Newsletter Week 13

Our week In Recall

Week 13 was a crunch week for Project Spearhead. In this week our objectives were to progress in prototypes 5 and 6, complete our documentation, and prepare for softs.

What we Accomplished

The prototype code named “Rift and the Bees” has been given a Wall Street theme. In this game you will collect coins and dodge gavels as you try to collect the most money in two minutes. Our gameplay explores features such as using a monitor with the Oculus Rift as a second screen, treating the Oculus Rift as a game object and, position tracking of the Oculus Rift. We chose these features because we believe that they are likely to become common mechanics in future games.

The other current prototype is codenamed “Rift in the Wall”. We hit our stride this week in the direction of the game. We decided focus gameplay off of a more developed version of the rocket inverted controls test. In “Rift in the Wall” Players will be forced to navigate a course of Obstacles as they continue to speed up. The player can grow, shrink, or rotate their avatar using the Razer Hydra, while they control their direction with the rotations of the Oculus Rift.


Austin Testing Prototype 6

Along with our prototypes, we completed our Softs preparation and finalized the documentation covering our tests. Our document is 48 pages long and discusses our data collected, our hypotheses and our conclusions. In preparation for Softs, we began packaging our tests and prototypes into videos for our team promo and the beginning of our Softs presentation.


Frank Testing Riftdaq

What’s Next

Next week, Softs and Thanksgiving will take up most of our week, but we plan on beginning the process of polishing our prototypes and creating our ETC exhibit.

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Newsletter Week 12

Our week In Recall

This is the 12th week of the project and we just finished wrapping up prototypes 3 and 4. Our main focus this week was to balance numbers in Rift Swarm and add more levels to Headless Horseman. We also began brainstorming for next two prototypes

What we Accomplished

Rift Swarm was in a state where all the mechanics were done but a lot of numbers needed to be balanced. The laser was doing too much damage thereby making the turrets and walls somewhat useless. So it was essential to spend time and balance out those values. Next step was to add sound effects and music to the experience. Sound effects were crucial for the experience, as they mentioned where the enemies were getting spawned. With these changes in place, we were successful in creating a “poor man’s holodeck” world and finally wrapped up Rift Swarm.


Rift Swarm

Headless Horseman got trickier levels dealing with visibility and navigating the body. The overall game was also shortened and fine tuned in order to produce a strong interest curve.


Headless Horseman Puzzle layout

The rest of the week was spent brainstorming for the next two prototypes. We knew that we wanted to make one futuristic prototype which uses the position tracking feature. We wanted to understand how this would impact designing for the oculus rift. We also wanted to incorporate the Razer Hydra in a meaningful way. One of our biggest challenges was to think simple because documenting for softs was also on our timeline for the next week.

What’s Next

The next step is to figure out game design elements for the position tracking prototype and a simple design for the Razer Hydra game. In addition documentation is going on for softs.

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Newsletter Week 11

Our week In Recall

This is our 11th week working on Project Spearhead and the second week working on prototypes 3 and 4. Our main focus this week was to finish our current prototypes. Our constant secondary focus was to continue our documentation and work towards getting our deliverables out to the public.

What we Accomplished

When we began this week we had very rough mock ups of Prototypes 3 and 4. In regards to ‘Werewolves and Vampires’ (now officially ‘Rift Swarm’) we had the stage, the main tower, and the laser in place. Since then we’ve created models and textures for four difference enemies and three different towers. Each of those were also given different properties and balanced in relation to each other.


Our four different enemy units.






In addition, we added a system for lives, the path finding system for the enemies, and created a logic system for spawning the enemy units. Lastly, as part of our polishing we created sounds for the weapons firing, titles screens, and particle effects for the enemies and main laser.


The two title screens for our prototypes.


Regarding ‘Headless Horseman’, last week we were able to control a 3D character and move the camera with a PS Move controller. This week we’ve refined the movement of the head (in-game camera) to allow for a greater range of motion and we’ve added the ability to throw your head around the level and recall it back to your head. Once this ability was in play we added a accuracy meter that allowed you to control exactly where you were throwing your head. From there we concentrated on creating a single level that pushed you to utilize both of these mechanics. For instance, in order to pass through a door, you have to toss your head onto one button,
turn around, and guide your body onto another button, then the door will open.

The last thing we accomplished was to submit our project to the IEEEVR 2014 conference to give a tutorial on Experimental Game Design for the Oculus Rift. We should hear back from them by the end of the month.

What’s Next

The next step is to keep pushing on. We will begin brainstorming for our next two prototypes and then start working on them. In addition, we are compiling our data and conclusions and looking for places to showcase our work.

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Newsletter Week 10

Our week In Recall

This week saw the very beginnings of our third and forth prototypes. We worked on getting the basic mechanics added to our prototypes, meeting with professors, and deciding on the more general aspects of our designs and art styles. In addition we continued our efforts to complete our tests and organize the data that we have gathered in the past. Particularly we are focusing on presenting our data in a easily read and understood way that will be of us to others outside the project.

What we Accomplished

As a recap, our next two prototypes are code named ‘Werewolves and Vampires’ and ‘Headless Horseman’. ‘Werewolves and Vampires’ is a new form of tower defense. The player will use a continuous laser firing from the in game camera to eliminate enemies and activate ground turrent which will help destory enemies. Their point of view will be fixed on top of a plateau and they will have to spin around (360 degrees) in their chair in order to keep track of the entire battlefield.
The first step in this prototype was to get the Oculus Camera set up in the position shown in the previous picture. We needed to see what it was like the be fixed in a single position and have to turn your entire body to see the whole game area. The result was a ‘poor man’s holodeck’. It was immersive and unique without needing to mimic reality.


The second prototype, ‘Headless Horseman’ was centered around the concept of holding your head in one hand. The player would use the PS Move to actually hold the in game camera, which would be connected to the Oculus Rift screen. Our second mechanic was the ability to throw the player’s head around the map in order to see over walls and around barriers.
The first step to this prototype was to get the PS Move and Oculus to talk to each other. This required the use of Move.Me, a Playstation add-on. Once this was done, Frank created a mock up of our mechanic and after playing for a while we concluded that it was a strange but not uncomfortable experience.
Our final accomplishment this week was completing our Walking Test with the Oculus. We compared walking blindfolded with walking with an Oculus Rift loaded with a virtual world. In short we learned that while walking with an OR can be very distracting the device can provide a fixed point of reference which allows the user to walk in a straight line.

What’s Next

We are pushing forward on the art assets and the implementation of the secondary mechanics in each of the prototypes.

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Newsletter Week 9

Our week In Recall

Week 9 started out with our ‘Halves’ presentation to the faculty. ‘Halves’ is requirement of the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), we present the progress and findings of our project to the ETC faculty along with our plan for the rest of our time. After the presentation was over we turned our attention towards finishing our first two prototypes: 3rd Person Rig and Space Bball. According to our schedule this is our last week to work on these two projects.

What we Accomplished

For ‘Halves’ we focused on presenting our entire project, both the tests and the prototypes. Instead of focusing on only what we were currently working on or what our plans were we showcased our complete catalog of work. In conjunction with this we touched on the conclusions we had drawn in regards to the tests we conducted. Towards the end of our presentation we showcased our Space Bball prototype and performed a live demonstration of our 3rd Person Rig. And finally we showed our rough outline for the rest of the project. This included our decision to couple the Oculus with four different outside technologies: Organic Motion, PS Move, Kinect, and the Razer Hydra.


3D mount for the 3rd Person Rig



Early build of Space Bball

What’s Next

We have a plan to brainstorm and begin designing our next two prototypes on Monday.  We are entering our next two week production cycle.

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Newsletter Week 8

Our week In Recall

Week 8 was dedicated to refining our firsts two prototypes: 3rd Person Rig and Space Bball and preparing for our ‘Halves’ presentation to the faculty. Halves’ is requirement of the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), we present the progress and findings of our project to the ETC faculty along with our plan for the rest of the semester.

What we Accomplished

The greatest thing we accomplished was building the backpack rig fro the 3rd Person Rig and organizing our presentation for halves. This has been a tough week fro the team but we are confident that we are progressing at a good pace. We are also learning many new things about the limitation of the Occulus Rift.

You may view out halves presentation through the Youtube link above. The presentation took place Monday of Week 9. Feedback is discussed in Newsletter Week 9

What’s Next

Once Halves prepearation is over we will continue to brainstorm our next prototypes and finialize our first two prototypes: 3rd Person Rig and Space Bball.

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Newsletter Week 7

Our week In Recall

At the very end of last week our entire team packed up and headed down to Austin, TX for the brand new Captivate Conference. We were there until Thursday of this week attending lectures and talking to fellow developers.

What we Accomplished

The best thing we did this week was bring an Oculus with us to Texas. This allowed us to show off our work to all of the developers and companies that were visiting the conference. On Monday we talked to the conference organizers and got permission to set up a booth in one of the unused spaces.


Frank at our make shift booth at Captivate.


As a result of our booth we managed to make contact with another team who is working with the Oculus Rift in Iceland. Also we talked to a manager of a Start Up Incubator who was interested in possibly working with our project. All in all our trip to Captivate was incredible.

On our way back we decided to try something we imagine hasn’t been done before: play Oculus on an airplane.


Our airplane tray table set up.

It worked surprising well, even through turbulence.

What’s Next

Once we got back to the ETC we had a meeting and laid out our first two prototypes we’re going to create: a basketball game and a 3rd Person Camera Rig with 3D and AR.

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Newsletter Week 6

Our week In Recall

The week of the great transition. Around week 3 we decided that after quarters we would spend one week finishing up any leftover tests and move on to prototypes. Quarters was week 5 and so this week, week 6 was our final week for testing. It ended up being a perfect week to transition. We spent most of the week focused on finishing up our last few tests and getting them ready for users. But we also ended up working on two prototypes, planning a conference visit, and presenting to two groups of visitors.

What we Accomplished

The last of our tests are finished. Our last categories were called Control Variation Tests and Motion Tests. The former included a 180-Degree Spin test, a Sensitivity test, and an Axis Inversion test. These were tested on Friday, while the latter catagory will be tested over the next few weeks as they take far more time to complete.

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Our 180-Degree Test, users will have to find the ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ boxes after the camera turns completely around.


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Our Inverted Y-Axis test. Users will have to navigate two similar tunnels, one with normal controls, the other with an inverted y-axis.


The tests were only a small part of our week. The rest of the time we spent working out what we wanted our first prototype to be. So far that looks to be a toss up between our 3rd-Person rig, and a Basketball game. Alex spent all Wednesday researching ways to create a backpack rig to hold a camera behind someone and Tushar worked on the Basketball on Friday so they could have something to show in Austin. Speaking of which, that was the third focus of this week. Project Spearhead is going to Captivate. We planned our trip and are leaving early Saturday morning to spend three days at the Captivate conference in Austin, Texas. Stay tuned to our website, we’ll be updating with pictures from our trip.

What’s Next

In the short term we’re focused on the Captivate Conference and getting as much as we can from that. We’re bringing an Oculus with us and will try to showcase as much of our work as possible.

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Newsletter Week 5

Our week In Recall

Week 5 was mainly about prepping for quarters. As a part of our ETC requirements we have to present our progress to the faculty in process called quarters. Basically the faculty walk around in groups of 3 or 4 and attend 20 minute presentations given by the teams. The main function is to get a handle on what each team is planning to do and whether or not their project is heading in a direction the faculty deems reasonable. Its not a graded exercise; the
purpose is to give teams feedback and help them plot out the rest of their semester.

Other that we were focused on moving forward with our next two categories of testing, control and motion.

What we Accomplished

Our quarters presentation went well. After checking in with a few faculty members and going over the impressions each of the team members had we’re going to count this as a win. The first objective and one of the most critical things to achieve during quarters is to accurately communicate what the project is to the faculty. We managed to achieve this by displaying the finished deliverables in the form of the tests we’ve been working on. We had several of these booted up for the faculty to try out. This gave them a first hand look at the tests we are creating and how we are conducting them. We also detailed our semester schedule and predictions on the number of tests/prototypes we are looking to complete. We supplemented these numbers with our definitions of tests and prototypes. Tests are smaller Unity executables that help us learn about the Oculus Rift. We are planning to have at least 14 of these completed. Prototypes are larger deliverables and more focused on being a fun and unique Oculus Rift mini-game. We plan to have somewhere between 5 and 10 of these by the end of the semester, depending on how in-depth we take each one.


The format we used to present our deliverables.

The feedback we’ve received from quarters has been positive across the board. Everyone understands what we’re trying to do, and agrees with our current approach. Beyond that, the faculty was pleased with our current progress of 8 finished deliverables. In short, we’re headed on the right path.

What’s Next

We’re moving into our final week of testing, week 6 is the deadline we’ve imposed on ourselves. This week we’re focused on finishing the Control and Motion Tests and setting up our move onto Prototypes.

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Newsletter Week 4

Our week In Recall

This week was all about getting work down and building as many tests as possible. Our goal is to go into Quarters next week with as many completed deliverables as possible. We’ve decided to end the testing phase of our project one week after Quartersso we moving faster than we originally planned. The beginning of the week saw our first ever testing session and by the end of the week we had enough tests completed to start planning another. In addition we finished setting up control schemes that will act as starting blocks for the next couple groups of tests. Last week we completely planned out the first half of our semester; this week we made major progress towards that plan.

What we Accomplished

On Sunday we had our first major testing day. We had ten people come in and try each of our Gesture Tests. Some of our inital observations include: moving the camera in small way does not cause discomfort, and it is possible to make small manuevers using the Oculus’s orientation tracking. After the testing was over we turned to our two main tasks for the week. Tushar and Frank were focusing on creating basic control schemes that would be used throughout the semester. Throughout the week they created five different schemes including one that works with an X-box 360 controller and one that works with the Razer Hydra motion controller. Meanwhile Austin and Alex were working on the next set of tests. Each of these tests had to do with analyzing compatible forms of art on the Oculus. We are aware that certain colors and certain textures can exacerbate the simulator sickness that sometimes occurs when using the Oculus and so we created tests to check for which colors were problematic. Likewise, fonts and text placement is a recurring problem for designers when developing for the Oculus, so we created tests to learn more about the affordances of the device in regards to those two areas.


Example of our font test.

What’s Next

We plan to hold a second testing session on Sunday, with a third on Tuesday so that we can invite some faculty members. Beyond testing we will begin working a set of tests that focuses on control variations.

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