Althea


Project Info

Duration 3 weeks (Nov 07 - 21, 2017)
Team Size 5 (2 programmers + 2 artists + 1 sound designer)
Assigned Theme Make an interactive experience for festival
Platform 2 Networked Oculus Touches
Team members Danke Luo, Fangda Luo, Yanran Han, Yutian Zhang
My Contributions Lead design, network/gameplay programming, playtesting

Notable Contributions

Programming:

  1. Picked up Unity Networking and implemented 2-play cooperative gameplay with it, which includes a "one-click" pairing system.
  2. Implemented gameplay systems where interactions feel solid and rich feedbacks are given. For example, when player's hand touches a rock, the rock changes color indicating that it can be picked up.
  3. Collaborated with artists to make great visuals that best serve gameplay, while keeping comfortable frame rates.

Design:

  1. Designed and iterated on iteractions that make players feel connected with each other and care about each other. Some playtesters hugged each other after playing the game. Got praised by Jesse Schell as "Very inventive".
  2. Tuned the controls to a degree that only few playtesters reported motion sickness after playing.
  3. Conducted playtest sessions to find out what works and what not; iterated on design based on findings to make the game understandable and enjoyable event for naïve guests (who've never played VR games before).

Gameplay Video


Introduction

Althea is a 2-player VR game on Oculus, where players cooperate with each other to overcome obstacles and reach their destination. Players build up relationship during the journey through cooperative interactions and experience the world with stunning visuals, haunting music and unique gameplay.

Design Phiolosophy

I firmly believe that each game should have a clear design goal that every design decision should serve, and several design pillars that every design decision should follow. For Althea, the goal is to make a game that let players feel strongly connected with eacher after playing, and gain faith for life.

A design problem: damage players in VR

Unlike games on PC, it's tricky to like the players know that they are damaged in VR. On PC, designers can use full screen effects like in Call of Duty series, or screen shaking, or move players around depending on the damage source. In VR, if any one of these are designed and implemented improperly, motion sickness will come to the player quickly.

The solution we came up with is to use post-processing effects + sound effects + slight movement of player. The post-processing effects make the image blurring and produce longer visual staying, which simulates real life scenarios. Sound effects enhance the signal of getting hit. And as the image is blurry, slightly moving the player will not cause much motion sickness.