Virtual Reality Experience Project: Take A Leap
I am creating a virtual reality experience for users to experience an unknown/risky environment, evoke feelings of uncertainty and insecurity when they are facing changes or making choices and thoughts about leading the user to take a leap of faith in the context of an uncertain environment.
Project Summary & Description
Uncertainty is a state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome or more than one possible outcome. People deal with uncertainty very often in life, such as career changes, relocation, making choices, future planning. Possible outcomes might have an undesired effect or significant loss. What should people do when they are facing changes?
I am trying to increase the awareness of the importance that people should have the “leap of faith” attitude towards future technology, even more generally, anything in life. If we don’t know what is going to happen, in the future mist, we should “take a leap” to see. The outcome can be either good or bad, but if we don’t have any actions, we will stay in present forever. If the outcome is good, we will be glad to take that leap; if the outcome is not as we expected to be, but we know the future problem, thus we can figure out some possible solutions.
In entrepreneurship, people believe only “action changes things” when designing or releasing new products, services, films and so on. Even markets are often created in the absence of probability estimates.
In the field of game design, risk and uncertainty are designed into games. Most in gambling games, where chance is central for players to play.
What’s more, in scientific modeling field, where the prediction of future events always have a range of expected values, thus could be effective and accepted for people to understand and evacuate.
I am studying uncertainty, because I want to find out what attitude people would have when they are facing uncertain things, in order to encourage people to have an “actions change things” attitude towards changes in their life.
This project aims to encourage people to take a leap of faith when making their decisions in different life stages. If a person hears something, he/she may forget after a period of time; if a person sees something, he/she may remember it; moreover, if he/she interacts with something, the awareness will grow in his/her minds. In this case, I use virtual reality as a display medium, and physically jumping as an interaction to the risky environment which is seen in the VR.
This is the primary domain of this project. It is also the key environment that the project is going to create for users. Only when people feels uncertainty, they started to have interaction with this project. It is also be a following research part to observe how people deal with uncertainty.
Insecurity is a common feeling in the stage of uncertainty. Since the aim of the project is to encourage people to take the leap of faith, the ideal outcome would be the changes from insecurity to security. Users take actions (jump in this project), will trigger to enter a new stage of life and explore what’s in there, the stage can be good or bad, positive or negative, but this will give the user an sense of no matter what is ahead, action made it happen.
Risk & New Changes & Challenges
Like I stated above, risk is designing into games. Event though this project is not a game, this virtual reality experience will take this “risk” element in it, make it fun to explore new changes.
Decision making is everywhere in life, some people are explorers, adventurers, some are more comfortable staying in the comfort zone; Decision making process is a cognitive process resulting in the belief. Jump or not jump will be the decisions for users to make in this virtual reality experience. The result of decision making is important because it is the only reason to continue to explore in this project.
Tools & Technology
Oculus Rift DK1: virtual reality developer kit
Unity 4: game development engine
Blender: 3D modeling, animation software
Triple-Axis Accelerometer & Arduino: accelerometer detects object’s motion based on x, y and z-axis. Accelerometer passes data to Arduino, in order to let the computer tell if the person jumps or not. (In this case, if date on y-axis increase above one amount, it will tell the computer at that time the user took a leap)
Deeper Design Questions
- What triggers are strong enough for a user to physically take a jump in the virtual reality scene?
- How to connect the metaphors to real-life stages; how to tell a better story using the objects that I am using in the scene.
Content & Context:
Users will see an opening animation where there is a bunny jumps from one island to the other. Text shows up “Jump To Enter”. When the user jumps, he/she will jump into the first island/first scene to start the journey in the virtual reality. The path is set from one side of the island to the other side. After exploring the island, the user will approach to the edge of the land where is full of fog. He/she will step on a bridge that is connected to two lands, but the bridge is broken in the middle. The user can see the gap of the broken bridge, also a blurry island outline, but can’t see what’s in the next island.
The scene will change only if the user decides to take a leap in order to see what is in front of him/her. If the user doesn’t have any jump actions, he/she will stay at the middle of the bridge, with the old scene behind, facing a fog in front.
The scenes users see in the VR environment reflects different life stages.
（Sketches of the project, only executed the first, the second and the forth scenes)
The first scene is about childhood innocence before a person entering the society, the intention is to revoke the feeling of growing up to an adult from a child.
Island I : “Innocent”
Objects in use: Bunny, Lollipop, Forest
The second scene is about the complexity of the society. People are complicated, people wear masks. You never know what truly it is under those colorful masks especially if you are a young professional who first enters the society.
Island II: “Disguiser”
Objects in use: City, Masks
The third island is called “Watcher”, which indicates a state where people experience social pressure, being exposed to public attention. At the state, a person normally feels he/she is being watched, so he/she has to behave based on society regulations and match to social standards.
Island III: “Watcher”
Objects in use: Eyes
After developing the scenes for virtual reality, I started to test my project to see if users can figure out what they want to do if I didn’t tell them the roles to play. The result turns out pretty good, some feedbacks are:
- It is a good combination of VR and physical computing. Not too many projects use both, most VR projects only ask user to turn their head to interact. More fun elements are added into the VR when a user can physically jump.
- It is scary when a user approaches to the edge of the island, since the path is automatically set, people feel no control to stop before they reach the edge. A user wants to turn back instead of jump.
- Opening animation is a good trigger for users to understand this is a VR experience requires jumping. Because the bunny jumps from one island to the other, it is a sign for users before the experience really starts.
- This is a feedback from final presentation. Need to be precise and careful about citation, quotes and reference.
- Also from final presentation: A disconnection between the cute visual style and the intended effect; Is there a disconnection between the lack of agency and the theme?
Overall speaking, I am very happy with this final project. I have set a goal before starting this concept: I want to do something that I never worked on before – 3D Modeling, Game Design and VR, because I need to jump out of my comfort zone of doing graphic design and motion design. So I learned to use Unity, Blender, Accelerometer, working with Oculus Rift all from the very beginning. I am good at using After Effects, but I forced myself to learn and use Blender for the opening animation in this project. So this project for me is also a leap, I didn’t know what outcome it would have, maybe less desirable, but I want to give this a try. I know the art/visual part may be less satisfied a little but they are useful attempts for me in this project. I was worried about the VR experience would be dizzy, but it turned out to be fine. The outcome of user testing was good, too. People like my project and idea, and gave some constructive suggestions.
From the feedback of the final presentation, some points need to be taken such as reference and citation issues. Also “a disconnection between the cute visual style and the intended effect”, which I need to spend more time to think about what goal I want to achieve and how to achieve it with the visuals I am creating. The style, the objects and the overall vibe. The visual part can be improved and well-thought more.
Another thought is that I don’t feel the ending part is very smart. When the user finishes exploring the third island, he/she enters the fog and then the experience ends. I need to think what should be the next when he/she reaches to the end. Maybe the user jumps off the floating island and see more when falling?