Development of an entertaining way of city marketing in virtual reality

Cerevall™

Client: City of Constance

Why / Framing

On a rainy summer day, a tourist can't do much throughout the day but walk around in the hotel. But Constance, a small city at the Lake of Constance, has a lot to tell. Medieval guild and patrician houses, the Niederburg built in 1200 and even the only German papal election. So there must be another way to present exciting facets of the city to people.

How / Challenge

The city marketing team had a challenging project to tackle: to provide a fun alternative to discover Constance even by bad weather conditions. I was to tell an exciting story about Constance in virtual reality on the Oculus Go.

The prioritization of the story to be told was quite hard since I alone cannot achieve the scope for an app that I initially hoped for. Also, there were technical difficulties, as well as limitations with Unity and the Oculus Go.

Actual game footage showing the Mission Central with teleportation points, mission information and a 3D mini-map

My roles

  • Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Product Designer
  • UX Researcher
  • (VR) Experience Designer
  • Storyteller
  • 3D Designer
  • Developer w/ Marc

I created the whole application from the idea over the creation to the user tested product on the Oculus Go.

Marc, a Programmer, helped me at the beginning of the development process to write scripts and understand the programming language so I could write basic scripts myself.

virtual reality tutorial for grabbing objects with the controller
User Flow with all the different scenes and the containing information each should communicate

User Flow creation for a better understanding of possible bad experiences

It was key to plan a user flow:

  1. to be sure the users will understand the story
  2. for the logic architecture of the different scenes in Unity
  3. and to have an overview what has to be done first, second, et cetera …

The story was set. I wanted to tell the story of the Council in Constance. In the beginning, it was quite hard to decide where to start. As a designer, I was kind of into the beautiful possibilities of Unity and the overall visual language development. But I quickly realized, that without a proper story outline and concise map of the development steps, it will be nearly impossible to deliver on time.

On the technical side, there were some challenges as well. Because of the low performance of the Oculus Go, I had to think hard about a possible solution to tell a good story and deliver a fluid User Experience. (to be clear,  every new mission or different surrounding had to be in its own scene, since the hardware couldn't handle many polygons in one. A scene is like a new document you create, to store a different kind of information)

For example: in the »Zentrale«, users should see the progress they made and be able to go back to older missions. To make this possible, I would have to implement a complex logical system (which I couldn't even code).

While designing the User-Flow, an idea came up to "cheat" this progress. Instead of a logical system, I just needed several »Zentrale« with different states of progress. In this case, the user will think, the »Zentrale« updated her progress status without knowing, that they are entirely different Scenes.

virtual reality tutorial for grabbing objects with the controller
User Testing showed: user need to knwo about how to use the controller / move and interact in the world

What / Solution

An interactive version of the council, replaying in the future with some quirky twists. Constance of the future is way different than today, with floating islands separating the city into districts. Nevertheless, some historical artifacts remained (kind of) untouched: the gigantic Imperia or the Cathedral of Constance. Despite the difficulties in the beginning (and throughout the project), the final product really impressed the marketing team by surpassing their expectations.

Learnings

How to emphasize the essence in a very long story, so that it really sticks to the user and can still be remembered. Among many other useful contents, the book »The Power of Moments« has given me strategic help on how to create elevated moments that people remember.

But first and foremost, I learned the importance of user testing and the planning of user flows. It's easy to believe that a product will work properly, but if the user doesn't understand it, it's just not right.

And a bit of C# Coding.

virtual reality introduction tutorial of teleportations to be able to move in konstanz
Virtual Reality Tutorial 2: Teleportation
with a suggested radius (blue dots) for the teleportation beam for longer distances
konstanz in the future in virtual reality with imperia
Constance of the future with the Golden Imperia floating as islands in the clouds