Planet Creator

VR game prototype

January - May, 2017

Overview

Planet Creator is a VR experience for the HTC Vive that let's players experience and take part in planet formation. It focuses on mixing experimentation and puzzles to teach players about the formation and chemical composition of planets in our solar system. Jump ahead to the result.

Role

  • UI Design
  • UX Design

Contributions

  • Research & Ideation
  • Competitive Research & Analysis
  • Storyboarding
  • User Testing

Collaborators

  • Joe Bonar, CEO Fire-Point Interactive
  • Maria Herrera
  • Steven Wong
  • Ching-An Lin
  • Muse Yen

Created in partnership with Fire-Point Interactive as part of the Master’s of Digital Media degree at The Centre of Digital Media.

The Problem:

Create a VR experience that combines fun puzzle mechanics with an educational astronomy experience for kids.

The Solution:

Planet Creator teaches players about planet formation by combining different chemical elements with a forming planet (proto-planet) during the early stages of the solar system. Players explore by teleporting between large asteroid platforms, which each contain smaller chemical asteroids, using the artificial satellite platform as a landmark and control center.

Players can expirment in formation of different planets in the Solar System by throwing smaller asteroids of chemical elements into the proto-planet. Different combinations of elements will create each of the planets in our Solar System, roughly corresponding to their actual chemical composition.

Process

Research

We explored other astronomy based VR experiences to find inspiration and identify potential market gaps and opportunities.

Ideation & Brainstorming

We then narrowed our approach down to a number of ideas and learning objectives, and flushed them out developed ideas.

Prototyping

We created lo-fi prototypes to test the puzzles, mechanics, physics, learning outcomes, and overall feasibility.

User Flow

While testing out mechanics and puzzles, we also mapped out each step of the experience to help keep track of the user journey and decisions players would need to make.

Storyboards

A full storyboard of the experience was created to help visualize and review the holistic experience before any production work began.

Production

Lastly, we got down to the nitty gritty of work of building, testing, and iterating on gameplay, along with adding UI, polishing features, animations, and minor enhancements.

User Interface

Colours

Blue hues were used to give the in-game screens a neon glowing effect and distinguish from the background colours. Orange was used solely as an accent for the "Restart" button.

Fonts

Exo DemiBold was used to give the larger text (e.g. Labels, titles) a sort of "Sci-Fi" feeling, while Raleway was used for smaller text to ensure readability.

Interactions

(Click for in-game screenshot.)

In-game Screens

(Click to enlarge)

Result

Challenges and Takeaways

This was the first time any of us on the team had built something in virtual reality, and there were a lot of challenges and learning opportunities including:

  1. One of the biggest challenges we faced was building for HTC Vive in a fully 360 degree environment. Players would become tangled in the cord while exploring and looking around the environment. We solved for this by moving the envinronment around the player, rather than moving the player in the game space.
  2. Unfortunately we didn't have the opportunity test with our target audience (kids under 16) during development, but in later exhibitions we observed that kids picked up the game quickly and enjoyed playing.