BUILDING VIRTUAL WORLDS ROUND 1
Mabel is an Augmented Reality experience built for the Microsoft Hololens with the clicker. This project was built by a five person team in two weeks time. I was the designer, writer, programmer and producer on this project.
The theme given to us was that character A is scared of an entity or character B, and the guest has to help A get past that obstacle or fear. We decided on a fantasy setting where you take control of the deer and explore the castle in search of a potion that can transform the deer back into a princess and end the game. We initially tried to design a maze puzzle, where the guest has to move walls to make a path and get to the desired destination. This then was adapted with a fantasy story such that you have to help a transformed princess navigate a castle while watching out for guards.
Implementation and Challenges
Implementing this was not as easy as initially planned, as we had a few technical hiccups. Since we had all levels piled one on top of the other in the castle, the Hololens clipping plane was causing part of the design to be invisible to the guest view. Also, input to give directions as to where exactly the deer has to go was difficult to work with the 'Pinch' interaction on the Hololens as it was causing inaccuracies in location of pinch. I then simplified the design so that the castle itself doesn't change, but the mazes are replaced by patrolling guards so that you have to time your movement to avoid being captured by the guard.
The clipping problem had to also be dealt with efficiently. If you get the Hololens camera too close to a model, the model gets clipped. So basically if we created one joint castle on Maya it would completely vanish if a guest brings their head close to it. So we constructed the castle from individual bricks, using a script to set dimensions of a particular wall and then putting up the wall in the desired location of the castle, all in Unity. This turned the tide completely, because now we were using the clipping plane to our advantage. A player can now look into any enclosed rooms through multiple tiers and irrespective of which floor the deer is on. This feature eventually turned out to be the most notable and attractive one in our game.
After this, the remaining part of the development was just fine tuning the location of the collectibles and the position and routes of the guards. The design was in such a way that to finish the game, the guest must explore all parts of the castle, in the process getting past all the guards at least once. Once we integrated the Hololens clicker, target accuracy improved drastically and the experience ran smoothly. After several playtests we felt that we needed to add in a mini-tutorial to familiarize guests with rules of the world. Player experience remarkably improved after that.