Sci-fi Escape is built to explore the possibility of creating compassion for a Virtual Reality character and to introduce a new VR interaction mechanic. Interactors start off in a sci-fi-themed jail cell with a potential companion to be found or built. Upon escaping the cell, the interactors will be put in a difficult situation where they either escape impending danger together or sacrifice your companion. The game was designed to be re-playable and finished in five minutes.
For the project, I was in charge of project management and level design lead. Our group used Oculus Rift and Unity for development.
Result and Achievements
Our project was selected to showcase at the Oculus campus in Menlo Park, CA in April. Two team members, including myself went there and interacted with Oculus employees and other students and professors who shared a similar interest in VR.
Our finished project was also featured during the Georgia Tech’s GVU Center Research Showcase an April, demoed out finished project to the audience, and received the positive feedback.
We included a cute and weak companion, BB-8, for interactors to work with to emphasize compassion and build relationship during the gameplay. Designing a stage was a huge challenge for us since physical space was limited and we wanted to create different sections just like a room escape mechanism. We solved it by placing objectives circular that interactors would walk around in a spiral path.
Mixing physical and virtual objects
For puzzle pieces, we set several challenges and goals to achieve at the end of the term. We first wanted to include physical objects interactors can use. We wanted the interactor to co-operate with BB-8 to build a relationship. At last, we wanted to imitate physical gestures in virtual space using Oculus Touch controllers.
To achieve these goals, we created:
1. A puzzle element that needs BB-8’s laser to break. However, since he’s short, he needs to be lifted. We added BB-8 jumping animation that may hint them what to do next. In addition, since BB-8 is a robot made with metal, lifting him with only one hand would be impossible in reality. We added a strong vibration and limit when interactors try to lift him with only one hand, and encouraged them to use both hands to grab or hug him to bring him up.
2. At the very end, they get on an escape pod that has a chair. We noticed that many testers tried to sit when there was no actual chair. By tweaking a map layout and putting an actual chair, the ending feels more natural and seamless.