Rotating Into Unity

Week 9 Updates
  • prototype 3 updates
  • halloween

As Week 9 commences, we have rotated into Unity to begin developing our third prototype. The paper prototype from last week was incredibly valuable because it gave us insightful data that we have leveraged into shaping the environmental visualizations in our experience. Now, we can move into the engine and begin creating the virtual experience. During this week we had meetings with our advisors, John and Ricardo, and with our project consultants, Dave and Mo. These meetings brought a lot of valuable insight into how we wanted to shape our experience. We also encountered a series of challenges, of which we are configuring resolves. 

Challenge 1 – Interface and Interaction

We brainstormed about how the guest should manipulate the music. We knew that we wanted the interaction to be simple and undistracting, and for the interface to be friendly and easy to navigate. During brainstorming, we landed on the idea of switching as the interaction, and a levy system as the interface. 

Guests would be presented with two levers, each responsible for one of the chords in the progression. We thought that giving guest control over each of the chords would allow for more agency. However, we quickly found during internal playtesting and through a conversation with Dave, that there were again, too many interactions. So we decided to refine and simplify the interface by having only one lever with three modes: major, mixed, and minor. Major referred to all chords in the progression being major, while minor referred to all chords in the progression being minor. Mixed referred to a combination of both minor and major. We believe that this new interface will be effective because it reduces the amount of steps to instantly hear the changes in music, and focuses more on the high-level view of the music – the chord progression – instead of the nuts and bolts – the chords.

Challenge 2 – Showing the Differences

Another challenge we faced this week, was figuring out how and if, we wanted to show the representations and differences between the music. We talked about using sheet music of the chord progression, and highlighting the changes when flipping the progression from mixed, to major, to minor. As mentioned in last week’s blog post, the only difference between minor and major, is that in minor, the third shifts down a half step. We decided to abandon this idea under the assumption that sheet music would add unnecessary complexity and confusion to the prototype. This prototype is focused on listening rather than reading.  So, we looked for a more diegetic alternative that could be imbedded into the world. We talked about using symbols such as a light switch as a device to highlight the differences. When the light switch is flipped up, the song is major. When it is flipped down it is minor. However, these ideas all felt like they were adding resistance to the prototype. Our main goal was to have the guest hear and feel and absorb the differences between major and minor, so we decided to abandon the idea of using visuals that highlighted the technical difference – the changes in position – and instead place the focus completely on the music, and secondarily, on the environment visualization. This decision felt like it was fulfilling our prototype goal, while also allowing us to leverage the focus and immersion of VR to create interesting and compelling environmental visualizations. 

Halloween Fun

The end of the week yielded some fun opportunities and engagements as we celebrated Halloween. We carved some pumpkins on Wednesday, and on Friday we handed out candy to the first years. We even had an impromptu Super Smash Bros Tournament that was quite fun. All in all, it was a productive week that ended with a little Halloween cheer. Next week, we will continue developing our prototype as we prepare for the Playtest Day on 11/6. 

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