A virtual world of fantasy ancient palace
December 2019 (4 weeks)
3 designers, 1 architect
Unreal, Blueprint, Rhino
This VR experience is a representation of ancient Chinese palace and how people pursued prestige and property. There are three scenes as shown in the diagram below. There are three designers/programmers and one architect in our team. Each designer is in charge of the interaction of one scene. I am in charge of scene #1.
The main scene is a Chinese style palace courtyard with brick rubble, bridges, lanterns, cherry trees, bushes and so on. There are two bridges in the main scene, which are the entrance and the exit. There’s only one path that the player can get to the end but he can walk around and explore the scene. There are two scrolls in the main scene and the surface is the screenshot of another scene where the player will get in when he approaches the scrolls. In this way, there’s a 2D to 3D interactivity. The background music is called Jin Li Chao (锦鲤抄), which is a classic Chinese style music. In Scene #1, the player is transported to ancient China to experience the life as an officer living in the great palace. While exploring the palace, the play wants to find and trigger the two scrolls (one is at the first door after the bridge and the other is at the top of a temple) to be teleported to the other two scenes respectively. My role includes concept design, scene design, rendering and programming.
sound on :)
In Scene #2, the play enters a room full of treasure and wants to get it. When the player is approaching the treasure, it breaks and the pillars in the room fall down and the treasure disappears. This indicates that people can never get the property that doesn't belong to them and we can't be too greedy. After finishing the interaction in scene #2, the player will be teleported back to scene #1 and continue to find the second scroll.
In Scene #3, the player is on the road to promotion. There’s a crown at the end of the road. When the play is approaching to the crown, the shining light around it disappears. This is a waterfall environment, and there is a stone path on top of the water. At the other end of the path, there is a shining crown that represents power and authority, which is very appealing in contrast with the barren background. The player will walk along the path towards the crown and try to pick it up. However, at the moment he tries to pick it up, the crown and the whole water environment get frozen immediately. A few seconds later the player will get teleported back to the main scene.
Here are some screenshots of the interactions we developed in Bluprint.
Final Step and Testing
After my team members had completed their scenes, we combined all our levels together. This was done by streaming new levels through the blueprint from a persistent level.
After all the scenes and narration were strung together, we sent out a call for internal testers. We received a lot of valuable feedback including:
Might be helpful to add some text instruction to enhance the narrative since the story background is hugely culture based, and add feedback after each interaction.
Sometimes users found it difficult to find the trigger point in the scene. To prevent viewer frustration, we can add some signifiers.
The visual style of three scenes could be more consistent.
Takeaway and Looking Forward
This is my first time get in touch with VR and Unreal, and it's definitely a great and satisfying experience of making our fantasy into "virtual" reality. I learned the basic of visual storytelling, computer graphics, rendering and practiced design thinking a lot. Due to time constraint, we fleshed out our idea in a rush way and didn’t get the chance to polish the assets and environments. In the future, we would like to further develop the interactions and visual designs as well as continuing to explore the broad field of VR and interaction design.