As a member of the Tech Lab society at the University of Sydney, I took part in creating an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experience aimed at showcasing the potential of this technology in enhancing individual well-being. DreamR is a riddle game set in a surreal dream world where players uncover an inspiring story of self-improvement through solving each level. It has been designed and built for google cardboard platform allowing ease of access for entry level hardware.
Experience designer; 3D modeler; Developer
Adobe Illustrator, Blender, Unity; C#
Timeframe: Eight weeks
Enhancing well-being through Virtual Reality
To design a solution for well-being I first needed to define what it is. According to the American Psychological Association well-being is a state of happiness and contentment, with low levels of distress, overall good physical and mental health and outlook, or good quality of life. These would become leading principles in developing DreamR.
In gaining a better understanding of the target market, I sent online survey links to students, friends and family, receiving 46 responses in total.
Key findings were that users favored customization and options for stationary play in VR. As for type of game, challenging puzzle games set in strange new worlds were popular choices for recreation.
The interest in strange new worlds from my respondents inspired the setting of a dream world. This sparked further ideas of dream interpretation and the riddle like nature of these ‘symbols’ we attribute to dreams. Thus the world of DreamR was born. A game where players experience a dream representing the story of coming to terms with failure and overcoming it to head towards improvement.
A functional prototype was built in unity. The test version of the game involved no movement and had players teleport between each level. This was tested with 4 students who were prompted to think aloud during their experience so that I could take down notes on their immediate reactions.
Some key findings were that users found the transition between levels immersion breaking, and wanted a clear way to keep track of their progress.
While brainstorming a way to move between levels I faced a challenge in moving players while keeping them stationary. Many respondents from the initial surveys noted concerns about motion sickness and preferred a more stationary experience in VR. To achieve this I designed an elevator which would be the means of transport between levels, while also providing a convenient way to track progress on the elevator buttons, as they would light up green once a level has been completed.