My final project is a continuation of my portrait of my grandma. I got a lot of good feedback from class last week and made some major structural changes to the experience. The first issue I chose to tackle was the confusion regarding movement. Many people pointed out that the flow of this experience is a little bit obscure. It’s not very clear that players should teleport between islands and that they must hit every single island in order to trigger all the intended events.
I decided to keep the in small islands but as a conveyer system that moves the player between major islands.
The small islands have a script attached to them that moves them between waypoints. The waypoints in this picture are the tiny red cubes circled in black. A big problem with this system is trying to move the island between waypoints without rotating the island. I had to rotate several of the waypoints to prevent the island from going crazy and throwing the player off.
When the experience starts, the player will be at the far corner of the Childhood island. They will have a full view of what is on the island and see the scope of what they can explore.
I added a fence around the island to show players that they cannot leave the island by jumping off. The wooden sign with a clock pointing to the small island indicates where players should go when they want to move on to another time period. Just like before, when the player enters the small island, the large island will fall out of the sky and self destruct after 12 seconds. However, I did add a “Realistic Earthquake” sound effect to help indicate the island’s fall. It sounds a lot like a large structure toppling over in movies.
Finally, as a fun addition, I scaled the first island so that everything seemed really big to emphasize my grandma’s age.
A potential issue with this setup is that players may not realize they cannot return after leaving an island. If they leave the first island prematurely, they would be surprised when they turn around to see the first island gone. I haven’t figured out a good way to show this without showing a board full of text.
Island 2 (Adulthood) is now less of an “avoid the snake” game, and more of a somber reflection of my grandma’s life as a young adult. I stopped using the fence to help players not fall off the edge of the island. Instead, I had invisible box colliders around the perimeter of the island to prevent players from falling off.
- Books that show my grandma’s time at medical school.
- Family portrait that can be picked up and looked at. When dropped, it will always snap back into place.
- A pair of baby shoes. My mom was born soon after my grandma was assigned to the mountains to work as a doctor.
- A stethoscope. Picking this up will play a looping audio clip of a heart beating and faint baby cries.
I added a fourth island in between Adulthood and Old age called “Middle Age”. It represents my grandma’s 40s where she lived a relatively quiet life in Hangzhou with her family. The island is model of her one room apartment that she shared with my grandpa and my mom. It’s a very tiny and cramped space, which worked well for this island space. This screenshot was taken before the scripts were added for visibility.
- Backpack and homework. This helps indicate the time period because it shows how my mom has grown from a toddler into a grade school aged child. Players can examine the paper to see my mom’s elementary school name and her grades.
- Slippers for the family. The slippers will “walk” around the island using the same waypoint system that moves the small islands around. They won’t do anything to the player and cannot be interacted with. They represent the family going about their day.
- Table set for three. When the players gets close, they will be able to hear dinnerware sounds ant people chatting.
In the future, I want to integrate the slippers and tableware into a single “event” where the chairs will move when the slippers get near, as if someone is sitting down.
- TV that plays Korean drama. Upon entry, the TV will automatically begin playing a korean drama episode because that is my grandma’s favorite thing to watch on TV.
- Radio from childhood, photos from adulthood, slippers from middle age. Here, remnants of her past are gathered.
- Phone that rings after the player has been on the island for 10 seconds. When physically picked up, it will play a brief recording of my grandma asking the player how they are over the phone in Chinese. It’s very short and somewhat difficult to understand because my grandma didn’t understand that I was recording her talking and she shouldn’t talk about her medical issues too much. After the clip concludes, Unity will switch to a black scene with a “END” text. As of right now, it immediately cuts away to the new scene, which is a little disorienting. In the future, I wish to make the scene fade to black before displaying the text.
I also wanted to help players distinguish between interactive and static objects in the scene. Luckily, this was fairly easy to accomplish thanks to the VR toolkit I installed. VRTK has a built in function that highlights objects that can be picked up and interacted with.
It was a minor fix, but made the entire experience a lot more intuitive for the player.