Imagine RIT is annual creativity and innovation festival showcasing student projects in emerging tech. Each year, senior design and development students form teams to create a capstone project for exhibition. For our capstone, we created a VR maze game called 'Collabyrinth' using the Google Daydream headsets.
We were really interested in exploring how the immersive nature of virtual reality might be used in education to foster learning and social development. Despite our limited knowledge of Unity and 3D modeling tools, we challenged ourselves to build a multi-player virtual reality game. On the big day of the festival, over 100 attendees visited our booth to test out our game.
Use the immersive nature of virtual reality to practice core concepts from school curriculum.
Help kids develop critical interpersonal skills through collaborative game objectives.
Grow the VR market by providing fun, inexpensive options for children.
Players are initially separated in the maze and must work together to solve puzzles and meet each other at the center. Each maze level represents a different subject of curriculum and is styled like a different season. To beat the game, players must collect a gem from each level and return them to an evil wizard who has stolen the seasons from the kingdom.
To optimize for rendering our game on a mobile phone, our characters needed to be fairly basic polygonal shapes with a minimized number of points. Despite this simplification, we still wanted our characters to have some spunk and spirit. We added capes and animal-themed hats to create adventurous, gender-neutral characters.
Our first pass at the overall maze design nicely mapped to our storyline. The maze was divided into four rectangular quadrants, one for each level and season. The final level took place in center and was designed in the shape of our logo. Each level contained multiple puzzles for players to solve in order to collect the gem.
We quickly realized that the initial maze design was too ambitious for a busy festival event. To shorten the time needed to complete the game demo, we reduced the mazes to one puzzle for player. With the new designs, we plotted the location of the puzzles and environment landmarks.
We started off building our mazes in 3D. Like the character designs, we used stylized polygonal shapes to create each season's environment. On every level, we planned for the players to meet in the center where the gem was stored.
Despite our efforts to minimize complexity, our environments proved too detailed and continually crashed our phones. We made an elventh hour decision to switch to placing 2D layers in 3D space. This created a pop storybook effect that we felt played really well with our game's concept and storyline.
Because it tooks us several weeks to get our game into a working state, we didn't have an opportunity to test the game with users prior to the event. We were surprised by how much participants struggled to perform actions requiring basic motor skills in VR. Simply pointing and clicking on the floor to move position proved difficult for many participants. Our next steps to improve the game would be to revisit this interaction, create more readable puzzles, and add more visual variation in the landscpapes to help with navigation.
© Copyright 2019