Final Design Doc:
Concept: The user is immersed in darkness and must use their hearing to traverse the darkscape. Our intention is to have the user feel creeped out and uncomfortable, as if they are unwelcome in a strange place that exists without them.
Rules: The user begins in the center of the room. The user must walk around the VR experience with the HTC Vive controllers, triggering instances as they move. They must rely most often on the audio, but also must approach objects and lights to progress forward.
-Audio: voices, light switch, knife, ticking, breathing, train whistle and movement, Audio spatializer
-Visual: 3D models, modified lighting script, table texture
-Technical: computer capable of running VR, HTC Vive headset and controllers, bluetooth headphones, small room
Our game basically started with the idea that the user would follow sounds around the stage and that sets of items would appear with a certain theme. We moved from the initial idea of a department store in the dark to a sort of nightmarish, voluminous room that could be both open and claustrophobic at the same time. Most of the work involved finding decent 3D models that worked together to convey the mood of a specific set, and then placing those models in specific areas that would have contained trigger zones. The trigger script used with each set, although it underwent a bit of a change into being array-based, was fairly simple. It basically just said, when the player collides with this trigger, remove the trigger and the current set and instantiate the next set of objects and triggers.
I really enjoyed doing a lot of the stage design and creating a sequence for the player. However, I think I would like to tighten up the mood and theme a little more as far as style of the 3D models go. Some are at odds with others and it seems fairly obvious that we just sourced what we could find. If I could actually get good at 3D modeling, it could enhance the unity of the project.
The audio, while I think could be improved in quality, is what makes the experience. It was great learning to work with Audacity and seeing how powerful a simple, free program can be. For instance, all the mannequin voices are my voice but sound radically different. The one issue we ran into during playtesting with the HTC Vive was that the audio sources conflicted with each other in such a small space. For those playtesters who didn’t have especially keen ears, it was hard to track sound locations. I think this is just something that requires a lot of testing and tweaking to get the audio source ranges to the proper distance.
Lastly, I have to comment on the VR experience in general. It was my first VR trial and I was amazed at the quality of the visuals and audio. You are sucked into the world and really do lose your sense of space. Now I know that the particle effects look absolutely stunning VR (the train smoke, just wow!), I hope to try out some more in the future. This project has shaped my interest in games and 3D worlds a lot. Now that I had a shot working with the Vive, I don’t want to move back to non-VR experiences and game worlds. Wearing the Vive v. watching a screen in a chair are two completely different things, and I already have a preference for the former and look forward to how people express its capabilities in the future.