Back in December 2019 my school launched a new set of projects, called Game Marmalades. These projects would last 4 weeks long with the goal of creating a solid concept ready for pre-production. The projects would be completed by groups of 6 to 9 students, a mix of Visual Artists, Programmers and Designers. The first week of this project would revolve mostly around pitching and gathering team members and the other weeks would be reserved for development.
Our project started off with a list of constraints made by our teachers; our concept would have to include one of all five columns, each consisting of five constraints. We started off with Machines, Clair Obscur, VR/AR, Connections & Extinction level event. From this we started brainstorming further. How can we create a satisfying VR experience in four weeks? How do we solve the age old VR movement problem? This second question became our main focus.
Motion sickness in VR
VR games and VR in general has been struggling with finding ways of introducing movement without making players nauseated or confused. This nauseousness is called simulation sickness and has been reported since people have been making simulators, especially flight simulators. Simulation sickness in VR is primarily caused by a disconnect between the user's senses. There are many small 'fixes' to these problems (with my favorite ones being a virtual nose and getting players drunk before playing), but none of them seem to work for everyone.
We started off with researching our best options, but none really worked for us, until we found a game made in 2019 by other IGAD students called Shattered Lights. Shattered Lights uses something called Room Scale Movement, meaning players have to physically walk in order to move in VR. This requires quite a bit of space, a minimum of 2.5 by 2.5 meters is recommended. Another trick Shattered Lights used was levels created with Non Euclidean Geometry, basically offering the player levels that are 'impossible' in real life.
Non-Euclidean Game Design
With this idea we started prototyping. The demo above was created in the first week of our project to get an idea of the scope and if our idea was even viable.
After the second week our team was expanded with one programmer and two designers, allowing us to start prototyping in a VR environment. For me personally it took some time getting used to non-euclidean level design. My main struggle was that our levels always felt 'cramped' because of the 3x3 meter limit. We managed to remove this feeling by creating huge open spaces where the player couldn't walk towards.
Feel free to take a look at our demo below: