The Work This Week
The work this week saw us adjusting our experience based on feedback that we received during Softs. We also got the chance to playtest our experience on Wednesday in preparation for Open House on Friday. Lastly, we began work on our documentation videos: a series of commentaries describing each kind of transition that we experimented with, along with our findings.
As discussed last week, our experience has been broken up with Chapter Titles to allow for breathing space in between some of the more livelier transitions. These sections also lightly coincide with changes in the music as well.
Though the first two scenes remain the same, the following scenes have seen some changes to the transitions in between them.
- Scene 3 to Scene 4 – Still uses the motif of picking up a shovel and playing with the sand castle in front of you. Instead of transitioning directly into Scene 4, it cuts to the first chapter title: “The Suitcase.”
- Scene 4 to Scene 5 – Still uses the Suitcase transition, which got positive feedback during Softs. We’ve altered the placement of the environment slightly, so it feels less like you’re inside the bed while sitting on it.
- Scene 5 to Scene 6 – After the montage, instead of hard-cutting to the living room (Scene 6), we added a new transition: an animated note reading “Welcome to the Neighborhood” flies into frame as you are driving, and as it takes over your POV, the rest of the environment fades to black. Then, after a beat, the environment returns to the living room, with you still holding the note.
- Scene 6 to Scene 7 – After a beat in the living room, the scene hard-cuts to the next chapter title, “Pictures”, which then cuts to the next scene.
- Scene 7 to Scene 8 – Instead of needing to poke at your sushi to trigger a cut to the next scene, you now need to watch your girlfriend get up and move to a picture of the beach on the wall beside you. As you gaze at the picture, the scene will undergo a “circle wipe” transition with the next scene (the beach) taking over the frame.
- Scene 8 to Scene 9 – The scene still employs needing to take pictures of the scene to trigger the next scene (three pictures triggers the next scene), but instead of cutting directly, the scene goes to the last chapter title, “the Pie and Pies.”
- Scene 9 to Scene 10 – The quick cuts sequence (Scene 9) in itself was giving guests problems, being too jarring with the changing camera movement. Now, we’ve removed the car sequences here, keeping the focus in the dining room. Now, your girlfriend goes through a sequence of dissolves as she moves farther and farther away from you, before the scene cuts into the last transition.
- Scene 10 to Scene 11 – Our “walking away” transition remains the same, although it has been updated so that the gaze trigger is wider and therefore it is easier to track the woman walking away (and thus she is less likely to stall in place).
- Scene 11 to Scene 13 – Similar to before, you pick up the postcard in front of you to trigger the cut to the last scene. Only this time, the postcard has been added to the environment for Scene 13, so the object therefore carries over. NOTE: We removed Scene 12 prior to our Softs’ rough cut, hence the discrepancy.
- Scene 13 to Scene 14 – A fade to white, the same as before.
In testing our new experience, most of notes regard straight polishing for some of the scenes. However, testers say the experience feels complete and that the transitions are impactful. The new black chapter titles were well received. The new transition with the animated note in particular has gotten positive responses, with several testers listing it as their favorite transition.
We asked playtesters their feelings regarding the VO in the experience (which is still present but has been truncated significantly), and they are ok with it. The music volume has been lowered, so it feels like less of a clash. And with a lot of transitions now altered to fell more gentle, the VO feels like less of an information overload.
The largest note involved first beach scene, as the hard cut to the chapter title felt a little weird, whereas the other cuts to the chapter titles felt fine. This is something we might polish and move the chapter title to be before Scene 3.
Regarding our polish notes:
- The Suitcase feels a little close, so moving it around a bit might be necessary.
- The different kinds of seats (the car seat, the kitchen chair, the couch, etc.) didn’t feel uniform, with guests needing to move forward and backward in the respective scenes to align themselves. We’ll look into trying better to align these.
- There was too much food left in Scene 7, which pulled guests’ attention away from the beach picture.
- Scene 8 needs some visual feedback, just so the guest knows that the pictures they are taking are working, with some flashes or something.
- Some of the spacing felt weird during the new Scene 9, as the table shifts slightly during the transitions, which was jarring for some.
- We may want to allow Scene 11 to play out a touch longer, as you sitting in the darkened room alone gets the emotional weight of the piece to land a lot.
We showcased this version of experience for ETC Open House on Friday, and we received a lot of interested guests.
For our documentation video, we are recording a lot of narration to discuss the process of our individual cuts and transitions. We will then release a video per transition to go along with our final deliverable. This script is still undergoing final edits, but this is what we have so far:
Next week will be our last week, with a heavy focus on our finals presentation. We also will be incorporating the last polish tweaks to our experience, and then will release our technical tools on Github and (hopefully with approval) the Unity store.
Lastly, we have begun discussions to send our work to conferences such as GDC. People in the industry, particularly Magic Leap, who have stopped by our project room over the course of the semester seem interested in work, discussing that “these are issues that we also deal with.” So, it is our responsibility to present our work for more to see.