For the first half of the semester, we are focusing on exploring the possibilities for the CAVE environment. In the first 2 weeks, I am in charge of 2D art for production stuff, such as posters. Then in the fast-prototype weeks, I worked as both programmer and designer. In about 5 weeks, I made 3 prototypes – balancing, spiderman, and a puzzle.
Balancing (1 week)
In this prototype, we focus on simulating the balancing interaction by using motion floor (a floor which can be tilted) to deliver a virtual scene on rafting. Generally, players’ body positions will be reflected in the virtual raft and influence the balance.
- Problem 1. There is a static state that players stand in the certain positions and the whole raft is balanced.
- Solution 1. Add waves coming to the raft from surroundings which will break the static balance.
- Problem 2. Players do not have a strong inclination to keep the raft balanced.
- Solution 2. Add cargo which slide on the virtual raft. Keep the raft balanced is to protect cargo from falling into the water.
- Problem 3. Motion floor has an obvious lag and the tilt angle cannot be controlled precisely.
- Solution 3. To play with the limitation of motion floor. We use motion floor as a feedback of fixed events instead of reactions for players’ behaviors. For example, entering an earthquake is a fixed event but get hit because of players’ behaviors is not.
- Problem 4. Players ignore objects in the side walls
- Solution 4. Surrounding sounds can act as a warning.
Insights for CAVE
Motion floor provides intense and various feedback which helps a lot on the fun of a CAVE experience. On the other hand, installing and initializing motion floor are complicated.
Spiderman (2 weeks)
In this experience, you are a spiderman travelling between the buildings in the city. We use one gesture (see the above figure) to shoot spider strings which interact with the virtual world in different ways. When attached to buildings, players can move to there; When attached to Medkit, players get cured; When attached to monsters, monsters fall down and get killed.
- Problem 1. Players keep scratching their arms which leads to constantly shooting.
- Solution 1. Change the shooting process to 1. Scratch arm; 2. Pull back. From these, when players finish the shooting, the gesture come back to the beginning.
- Problem 2. Targets are small, gesture recognition is not accurate enough.
- Solution 2. Add an auto-focus assistant when shooting.
- Problem 3. Players do not know where to start.
- Solution 3. Using Medkits as path indicators.
Insights for CAVE
Players do not get used to interacting with the side walls when playing. But side walls help a lot for immersive feelings. Especially there are some objects near moving cameras to the side walls.
Egypt Puzzle (1 week)
This is a two players competition game. Players grab patterns from the center screen to finish their own map which is the measurement of success in this game. The core gameplay is figuring out how to solve the puzzle based on the patterns in the center pool quickly. This concept is highly extendable on many aspects: special tasks, featured patterns, random events. For the prototype, we focus on making the core gameplay and test is it is fun.
Before making a digital version, we make a paper-based version test the idea. Also, it is helpful to get a rough idea of how to design levels in the game.
From this I learn:
- Symmetric maps always make players want to use the same pattern. So avoid make symmetric maps.
- The difficulty of a pattern depends more on the square area it taking up instead of the real blocks.
- It is hard to fill a map with limited choices of patterns.
- Flip over a pattern is really intuitive and important in the game.
Finally, we decide to extend the puzzle idea as one of our final demos.
My Art Work