Cutting Edge: Week Eleven

The Work This Week:

This week saw our team completing the first 5 scenes of our experience to present for ETC Playtest Day on Saturday.

New assets completed this week include:

An updated look of the kitchen:

An the cabinet model that goes in it:

An updated look of the bedroom, now with boxes and a suitcase that the main character will be packing before the scene cuts to the driving montage:

And the dresser that goes in the bedroom:

An updated look at the more-polished car model:

As our experience stands now,

  • You drive down a darkened road and are hit by a car
  • A 17-second white frame plays with voiceover describing your accident and people trying to revive you.
  • The scene cuts to you on the beach. Once the guest picks up the sand tool and begins interacting with the sand castle in front of him/her, the scene shifts to your bedroom.
  • You put the sand tool away and begin moving boxes around, including a suitcase.
  • The transition happens around the suitcase and cuts to you sitting in the backseat of a driving car with the suitcase next to you. (This is a new transition, inspired by a cut from the short film Munchausen by Ari Aster.)
  • A driving montage where you move from the backseat of the car to the front seat, showing your passage from child to adult.

The experience includes newly recorded voiceover that we’re testing for the first time. The script for this VO (for the first 5 scenes) can be seen below:

Playtest Day (Saturday 4/16/19)

On Playtest day itself, preliminary feedback was positive. Most of our testers were either completely new or fairly new to VR, but they found the cuts in particular to be understandable and augmentative of the experience. The seriousness of the subject matter didn’t seem to bother anyone, and testers called our project “fascinating” and the art “so cool.”

Specific notes are as follows:

  • We should think about voiceover balance. Testers said that although the VO kept them engaged, filled them in on the plot, and helped cue them to when to listen and when to interact, it also made it feel like they were watching a character instead of being the character. In short, people understood the character better with VO, but didn’t feel like they were the character.
  • The initial interaction (picking up the sandtool) needs to be cleaner, as several testers reported being initially unaware they needed to look down. Once this was clear, the rest flowed easily
  • The white frame scene testers felt was too long.
  • Testers had subtlely different narrative experiences. Some testers felt that you were the main character’s dad in the beginning, and your death galvanizes the protagonist to think about his thoughts. Other thought that you physically are rethinking your life after surviving the crash. We think that this is ok, as the “reliving one’s memories” becomes clearer later on in the experience, and one of our values is allowing for guests’ individual experience rather than forcing a specific one.
  • Some minor tweaks to consider:
    • Adding the bodies of parents in the montage driving scene
    • Having something tangible, even subtlely, to look at / interact with in the white frame scene so you’re not sitting idly for too look
    • Moving the suitcase closer to the guest in the bedroom scene.

Next Week

Next week, we will start polishing our current scenes and also add on to them to our targeted 14.