Virtual Reality Design : Puzzler VR

As part of Term 2 of the Udacity VR Developer Nanodegree, I was challenged to build, design and iterate on a project called “Puzzler”. This part of the course gave me the opportunity to focus on the fundamentals of VR Design. Design in Virtual Reality is insanely important for the experience as you are literally creating a “virtual world” and if there are design issues all around you, it will have an impact on the experience and how the user is feeling. The focus was to optimize movement, audio, feedback and UI in VR.


Video Demo of Puzzler VR

In Puzzler VR, the user enters a dungeon environment and is challenged to solve a puzzle. The orb inside the dungeon glow in a random pattern, and the player needs to duplicate that pattern to win the game


Breakdown of Gameplay

Puzzler VR is meant for beginners to Virtual Reality and is meant to provide a good introductory experience.

The experience starts outside the dungeon environment, where the user is surrounded by mountains and can take their time looking around. The Start screen is placed in front of the dungeon so that the user can start the experience as soon as they are done taking in the surroundings.

Orb lighting up based on the pattern

As soon as the user has clicked “Start”, they are guided into the dungeon environment in from of the 5 orbs. This is where the puzzle begins. Inside the dungeon, the orbs light up in a simple pattern. The player has to replicate this pattern by selecting the orbs in the correct pattern. An incorrect selection of the orbs will result in a “failure” sound effect. After they have selected the wrong orb, the pattern will play again allowing the player to try again.

Congratulations and Restart Screen

Once the player successfully repeats the pattern, they are guided to the congratulations screen where they are asked if they like to try the game again. The patterns are randomized and are different every time.


Design Process

Purpose: Puzzler is a mobile VR game for new users, giving them a rich VR experience while playing a familiar puzzle game in a virtual world.

1. Target Audience

The target of this game is children and middle aged individuals who are interested in trying out VR for the first time.

2. Design Sketches

Sketches are really important before creating a VR Experience. Before designing your environment with 3D Assets, you need to first roughly visualize how you want you environment to look through sketching.

3. User Testing and Iteration

User Test 1 : Initial Environment, Lighting and Mood

Feedback:

  • The user felt small compared to the dungeon environment.
  • The user described the lighting and mood of the environment as “Creepy” and “Mysterious”. The lighting and mood were meant to look “Mysterious” and the user’s description verified that I had reached my goal

The dungeon environment was scaled down so that the user would no longer feel small in the space.

User Test 2 : Adjustments from Test 1, User Interface

Feedback:

  • The user no longer feels small in the environment.
  • The Start UI and Restart UI are very clear. The user felt that the UI Panels were a bit bigger than he expected.

The Start and Restart UI was scaled down based on the user’s feedback.

User Test 3 : Audio, Movement, Visual Feedback and Game Mechanics

Feedback:

  • The user really liked the audio and thought it complimented the mood of the dungeon environment.
  • The user thought the movement was very smooth but slow.
  • The user thought the game mechanic itself worked very well. He thought the grey color change of the orb was too subtle when playing the pattern.
  • The user liked the visual feedback but thought the grey color didn’t suit the environment and the color’s were not contrasting enough.
  • The user found the failure sound to be perfect and represented that the wrong orb was selected.

The movement animation was sped up using the iTween Plugin. The visual feedback color was changed to red to provide a more contrasting color change.


Conclusion

It was an awesome experience focusing on the design side of VR and focusing on building a game that users will like to play. Design is especially key in VR because of problems like VR Motion Sickness and optimizing and preventing these issues. User testing was extremely useful and really helped to refine the game in terms of scale, lighting, audio, etc.

Next Steps

  • Creating more gameplay options : Easy -> Expert
  • Creating levels in the game to allow users to play the game for longer periods of time
  • Making a larger dungeon environment so that users can progress through the VR Dungeon as they make their way through levels