Adventure of Rowan

Building Virtual Worlds | Entertainment Technology Center | Carnegie Mellon University

Instructor:Jesse Schell, David Culyba

Duration:2 weeks

Platform: AR, Meta II

My Role: Producer, 3D Artist, Sound Designer, Game Designer




Background Story & Play Mechanics

Rowan got lost in the jungle. He is in danger!Beasts can attack him anytime. Save Rowan somehow! 

Adventure of Rowan is an AR (Augmented Reality) game based on the Meta II Platform. The main character Rowan is a wild baby. Guests (players) need to protect Rowan from beasts' attacks through catching ingredients (water/sunlight) floating in the air to grow a tree for Rowan to hide. Animals change at different levels from small to big and guests need to keep growing the tree. What is more, if Rowan climbs to a high position, he will meet violent birds and it also needs guests' help to protect him by using clouds to cover Rowan to avoid birds' attacks.



Design Process


Requirements for designing: Create a highly interactive world where the guest or guests must help Character A achieve a goal. Character B stands in the way of that goal in some fashion and is frightening or intimidating to Character A.

We went through brainstorming, exploring, concept designing, prototyping, play-testing, feedback analyzing, iterations, etc. 

Exploring & Analyzing
Understand Meta II Platform
Explore AR games
Defining Concept
Build Story
Concept Realization
Play testing
feedback analysis
Branding & Finally Presentation
2 Rounds 
1. Exploring & Analyzing
We explored the features of the Meta II platform which included the functions, interactive gestures, advantages, and disadvantages, etc. We also studied mainstream AR games.
Insights and analyzing:
For Meta II platform, we found that:
  • It had a wider field of view which can provide guests with an immersive experience with photorealistic holograms;
  • Guests could move in space during playing games which provided a chance to let guests have interactions with surrounding space;
  • Various gestures including touch, grab, push, and pull stunning 3D holograms created unique experiences for guests. 
However, after testing, we also found some disadvantages:
  • Interactions like grabbing, pushing, enlarging, pulling sometimes not work well which influences guests' experience of the game.
  • Though guests can move, space is limited because of connecting lines. 
  • Not like mobile AR games, it is difficult to build connections among different guests like Pokémon GO/ Ingress.
  • After gesture testing, we decided to use grabbing and moving as our main interactive gestures for our gameplay.


​The gesture of grabbing in Meta II

original video from Youtube 

​Gesture of enlarging in Meta II

original video from Youtube 

​Gestures of enlarging and rotating  do not work well sometimes

​Gesture of grabbing does not work well sometimes

2. Ideation
Ideation - Two round Brainstorming
After exploring, we turned back to confirm the design requirements (goal) and start the first round brainstorming. We talked about our ideas and in the process, we kept considering the insights we got from our exploring stage.
In the end, we chose two ideas we liked and start the second round of brainstorming which went deep to discussed the core gameplay. At this step, we emphasized 4 points:
  • Originally: Does our game try new things?
  • "Helping" Theme: Does our game meet the theme?
  • Appeal: Is the premise of the world exciting?
  • Engagement: Does the world hold a guest's attention? Does the world build upon itself and get more engaging as it progresses?
We used these four points to review our ideas and chose one idea which we thought meet those points. 



Ideation - Defining the Concept


Main game mechanics & Essential experience: Growing a tree by collecting ingredients around the tree.

  • We all think that growing stuff can always bring us satisfaction. If you can find ingredients in your room and collect them by yourself to grow a big tree, it would be a nice experience.

  • And we want to take full use of AR's magic to change guests' surrounding environment.

  • In addition, considering the interesting interaction with space but limited space guests could move on the Meta II platform, we thought that took the use of the vertical space was a good interactive way for our game. Growing a tree could take full use of vertical space also at the same time guests need to move around. 

Ideation - Prototyping
We built rapid prototypes in Unity in order to validate our design concept, and use it for quick playtesting and got feedback. 
We found that let guests growing a tree provides them with great satisfaction. In addition, let guests move around to grab ingredients created a nice experience for interaction. So we confirmed our idea.


Ideation - Build Story


After confirming the main gameplay, we started to build our story.

How to add fear to the moment of growing tree?We set the game scene at the jungle and create a baby as our main character (character A) and beasts (character B) to make a contrast and add fear to our game. Combining with the main gameplay, let the baby climb the tree to avoid beats' attacks was a good idea for us to develop. 



3. Concept Realization
Round 1:
We realized main game mechanics, conducted experience map, level design, art style design and made main models, scenic and composed background music, dialogue, sound effects.
Experience Map:
Art Design:
We choose a low poly style for our game and made models, scenes, UI and animations.
UI Design
Explore UI design on the AR platform. 
good AR experience integrates the digital world and physical world seamlessly and any interactions should feel like you are interacting within a  Not like traditional UI on screens, designing for this ‘new reality’ AR experiences requires a different way of thinking. Areal world environment. We went through a sketch, user flow,  prototype, playtesting and refining steps to explore UI design for our AR game.
We sketch out the scenes in the first person and the second person and discuss the interactions which will happen in the process of the game firstly.
User Flow
Round 1: Playtesting & Feedback
Round 2:
After analyzing feedback, we start iteration. In this stage, we solved the problems in game mechanics using numerical design to adjust the degrees of difficulty of different levels to improve the interest curve.
Round 2: Playtesting & Feedback 



  • Nice use of AR. The tree and the floating resources is a good structure.


  • Story does a decent job of setting up character A and the fear


  • The tree looks nice and helps ground the experience.


  • Grabbing the spheres looks surprisingly engaging


  • Character B is a little less clear.


  •  It is hard for guest to finish the game. Energy balls float far away from guest.


  • What interesting choices will the guest make? Is it just grabbing whatever sphere they can reach? Is it about speed? Do the other animals play a role in the decision making?

Analyzing & Insights

​Room for Improvement:

  • The choices the guest makes should be simple and clear and reinforce the story.

  •  Think less about levels and difficulty and more about interest curve. 


  • Showing progress with the tree is nice


  • Cute little world and good fit for Meta 2.


  • Rowan is cute and the general setup is well done


  • Tutorial moment takes a long time and is a little overwhelming


  •  Meter is a little artificial and to the side

Analyzing & Insights

​Room for Improvement:

  • Some of the interfaces are a little complicated which needs improve.

  • Perfect the “Win” and “Game over” moments.


  • Good escalation--different animals and clouds!


  • Good sense of progress


  • Clouds are a good idea but are a little confusing


  • Character A is clear, animals are clear, fear is clear. True to the "helping" theme


  • The world has a nice consistency reinforced in the interactions, art, and sound.

​Interest Curve

Image from《The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses》Jesse Schell

Redesign Levels

In Third Person

In First Person

Interaction details 

4. Delivery
Preparing our finally delivery :)Though it is a course project, we want to make a deep impression on the audience. As the producer, I lead our team and design a jungle theme finally presentation. We used cardboard letters to show our game's name. We thought those show could make branding for us as well as improved audiences' interests before playing our game.