Ready, Set, Fence!

The initial steps of creating an adventurous VR experience based on the motion system of sport fencing.


January 2020 - May 2020
(5 months)

Project Context

Develop a VR experience based on a motion system.
Course project at Carnegie Mellon University:
Dynamic Motion and Game Experience

My Role

Game Design, User Testing, 3D Models


Max Hsieh - Technical Lead, Programming
Tahirah Khadija - Story, Art Concept
Stacie Nam - Art Concept, Research


Bring Elements Of A Motion System Into VR

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.


The Challenge of Tracking Player

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?

The Goal

En Garde!

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.

Our Process

Our initial background research included learning the basics of the fencing motion system, through secondary research and an intro fencing class.

Progress in phase 2 and 3 relied heavily on playtesting and receiving feedback to clarify and refine our design.

Key Insights

Insight 1

People will do just about anything in a VR scenario unless guided to do things in a particular way.

Insight 2

People tend to be very sensitive to elements of their surrounding game environment and their proximity to these elements.


A scene from a VR game

Coaching Players With Environmental Cues

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.

Just A Start

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.

What I Learned

Prototyping & Lateral Thinking

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.

Possible Next Steps

Ready, Set... Next

AI Opponent:
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.

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