The prompt for this project was to develop a motion-controlled VR experience based on a real-world motion system.
This could have been based on a sport, a performance art, a martial art, etc.
As we began to consider motion systems to adapt to VR and how we might do this, we soon realized a major challenge would be how to coach players to use a particular motion system with a relatively limited ability to track their movement.
How do we track movements to give corrections or praise?
After thinking through the pros and cons of various motion systems, our team decided to explore the potential of sport fencing.
Not only is fencing an exciting and dynamic motion system, its equipment lends itself well to a VR hand controller.
Our goal was to incorporate the elements of fencing into a VR experience in a meaningful and fun way.
People will do just about anything in a VR scenario unless guided to do things in a particular way.
People tend to be very sensitive to elements of their surrounding game environment and their proximity to these elements.
Rather than giving players direct feedback based on their tracked motions, we wanted to create a scenario in which the "natural" motions to use would be those found in fencing.
A narrow bridge mimics the raised platform of sport fencing. The potential to fall off the bridge guides the player to advance and retreat in a straight line.
Overall, the team and our instructor were pleased with the progress we made during the semester and would very much like to have continued developing this experience. At the close of this academic project, we had mapped out a great start to a VR experience.
This start is demonstrated in a demo video hosted on YouTube.
The biggest lessons I took from this project was sometimes playtesting a rough prototype is the best way to begin understanding unfamiliar challenges.
I also learned that user experience design isn’t necessarily about leveraging technology, like tracking movement. A more subtle approach based on human experience can be even more powerful.
An important aspect to develop would be a highly interactive AI opponent that could respond as a fencing opponent. We had only just begun researching character rigging and AI behavior animations.
NPC Coach & Tutorial:
We also have plans for an initial tutorial where an NPC advocate would present the story and demonstrate some of the basic forms and movements of sport fencing.
UI, Graphics, Narrative:
A third "next step" for this project would be developing a VR UI and refining the graphics and game narrative.