Dynamic Landscapes VR Game
Dynamic Landscapes is an innovative VR game designed to engage players in musical improvisation through gameplay. The core concept involves players using their vocal talents to control their in-game character. By singing different notes, players navigate and explore a virtual landscape, employing both long and short notes to move and jump. The game also features obstacles and non-playable characters (NPCs) that challenge players to replicate note sequences. Successful replication gains players NPC followers, who sing their note sequences together in harmony behind the player. As players amass more followers, harmonies grow richer, providing a platform for players to sing along and draw inspiration. Each level introduces new landscapes and note patterns, creating a dynamic gameplay experience. Although players may not initially realise it, the game effectively serves as a digital score, encouraging improvised musical performances.
Evolution of Concept: From Exploration to Engaging Gameplay (Process)
Initially conceived as an exploration-based game, Dynamic Landscapes underwent a transformative design process. Collaborative playtesting with a musician revealed that visual inspiration alone did not adequately engage players in musical improvisation. Iterative development led to the incorporation of traditional gaming elements, such as harmony copying minigames and platforming obstacles. This design shift was driven by the desire to strike a balance between gamification and artistic expression. While the chosen game-centric approach aligned with the creator’s skills and interests, an alternative, more artistically-focused version remains conceivable. The full creative process can be found in a blog here (note it is shown with the most recent post first, so scroll to the bottom and read upwards for a chronological read). Initial designs, development notes, and insights from playtests are all logged in this blog.
Crafting the Virtual Musical Landscape: VR Environment and Interaction (Materials)
Dynamic Landscapes exists as a VR game set within a fully immersive 3D virtual world. Vocal controls empower players to explore this environment and establish a visual-aural connection. NPCs play a pivotal role, triggering minigames wherein players must replicate sung harmonies. Successful replication prompts NPCs to become followers, their harmonies blending with others. This harmonious chorus aims to stimulate singers to contribute more melodically. The game leverages VR’s enveloping capabilities to immerse players in the virtual world, fostering a subconscious musical inspiration.
Balancing Challenge and Navigation: Fluid Gameplay Experience (Flow)
Player navigation proved intuitive, facilitated by clear controls and tutorial sections. Levels presented manageable challenges, ensuring engagement while avoiding monotony. Yet, the game succeeded less in its musical dimension, as players felt detached from their musical contributions. To bridge this
gap, the game could incentivise note variation and melodious singing during movement, requiring pitch changes and rhythmic control integration.
Learning and Adaptation: Shaping the Game’s Evolution (Transformations)
Playtesting with collaborators brought unexpected transformations. The initial goal of inducing natural singing through gameplay was subverted. Collaboration unearthed the necessity for incentives to encourage note variation. Iterative work with collaborators broadened perspectives and inspired novel directions. This approach aligns with the creator’s work style and will influence future projects, allowing for early issue detection and transformative development.
Venturing Beyond Familiar Territory: Skill Acquisition and VR Development (Digital Skills)
Creating Dynamic Landscapes expanded the creator’s skillset by delving into sound frequency analysis and microphone input utilisation. The game’s use of unconventional controls presents potential for future projects. Learning VR development provided insights into immersive gaming experiences and innovative design approaches.
Realising Potential: Aspirations for a Comprehensive Digital Score (Conclusion)
During iterative design, involving an external musician for project testing led to a significant shift from the original vision. Collaboration curbed narrow design, resolved impractical mechanics, and introduced fresh perspectives. The project has the potential to become a comprehensive digital score, contingent on integrating more interaction and mechanics to encourage melodic vocalisation over simply making noise.