Released for Oculus
Reception & Next steps
Conjure Strike was released for Oculus Rift and has received a very positive response from players. We are still refining the gameplay and plan to release updates in the coming months.
Research & Analysis
Overwatch is TribeVR's main precedent for the feel of Conjure Strike’s gameplay. Overwatch provided a clear sense for the fast pace of the gameplay TribeVR wanted, but I needed to look into dedicated VR first-person experiences to figure out how to translate that to the Oculus Rift's unique interface. Some of the games I looked into were The Unspoken, Echo Arena, Gorn, and Adr1ft.
Optimized for VR best practices
Due to the speed and complexity of Conjure Strikes gameplay, I did thorough research on the best practices of VRs interaction designs and methods to prevent nausea. One of the most helpful resources was the Oculus VR Best Practices guide.
IDEATION & DESIGN
modern VR game + classic tight controls
Players have a variety of spells they must cast with split second precision during gameplay, but the system for equipping different spells in the initial prototype required tremendous focus, which made it nearly impossible to cast spells with the precise timing. The system required users to reach down and grab from a series of wands floating at waist level. I realized this was a problem when during play testing when players would stop moving in amidst hectic action in order to focus their attention on switching wands. This unfortuately often resulted in the player being killed or missing the opportune moment they were switching spells for. I streamlined this design by removing the wand system entirely, and instead mapped all the player’s spells to the Touch Controller’s buttons. This new controller layout allowed for a player’s entire arsenal of spells to be readily accessible at anytime. This design update was validated during play testing, as the matches became much faster paced and engaging.
Character Locomotion system
In Conjure Strike player’s move by flying through the air. Players control their flight by simply simply pointing their left controller and pressing forward on the joystick. The system I created assigns all locomotion to the left controller, and shooting to the right. This allows users to fly through environments while simultaneously aiming and casting spells in any direction.
Simplified Gameplay systems
The prototype required that users keep track of multiple resources to user their weapons, such as mana, charge, and cooldown timers. Whenever a player casts a spell, it drains their mana bar. If the mana bar is completely drained, they can no longer cast spells until it recharges. In addition, certain spells had cooldown timers, which prevents players using spells in quick succession. And charge was essentially a separate mana resource designated to a single weapon. Keeping track of these added a complex resource management that distracted from the fast paced Overwatch gameplay we wanted. I redesigned this system by removing the Mana and Charge, and replacing them it with a straight forward cooldown timer system for every ability. Spells now have multiple uses, called charges. Each spell has a varying amount of charges, which are visualized as a segmented ring around the spell's symbol. Below are a few examples of how this is visualized.
These cooldown timers have varying visual states to display their status. If a player uses all of the spell charges, the spell is unusable until it recharges. But spells are constantly recharging over time, which is indicated by a red progress bar. Once the progress bar fills up, the charge flashes to indicate it’s available again. The spell will continue to charge until all of the charges are refilled.
Easily accessible HUD UI
In the initial prototype, all of the player’s health bar and cooldown timers were attached to their wrists. But since the player’s arms are constantly moving as they aim at opponents to cast spells, it meant that checking your stats would completely disrupt gameplay. I resolved this by attaching the relevant UI to the edges of the camera HUD, so that it’s visible at all times. In addition, cooldown timers are visible both in the HUD and as icons that hover around the player’s weapon to keep the state of their cooldown timers visible as they aim at enemies. In addition, I've added in labels to make it clear which oculus touch buttons correspond to which spells.