VR Dungeon Puzzler

As part of my coursework with Udacity, I designed, tested, and iterated on a mobile VR experience called Puzzler. In this game, players enter a dungeon with five orbs, and are asked to solve a puzzle similar to a 3D simon.

Puzzler

I used iterative approach include several user tests in different stage of development to make the game intuitive, fun and immersive. People who has minimal experience can also have a ton of fun trying out VR game like this.

Watch this video in a VR viewer
In-Game Screenshot

The process

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 way.

Persona

Meet Ray
For this project I created a user persona called Ray. Ray is a 26 year old consultant and has minimal experience with VR. Ray likes playing mobile games and thinks “the best game is portable and can be played anywhere at anytime”.

Sketches

Here are some of the conceptual sketches I created to lay the groundwork for designing this project:

User Testing

Testing the scene and atmosphere

The purpose of this user testing is to determine the scale for the environment is accurate or not. Only one user took the test who had zero experience before. I asked the user to go into the game scene and estimate how big he was, what is the feeling he has when he is in the scene and where is he. The user reported that he felt a little bit small as he was in real life. However, it is easy for him to recognize where he was in the space. He also said he felt ominous and dangerous that is exactly as I had hoped.

Iteration: I changed the position of the camera and the scale of objects in the scene according to user’s feedback.

Testing the UI

I conducted a user test with two participants to determine the usability of the user interface I created to start and restart the game. Both users immediately understood they needed to click the start button to begin.

Iteration: Everything is expected. No iteration.

Testing the game experience

The last user test I conducted was for the overall game experience. Three novice users played through the game. All of testers successfully solved the puzzle. However, two of them said the sound when users aim the orb is annoying. Each time they aim the orb, it keep playing the “Dang”.

Iteration: Remove the hovering sound effect for orbs.

Break down of the final piece

For motion

One important consideration for this project was the motion sickness. In order to reduce and avoid VR sickness, every movement in this game is linear.

For atmosphere and mood

In-Game Screenshot

For the atmosphere of Puzzler, the objective was to create an abandoned, dangerous, and moody feeling by using flames on the wall, barrels in the space, blue orbs float in the air and lights in the dungeon. I wanted players to feel like only solving the puzzle could get them out of.

For user interactions

The goal is to create a intuitive user interaction by implementing a straightforward UI with a single button to start and restart. When playing, users use gaze input and the cardboard button to repeat a sequence.


Conclusion and final thoughts

I have a lot of fun during developing this VR experience. I learned a lot on how to design a VR game from scratch and how to reduce motion sickness. I’m looking forward to expanding this project and use the knowledge I learned from this project to create the next VR experience.

Next steps

Next steps for this project would be to polishing the game, adding more visual effects and more levels so that this can be a fully-explored gaming experience for mobile VR. After that I would like to release it on the Google Play so that more people can enjoy it!

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