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  • How To Build Worlds And Tell Stories In VR

    [12.11.18]
    - Michela Rimensberger

  • After we covered the very basics of our family, we moved a step outside and asked:

    "Where do the Stonebeards live?"

    This question comes at quite a late stage as this is one of the more complex ones and often leads back to several what iterations. The idea behind this question is to analyze and define in detail the environment your characters are living in. What is the flora and fauna? What's the geographic location? You see, you probably will need some more of these whats ;)

    After you've answered the where, now comes the how:

    "How do the Stonebeards live?"

    Describe their environment in as much detail as possible - what they eat, where they sleep etc. Create some concepts to get a feeling for their culture and to manifest your inner picture!

    If you followed these steps and did some iterations, you probably have a quite solid characterization to work with. But why is this so important? And what does this all have to do with VR?

    Well, as well as the user being less forgiving of wrong dimension and proportions in VR, this is also the case for conceptual issues.

    As VR is such an immersive medium, players get dragged into the world of the game, and as they can observe this world hands-on, this also means that they can observe every mistake you made in terms of logic, consistency and/or coherency from totally different angles than when playing "normally" on a flat screen.  A lot of techniques that work perfectly well in regular games don't work so well in VR.

    Lessons learned

    Try to create a 3D image of the world you imagined in VR and try to be as realistic as possible. Rely on natural guidance to point the player in the right direction, instead of using intrusive elements. Want them to pick something up? Let a crack in the wall shed some light on the item in an otherwise dark room (but don't overdo it! It should not look like the item has a halo, unless you want it to look like that - then just go ahead!)

    Also, please try to avoid intrusive HUDs and flat audio - these are atmosphere killers!

    I hope this short summary gives you a handy toolkit for your worldbuilding and its application in VR. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!

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