A virtual reality experience exploring a magic library.
Team lead, gameplay programming, rigging, animation, technical art.
Needs and Constraints
This project was an exploration of virtual reality. We wanted something that was achievable with the time and resources we had, but also compelling and accessible to people who were new to VR. We settled on something that was closer to an experience that would be open ended and exploratory, rather than a traditional game with rules and a win state.
This required the art to be very appealing, as much of the success of the project would ride on the visual aesthetic of the environment. This was further complicated by having a large team, with a disparate amount of experience, as well as the native constraints of VR, which has higher processing overhead, and design considerations such as motion sickness.
We knew that the basic structure of the game would be, from the beginning, a library, with books that you could draw items from. As a student project, we knew that what we could get done in the time we had was likely to be very different than what we predicted, so I made the decision from the beginning to prioritize what we knew we needed, and take it from there. A simple game design document was written, concept art was drawn, and away we went.
The Programming was simple, and it needed to be by design. What was more challenging was making good use of the various rounds of QA testing. The information gleaned was candid, but often came from from people who had never used VR before previously, and that presented a tough UX challenge. Interacting with objects in a way that is consistent, logical and satisfying was a chronic problem, and required many reworks.
This was an extraordinarily challenging project, as this was the first true leadership position that I had in a development context. It almost goes without saying that I learned some big lessons about managing people. Learning how to get the best product possible, while treating your team with respect and support can feel like walking tightrope at times, but I've come down hard on the side of these being reciprocal principles, not contradictory ones.
Like many games, everything came together at the last minute, and I was very pleased with the final result, although I often come back to what might have been accomplished, had I known what I was doing going into it!