Week 2: Refining Project Scope
Monday 7th - Wednesday 9th February 2022
WEEK 2 -
TO DO: REFINE THE SCOPE
PURPOSE FOR TODAY
Last week, we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to refine the scope to a more suitable scale, to make development more efficient and time more manageable. We must ensure that all necessary features remain and to not disregard the most significant elements of our project. Kiera and I spoke about what needs to be changed and came to the conclusion that it would be best to disregard the supportive application idea. By the end of today I am hoping to have a more refined scope by outlining our current issues and ways to overcome them.
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING?
I plan to begin the day by listing out the current issues with our project scope and brainstorming ways to overcome them. Kiera and I will discuss the parts of our scope that we think could be scrapped and come to a conclusion for a smaller more manageable project scope. This will involve simplifying our original idea into a clearer gameplay loop, which we can plan around in a more realistic fashion. This will also involve adjusting our planning/scheduling for the next 11-12 weeks as we will be removing elements we planned for.
GOALS FOR THE DAY
The goal for today is to document the changes that will be made to the scope. Over the next few days, we will be focusing on refining an idea and brainstorming ways we can progress with this to start development.
TEAM WORK - WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
We're going to begin this task by looking at our original project proposal and evaluating what needs to be changed, ways we can do this and disregarding unnecessary elements.
PLAN FOR THE WEEK
Outline current issues with the scope, ways to overcome them
How we plan to simplify the game idea, brainstorm & create new gameplay loop
Aims for design - requirements for gameplay and how we can do this
Player Experience - making choices. Input method? Physical space?
Next steps plan - ideation, gameplay, concepts.
Original Project Proposal: https://www.notion.so/The-Immersive-Safe-Space-e9bece5e9b0d44c7ba808f86b85716d4
REDUCING THE SCALE OF OUR SCOPE
In my sketchbook on page two/three, I have begun to outline the issues with our Project Proposal and mindmap the most important elements of our game.
CURRENT ISSUES WITH PROPOSAL
The size of our scope is the biggest issue as of right now which we were able to overcome by removing the mobile game idea. An issue for us is that we are a 2 person team with big goals, some of which might not be achievable in a short amount of time. We are limited due to our 12 weeks of development and personal capabilities/skill-sets, so between us we make sure task distribution is fair and do-able. We also feel as though the supportive application took the 'limelight' away from the physical experience idea so would be best as a singular gameplay experience.
HOW WE WILL OVERCOME THEM
After listing out the most and least important components of our game, I was able to create a simplified gameplay experience focusing mainly on the physical space. This already is much clearer and seems more manageable for us both. Now we have this, our highest priority is to continue with the design of the experience, highlighting what interactions might be and our chosen method of input. By the end of this week, we should have established ideas for interactions/mechanics and finalised on this. Then we can finalise our scope by listing assets, mechanics and other concluded components.
WHAT IS THE IDEA?
"The immersive safe space"
Players interact and engage with a fully immersive 360 degree environment of soothing visuals and sound.
Players are rewarded with an accessible safe space on campus during times of desperate need. Players are rewarded with the regulation of emotions that may be causing them discomfort or distress.
Players have the opportunity to interact with a mixed reality space and listen to calming music. The space provides them with a playful intervention accessible whenever they need, as a method of escapism and health support.
STORYBOARD FROM LAST SEMESTER
WHY HAVE WE CHOSEN THIS CONCEPT?
We have chosen to focus on developing the physical space experience because we believe this experience on its own will be just as powerful in terms of achieving our essential experience and goals for our final major project. Keeping this in mind, for this last Semester we wanted to produce something eye-grabbing and unique which showcases both our passions and skillsets. This experience on its own has the potential to be something great and we feel if we focused our time on this primarily, we can guarantee a successful outcome. In terms of our target audience, we know this experience is something that will be appreciated by many and to develop this idea will show just how determined we are to promote well-being, make change and also raise awareness.
PURPOSE OF THE EXPERIENCE
As covered before, the purpose of this gameplay experience will be to provide players with a personal safe space on campus which combines both physical and digital worlds. The use of a physical space allows us to achieve full immersion in-game, meaning players will become deeply involved in their surroundings and engage with their senses. (Through sound, visuals and interactions) An important part of our experience is for players to focus on the present moment, and provide them with the space to do so. The space will be designed to evoke feelings of calm and relaxation in players, as discovered within our Semester One research and Project Proposal.
AIMS & REQUIREMENTS FOR DESIGN
Gameplay must be designed to require focus, be playful and engaging yet subtle and calm. In terms of mechanics and interactions, we decided previously that these should be kept to a minimum as we don't want to take the focus away from their surroundings. We still aim for players to be able to freely observe, roam and become familiar with their surroundings, as this is key to self-care and regulation. Gameplay shouldn't require too much thought and avoid causing frustration, so we must begin by thinking about what these interactions could be.
As for the visual design, the subject matter/content and theme is what we must consider next. We intend to project an environment around the space but we have not yet decided upon what the environment will be and which art style we will produce it in. We have ideas but it should be up to our target audience and we plan to gather this information through surveys. The design of the environment should appeal to players and engage them, yet not be too overpowering or overloaded with colour/animations etc. If we choose to include UI for the Menu and Pause screens, this must be kept as intuitive as possible and similar to gameplay, not require too much thought.
In terms of Sound Design, we are aware of our requirements for this as I did a lot of research into the direction for our sound last Semester. We know of the particular musical patterns we can use to evoke our chosen feeling/emotion and we plan to communicate this with our Sound Designer once we have a detailed Sound Bible in place! The requirements of our sound include a uniquely composed Piano soundtrack and ambient sound to accompany this in our chosen environment.
REFINING PLAYER EXPERIENCE
Final choices for space? What will players be doing in the space? How will they be interacting and what are our input methods?
After discussing with Kiera and course leader Adam we decided to make a quick decision to go forward with the construction of our own box. This choice is because we'd love to showcase our game at the Arcade Event in London and using the 6m Cylinder would mean this wouldn't be possible. If we were to choose the 6m Cylinder, we would have to create a small documentary of gameplay rather than giving guests the opportunity to play themselves. Because of this, we have decided to go through with our own construction and will take the necessary steps to have this built as soon as we can. This also means we will have to understand how to project a Unity project onto 4 different screens - a discussion with lecturer James will be necessary!
Last Semester, Kiera and I drew up concepts for the physical box with the appropriate measurements and plan to forward these to the Fine Art department to ensure we can get it built:
METHODS OF INPUT
Our methods of input were decided on as a result of the limitations of the physical space. During Semester One we established our choices of input to be the following:
Controllers (PS5 or Touch Controllers)
After discussion, Kiera and I have chosen Oculus Quest 2 Touch Controllers to be our method of player input. This will allow players to interact with the space using physical interactions such as clenching, pointing and gripping, while being provided with haptics to stimulate sense of touch. Kiera and I both have these controllers ourselves so can use these for prototyping and testing with users.
Our next steps for this will be to map out how the controllers function and ideas for how players will interact. We can then link this to our subject matter and mechanics. Rather than inputting primarily through buttons or switches, players can use physical movement to do so - this also links to encouraging physical regulation. (Slow movements and motion are important)
OCULUS QUEST 2 TOUCH CONTROLLER MAPPING:
HOW WE WILL USE THEM:
Players will interact with the space using Touch Controllers. Meaning, players will use physical movement which will then be translated into the digital world. Oculus Quest 2 Touch Controllers are easy to use, comfortable and intuitive - perfect for our target audience regarding the situation they may be in.
For the main gameplay experience, players could be able to control something on screen which might then change the world in some way or provide them with agency. Thinking back to our regulation research, these interactions could be customising the environment in some way, or revealing parts of the space to observe.
INTERACTIONS AND MECHANICS
What are the possibilities of this input?
Using my own knowledge and understanding of what Touch Controllers can do and how players can use them, I'd like to brainstorm interactions using these controllers in the space. The possibilities with these controllers are limitless so it'll be a good idea to start thinking about what our players will be doing exactly.
Physical movement translated into physical space
Pick up objects
Put down objects
EXAMPLES OF TOUCH CONTROLLERS IN USE:
OCULUS TOUCH: HOW DO THEY WORK?
"Oculus Touch is the motion controller system used in VR systems"
The touch controllers "operate like a single gamepad" and allows players to translate physical body movement into a virtual world. They provide full motion tracking of a players hands and translates this into Virtual Reality. They consist of the same functions as a normal controller, including analog sticks and triggers.
HOW DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK?
Each button on each controller has a number of "capacitive sensors" which can locate the players fingers once used or when rested. The outcome of this allows players to form gestures like pointing fingers or forming a fist. Essentially, this enables players to use physical gestures and completely digitise them. They also consist of LEDs which track the position of the controller in the virtual world which allows them to move their hands and rotate them however they'd like.
Allows you to interact with physical body movement and gestures
Intuitive - translates complex gestures for example grab, pick up and point.
Comfortable - fits well in hand and very lightweight.
Haptic feedback - increases sense of immersion by stimulating realistic interactions in the virtual world.
Engages sense of touch.
"Six degrees of freedom" - tracks your hands forward, back, left, right, up and down!
Only difference to traditional controllers/gamepads is no d-pad.
HOW CAN WE USE THEM? WHY ARE THEY GOOD?
Being familiar with the use of touch controllers already, I know that they can essentially be used in any way that we imagine! The great thing about these controllers is that they allow players to use natural physical movement to interact in their digital world, rather than more traditional methods of gaming such as controllers. In terms of our project, they will be a great way to encourage slow body movement and control over their own bodies. Looking back at the requirements for gameplay, it must be engaging as well as incorporate elements of relaxing play - as this is our main focus. Touch Controllers will allow players to have agency over their environment by controlling the way they move their body. We can be in control of this - by providing players with gameplay that encourage them to move slowly and act upon the things they see.
PROGRESS REFLECTION - Wednesday 9th April
We've made some good decisions in the last few days regarding our scope and how we can make things more manageable without losing the heart of our experience. In the last few days we have come to conclusions based on methods of input and physical spaces as well as briefly touched upon how we can design gameplay to fulfil our intended player experience. As this is the most important part of our experience, during the ideation stage, we must evaluate ways in which different gameplay can affect the way the player thinks, acts and feels.
NEXT STEPS FOR THE TEAM
Now we have settled with our new choices, it's time for us to begin ideation. Using our new requirements (space and input method) we can brainstorm gameplay ideas and move forward with the design of our game. We intend to carry out a similar process to how we did in Semester 1, but as we only have 11 weeks left for development, we must be rapid with our decision-making and not spend too much time contemplating with ideas. As long as our player experience is achieved through the setup of our idea, thinking about gameplay ideas will not be a problem.