Weird Reality Localized MultiUser VR Platform
Guided VR experiences for groups
With the combined forces of four veterans in different areas of expertise, we started on a social Virtual Reality concept, from the ground up and with no external investors.
With the main target to offer a rent-able, easy to set up, multi user VR product for the event industry, which allowed injecting custom content.
In other words a VR experience for a small group (6-10 persons) in which one person is the host who leads the group through the experience. That can be a VR presentation of a product, a team building exercise, a training, educational experience or a combination of these in some form.
Interaction models can vary from only the host who can interact with the environment on one end, to full interactive environments and objects for all players.
My focus as co-founder was R&D and development of all VR and Interactive components.
This meant developing a few key components as:
Players with privileges / roles / data / settings
Corresponding custom avatar system
Operator / Server managing player, system, scene -settings across network
And core networked aware functionalities as:
Group teleportation and safe spots
3D Object components as Highlight-able, Click-able, Grab-able, Edit-able, etc
Guide features as pointing, highlighting, spawning, scene changes, scene actions, etc
Additionally we thought about tracked spatial aware modules, i.e. heat generators (campfire), fans (wind from window), etc. by using Vive trackers and small computers or Arduino-like brains.
In the prototype this did not have a high priority.
As the experience is with a group of people that are physically together, we needed good spatial audio system to communicate audio cues to the users. Research en testing was done on location.
Using HTC Vive and their SteamVR tracking system made it possible to use an area of 5x5 meters. We tried extending that by hacking the lighthouses and separate light flashes from laser, sadly internally the data was capped at 6 meter distance. We also did experiments with VR-backpacks and wireless video transmitters to see which approaches are valid for groups.
Software architecture and software development.
3D assets, prototyping, R&D, team management.
Thefirstfloor; Software Architecture, Development, 3D assets / EvoCreate; Creative, Technical, Sales / Burmester; Hardware, Technical / AvActive; Marketing, Sales
Tags: Unity3D, VR, Events, Interactive, Immersive, Social, MultiUser
Be nice to the user
Aiming at a group of people, it's hard to predict how much experience the end-user will have. Learning from other fields as theater, game mechanics and earlier projects, we developed a global runthrough scenario.
A user would start in a calm environment to get used to the HMD and controllers, in this environment a mirror will pop up that gives feedback on your representation as an avatar.
Also this is the transformation from the real world into the Weird Reality.
The next space is with multiple people including the host. Here the user sees the other people in VR too and get's some basic interaction instructions. After that the whole group jumps into the actual experience.
When that is finished the user comes back to the empty calm space and is then instructed to remove the hardware.
The "Stuhl'O'Mat 3000"
In order to wrap our heads around the scope of opportunities and possibilities of a MultiUser VR experience, we defined a subject and an example experience for it. This was inspired on the manufacturing industry and had a educational part build into it.
You enter the factory hall together with the guide, while he does a short introduction the zoomer goes of and all machines shut down. Each machine does a crucial part in the total process of making a chair. With guidance of the guide it is your task to reprogram all the machines again to product the correct chair.
We ran the experience with a testteam of about 50 people and collected all kinds of data; task-completion times, errors, amounts of attempts, order of interaction, etc. Also we had the participants fill in an questionnaire afterwards. This way we learned a lot about the users vision on the whole concept.