Thoughts, Comments and Observations

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Seminar - VR 101: Design principles for virtual world

So I attended a seminar presented by the good folks at Academy Xi (Melbourne) which was for Design Week. It was actually quite an interesting introduction to a variety of what should be generally common sense, but can sometimes be masked by the main idea too. It was also great to hear some ‘veterans’ (which in the VR world really goes back as 4-5 years) talk about their experiences.

One of the few things that I took away from that seminar is the idea of accessibility. A huge challenge a lot of these professionals face when designing a game, video or experience is that not everybody has the same eyesight, hearing or even mobility. It’s great to have spatial cues in a game - such as noise to alert the user to turn around for example. Though in that instance, how will this work to people who are hard at hearing. Will you need additional cues? Will you assume that everyone who plays your game is going to have the same hearing on average and not cater for them too? Other common factors are colour blindness, use of glasses, motion sickness, and people with limited movement of head, neck or limbs. These should be consideration points but not something that should detract you from the main idea.

When prompted about what the panel thought the best experience they’ve had in VR, or what is a good design, a lot of them agreed on the point of having the experience live also outside of the headset. An example from one of the guests, was when they collaborated with Zero Latency and created a campaign related to mining bitcoin for a bank (or something similar). They had people standing outside of the bank dressed up in suits, prompting people that there is a specific task or specific job that they could do and make them mine for bitcoin. The people standing outside had a persona of professional people and it made the experience feel much more genuine and it literally stood out from the other games.

One other important comment that they all shared is that if you want to make your user feel more immersed in the virtual world, do not bombard them with UI. It’s a good design to make the any interaction feel like it’s part of the world. An example they shared was how “Arizona VR” came about with the idea of changing cartridges (as if you would in the physical world) to select a level. An example I’ve tried is the “I expect you to die” game which does the same thing.

Other notable mentions and notes that I took were;

  • Real World VR - this is a meet up that happens every month or 2 months (I would have to check). Could be useful

  • People have a 90 degree comfortable view - so 45 degree left and right is where you should aim to have important information.

  • Closer UI is better than far UI - eg 1.5m is easier to focus on than a huge far away UI

  • Diagetic vs Non Diagetic (research prompt)

  • Most people are accustomed to front facing games. You have to encourage with subtle hints or direction to make people look or move around.

  • Maestro Glove (research prompt)

  • Good examples of VR application - Blocks, Google Tilt Brush, Quill (research Angelica), Google Earth VR

  • Google News Lab - developer notes (research prompt)

  • Uncanny Valley? (research prompt)

  • Ease users out of the VR space, not just a ‘take headset off’ type of thing.

Anyways, I had to go to work after the meeting so I could not stay to ask more. But that was a good seminar and I felt that there was a lot of important things mentioned that were great for people who just started or even just being refreshed into the VR Space.