds and animations to the experience.

User C :When I did fail, I didn’t understand I had to wait a so long time to get another demonstration to be able to retry

After this user test, I did shorten the delay before DisplayPattern function call, except for the first time when user is moving to the orbs.

Breakdown of final piece

  • Player stands on a not so friendly planet.
  • A welcome panel invite him to start.
  • Ouch ! User move to the puzzle, and try to resolve it.
  • Finally they can go further and enter the bunker.

Conclusion

The real purpose of this project was to learn how to construct solid experience that fits to a target user.
I didn’t expect these kind of exercise in this training, and to be honest I didn’t like it so much at the beginning (and not too much at the end). 
Conduct user tests, make a persona. It’s a marketing job!
But I admit that even if it’s not my preference, this interactive and participative approach focuses on the user experience which is a crucial key to the adoption and success of my VR developments.
This allows to approach the project with the eyes of the users rather than the eye of the developer. The main challenge is now to get the users into the developer’s VR world!


Next steps

  • I think I could add consistence to the scene by giving a sense of this pretty weird corridor. Why is there a Simon Says style puzzle floating here ? 
    Maybe put a password generator on a device worn by the left arm of the user ? When this one looks left, the left arm could move at the user sight to show the password. Then the user could try to repeat it on a holographic screen.
  • And of course I could add a lot more details on the scene to arouse the desire of the user to continue to pursue this strange experience….

Resources :

The Nebula for skybox :

I found a complete scene in blender ! Made by Mark Kingsnorth. You can find it here : http://www.markkingsnorth.com/2017/01/31/blender-nebula-group-node-tutorial-download/

Music and sounds :

  • Sliding Glass Door Aggressive
  • Breathing Echo Space
  • intro music : Cavern by HOVATOFF
  • outro music :

https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/soundeffects