Building Virtual World | Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University
Instructor：Jesse Schell, David Culyba
Platform: VR (HTC Vive)
My Contributions: 3D Scene Design and Creation, Game Design, UX/UI Design
Cyber Bounce 3000 is a multi-player VR battle game, in which the guests would throw bouncing balls to each other and defend themselves by using the shields. The guest who gets 8 shots wins the game.
Using UI design to improve game experience in a VR world.
A Hot Potato
I am also responsible for UI design. Designing UI on the VR platform is very different from traditional 2D UI design. Due to the 3D feature of the VR world, UI design is more like an environment design. How to make UI look harmonious in the 3D world and at the same time use UI elements to communicate important messages with players? What is more, how to make use of UI design to contribute to a good game experience? I would like to highlight four ways of our design.
1. Combine UI elements to a wearable device of players
We designed a wristband that can show the time bar of balls and shields' frozen time. Players can know when to use their abilities by just checking their wristbands. In this way, we avoided making these 2D elements float in the air which always obscure players' vision in-game.
2. Start button: Taking use of interaction between two players to start the game
Before the start of the game, each player needs to go through tutorial parts which means that their activities are not synchronous. So we met a problem who could decide when to start the game. A simple solution is to let one of the two players start the game by grabbing or touching the start button. However, we thought it was a normal experience. How to improve it? We thought of the traditional battle game in our real-life like Taekwondo, competitors always need to make a bow as rituals of the game. We want to merge this spirit into our game design. We design the stating part which needs two players to touch the same button at the same time. This design got good feedback.
3. Merge UI elements to scene design
We used to see health bars floating on opponents‘ heads in traditional games. However, in our game, it is difficult to see the health bar clearly in this way due to a distance between two players. To solve this problem, we put the health bar under the players' locations as a decoration part of the scene. In this way, we fixed the health bar as well as made it clear to see.
4. Customized players’ experience by adding more interactions
People always feel satisfied and excited when their experiences are unique. At the end of our game, we also designed a part for the two players to memorize their game experience. They can pose and take a picture together.
I designed and modeled the scene by using Maya, Unity3D.
The 3-week design process can be summarized to several questions below.
What are our constrains？
Consider that this game will be displayed on ETC Festival, the players for this game including kindergarten children as well as old people. So most of our game‘s players are naive players which means that we need to make the game simple and easy to learn. What is more, on Festival night, there will be more than 1k people which requires our game need to let guests quickly immerse in a highly enjoyable experience.
What is the most touching essential experience？
We brainstormed several essential experiences we thought were enjoyable: stealing items from others' house, parallel world, opening a portal to enter the other world... We used board games and role-play to quickly prototype our ideas and came to the finial idea：using bouncing ball to battle with another player in a VR world.
The idea came from the game dodgeball. We all enjoyed that moment when playing this game with simple rules and a clear goal. We thought we could build on the basic interactions of the dodgeball game: throwing a ball and dodging to develop our game.
Which platform is the most suitable one for our game？
Each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. Based on our design which emphasized body motions, we decided to use VR headsets and controllers which can help us sense players' motions in the real-world as well as build an amazing and high immersive visual world.
How to create a new experience by using VR technology?
Based on our essential experience, concept, platform, and constraints, we began to brainstorm that what could we build on the interaction of throwing and dodging the ball. One of the magic of playing the game is that players can do what they can not do in real life. Except for throwing and dodging balls in-game, what if we develop it to include bouncing ball and using shields to defend?
How to improve players’ experience by design？
Game experiences are influenced by many factors: art, game mechanics, degree of difficulty, storytelling, sound and so on. After several rounds of prototype and play testings, we already realized the mechanic of our game. However, we found that players not so excited during the game process. One obvious reason was that they feel kind of difficult for our game. We thought this might due to two causes: one was the design of mechanics and the other was the design of the tutorial. We iterated those two parts. Additionally, in order to build a highly immersive experience, we also think of using 3D sound effects and visual art design to improve game experiences.