Puzzler is a prototype virtual reality game designed for Android smartphone, built using Unity Engine, which features a dungeon containing floating puzzle pieces that glows and makes a sound in a sequence when the user enters the dungeon. The objective of the game is exactly similar to Simon Says where the user has to follow the sequence go five floating puzzle orbs that glow and plays a sound (the sound is positioned accordingly), and select the orbs five times following the same sequence in order to pass the dungeon and the game. The game is small and shows a simple Simon Says type of game or any other similar puzzle game can be implemented with virtual reality technology.
It was made to demonstrate the possibility of the user immersing him/herself in the virtual reality world, while playing simple games, improving the fun factor. The outcome of this project is to:
- Demonstrate the use of virtual reality on a mainstream level.
- Help educators adopt technology to improvise learning and build mental capability while having fun on the side.
- Bring virtual reality gaming to regular consumers.
Story of the process
A lot of factors have been taken and the whole project is planned out beforehand considering different factors (persona, sketches, environments, health) before the whole game has been built using Unity.
Every project has got a purpose and I maintained the following statement of purpose:
“Puzzler is a mobile VR application for new VR users which challenges them to solve a familiar type of puzzle in a new way.”
One of the core principles of making this game was to link education and fun. Using this principle, I have thought out a sample persona which is given below:
My son will have the same brain as Lex Luthor and will defeat him just like his dad”
Name: Lois Lane, the Super Mom
Occupation: Teacher and mom
Lois wants her kid to be smart and use his wits at different problems he faces. She brings in toys for him that will develop his mental abilities starting with Legos to various puzzles. She wants to get him something even more immersive so that her son goes deep into puzzle solving. She would like him to participate in game shows.
VR Experience: Little to none
The above picture on the left is a rough final sketch that I made where the user enters in a dungeon-like house, with two doors at the opposite ends. Inside there are 5 orbs, which are floating and scattered around the user. The orbs are placed with due consideration of the user line of sight and angle.
Another sketch has been made to design the two simple menus that allow the user to start and restart the game. That menu would be placed in front of the user.
While building the game the following considerations are taken:
- The game should not make the user have motion sickness.
- The User Interface should be clear and easy to use.
- The puzzle pieces should be at user line of sight for the user to easily detect the sequences played.
- The sounds are spatially placed to improve user detection.
- The whole game should focus on clarity in the whole lifecycle.
Screenshots of the game
Below are several screenshots of the game.
User testing outcomes and iteration
Initially, I have tested the game with a family member of mine who plays games regularly. Here are the logs:
He is a regular gamer.
Test 1: Environment
Question: What do you feel?
1. Are those balloons?
2. I think I am in a dungeon.
3. I think I am in a closed space with two doors.
Question: What do you think about your size and height inside there?
Answer: I think I am more or less nearly same size.
His query: Are you making a dungeon game?
My actions on his feedback: My big concern was whether Rafid would feel comfortable on his own height in the game. He was satisfied on that and I didn’t have to change the setting. However that being said, I need to find more people so I could test this and get their feedback.
Test 2: User Interface
Question: How did you feel about the Main Menu
Answer: Give me more options then I could decide a lot more on that. The menu is ok. Would have been better if I knew whether I am selecting something.
My actions on feedback: I made a little change on the main menu where when the user points at the buttons, those will lit up green.
Test 3: Movement
Question: What made you feel about the movement? Did it make you sick?
Answer: I would love to have a little bit slower to create more suspense. It did not make me sick.
My actions on feedback: I changed the speed of the movement slightly down from 2 to 1.5, just to make it a little slower when moving from one waypoint to another.
Test 4: Final game
Question: How is it?
Answer: It’s nice. I think some instruction would have been good (he realized it is Simon Says game a little while later). If I could stand a little bit back, then I could see all the balls, I have to move here and there a lot.
My actions of feedback: In my future iteration, I would add helpful instructions to play the game. He was facing problems of detecting the orbs patterns. I changed a couple of things.
- I changed the orb light up color from bright blue to pink.
- I changed the middle waypoint where the player stands beside the orbs. I increased the distance between him and the orbs.
- I increased the volume of the orb lit-up sounds.
Breakdown of final piece
The final prototype of the game includes two sets of menus for starting the game and restarting the game and also the dungeon. When the player logs in the game, he/she will have the main menu at the front, with a start button. As soon the player starts, he/she will automatically navigate inside the dungeon, where he/she will see five orbs. The orbs will start to light up 5 times in a random sequence. The goal of the player is to match the correct sequence, by selecting the orbs, one-by-one. If the user fails, a weird sound will be played. If the user, passes the sequence test, he/she will be navigated outside the dungeon with a menu asking whether the user wants to play the game again.
Here is the video of the whole game from start to finish.
While this is not a complete game, it was meant to demonstrate that people can have fun and immerse themselves while solving little puzzles. Using the same procedures, many more puzzle games can be made. This whole game can be extended to multiple levels with different puzzles, thus improving the lifespan of the whole game.