RyanCorrell Programmer, Designer, and Dreamer of many things

Ryan Correll's Puzzler

In this Term 2 Udacity Project, I was tasked to develop a mobile VR game called Puzzler. You, the player, are trapped and the only way out is to memorize the order of the orbs flashing and repeat the sequence to escape the Dungeon.

The scope of this 4-week project is to focus on the design elements, explore revisions based on user testing, create a playable game, and the proper method to document those steps. Because coding was not the goal of the Puzzler, I was able to concentrate on what the user had to say and how my layout on the game flowed. From start to completion, this project took approximately 30 to 35 hours to complete.

From the initial concept, I wanted the room to be round and not square as what was in the lesson. This allow me to space out the game orbs and allow the user to have a wider field of view. The concept was to have the orbs animate out of an urn, but my knowledge of the language is new and still growing.

Unity has an extensive assets library that created some good inspiration as to what I wanted added to this design. I was able to use add flames to the torches, which only helped the overall feel of design.

Puzzler


Process

Statement of Purpose: The Puzzler is a mobile VR game that relies on the player to memorize a sequence to complete the challenge.

Persona


An ideal user was needed for this application. The persona of Jason was created to be the target audience of the Puzzler. Jason, a 34 year old purchasing agent, works 50 hours a week.

Due to his full routine, he has limited time to have fun before it's time for bed. He loves finding a few minutes to play video games or even Sudoku, but really wants to go to an Escape Room with friends.

His VR experience is limit only to trade shows. He often thinks "I can't get a moment to relax and get out!"

Sketches

The following sketches are of the initial concept for the Puzzler. The main concept that didn’t change through this process was that I wanted the room to be round. I didn’t want to see too many sharp corners. The initial design was for a library and for the game orbs to emerge from a vase or container in the center of the room. Due to design and time limitations, I retained the base Dungeon design provided for the class.

User Testing

User Test 1

The first user testing session involved two people, SC and XM. They were both asked the following questions:

  1. Describe the mood
  2. How do you feel in relationship to the size of the room?
  3. Is there anything that doesn't feel right?
  4. Thoughts on your experience?
User: SC (5' 7")
  1. Ominous and curiosity
  2. "I feel small. Like a child."
  3. "The view out the door makes me feel uneasy"
  4. "I enjoyed it and want to see the finished product"
User: XM (5' 2")
  1. "Wonder. I want to walk around"
  2. "The room size feels right"
  3. "The view outside makes me think I'm walking toward the Void."
  4. "I want to see more and interact with objects"

Note about response #3: I didn't have the mountain scene in place and it was only the skybox gradient.

My findings are that I need to have the mountain range in place, so the user doesn't feel removed from the world. I also need to figure out an average camera height for the average human height.

Discovery and Resolution: Increase scale of room just a little.

User Test 2

The second user testing session involved one person, MF. The following questions asked were to identify issues with the game instructions and motion:
  1. What does the set of instructions tell you?
  2. How does the motion into the room make you feel?
  3. How do you feel in relationship to the size of the room?
  4. What does the second set of instructions tell you?
User: MF (6' 0")
  1. "How to play the game and then to click the button to play."
  2. "This is really my first time using VR. The motion is okay. I just need to get used to this."
  3. "At first I wasn't sure. Now I think the room size is right to my height."
  4. "That I won, and I can play again"

Discovery and Resolution: A bug was found during repeat cycles through the game. The reset panel stopped appearing. This bug occurs when the user clicks the reset button while still in motion into the room or out of the room. In the final release of the Puzzler, the second set of instructions remains hidden until the user is out of the room.

User Test 3

Test 3 was an open commentary from user XM, who was already familiar with the first phase of this application.

XM – “The movement into the room makes me dizzy. The balls are hard to follow.”

Her additional thoughts were that the instructions did not convey the information needed to play the game.

Resolution: Bring the spheres in closer and change the contrast between the base and highlight colors. The horizontal movement was slowed down. The start timing has been updated. The instructions were also updated.

Breakdown of Final Piece

Lighting is key in this project in creating something that goes with the music in the final product. In this earlier design, you can see that it isn’t so much spooky as it is abandoned.

Below is the same room, but with a roof, animated torches, a darker setting, and the snowy mountains.

Below are a few more testing phase screenshots. These supported the argument that the scene needed to be darker in order to balance the lightind from the torches as well as the orbs.

The iteration of testing and revisions created the version in its final form. The pacing is maintained from the moment the user puts on the VR viewer.

The game opens to the sound of crickets in the dark distance. The surrounding world is dark and cold. The user is given clear instruction before playing the game. After the user agrees to play, they can hear ominous music growing as they approach the Dungeon. Orbs fill the room and begin to glow in a random order. The user’s task is to copy the pattern of the orbs in exact order to escape. Upon escape, the user has the option to play the game again.

Conclusion

This project has inspired me to continue my education in VR. User feedback is often different than what the designer has in mind. Everyone is different, and it is important to test with a range of people to find a solid middle ground for everyone to find enjoyment.

Next Steps

The discoveries made during this process will only make me a better designer. As I learn and broaden my knowledge of Unity, I’ll likely come back to this project to fix the bugs I found during its development.

Additional Work

Portfolio website: http://ryancorrell.com

Unity Information:

Flame Assets: - Flames of the Phoenix by Onpolyx.
[Unity LTS Release 2017.4.4](https://unity3d.com/unity/qa/lts-releases?version=2017.4)
[GVR SDK for Unity v1.100.1](https://github.com/googlevr/gvr-unity-sdk/releases/tag/v1.100.1)
[iTween](https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/animation/itween-84) v2.0.9
Designed for Android 4.4 and up