As we’re barreling towards the finish line, it’s worth going over a recap of what’s gone on in the past month.
Picking up where the last blog entry left off, the ETC’s official Playtest Day gave us the opportunity to see how naive users with no knowledge of VR or the Frankenstein novel would react to our experience.
Overall, it got a positive reception. At this point there were plenty of kinks to work out (such as UI, the positioning of the fire on the torch, etc) , and playtesters identified many of them. The physical installation was also pretty bare-bones at this point, so there wasn’t much for them to go off of. As such, the testers often felt discouraged from visiting the writer’s desk or missed it entirely.
Our biggest question that day, though, was “Will the playtesters get the story?” Since we hadn’t tested the VR experience with very many people yet, we weren’t sure how well the narrative would come across. We had each guest fill out a survey after they had finished the experience and asked for a recap. Based on that, we could say most of the key beats hit. Everyone knew they began the experience being created by Victor Frankenstein. The guests unfamiliar with the novel were, as expected, confused by the other characters: De Lacey, Felix, and William. But they felt the emotional moments those characters were meant to convey. A handful of guests even said the key theme of the experience: Rejection!
With these strengths and weaknesses in mind, we headed into weeks 12 & 13 (4/9-4/20) prepared to face a variety of challenges.
There was a whole lot of building to do, as Justin Fanzo got to work on repainting the writer’s desk to match the scenery, as well as fabricating a few other items himself. Charlie continued to work on the animations and refining the character models. Justin Campbell assisted with pacing the experience as well as choreographing the animations for Charlie to use as reference. Iris created a wispy, ethereal flame effect that fit well on the torch. Yein kept improving the UI and changed the timing based on Justin’s input. Jared added new sounds to the experience, including some work Elliot submitted. Our faculty advisors, John and Shirley, continued to provide feedback on intuitiveness to better our experience.
Lastly, we had a visit from our primary client, Rikk Mulligan. We’d talked to him every week over Skype up to this point, so this was his first time getting to go hands-on with our experience. He was impressed with what we’d accomplished so far and mainly wanted to go over how the exhibit would fit into the Posner Center. He proposed the idea of having the two desks be conjoined in an L-shape, but we pushed back on that since it meant only one person could get close to the installation at a time.
By the end of these two weeks, we had something very close to our end product. It was just a matter of making sure the two sides of the experience were well-connected.