Making Mixed Reality is a compelling way to alter the world around you with the integration of digital media. Here we’ve provided a road map to generate content that will excite, educate and inspire.
The first objective is to understand your audience. This is the foundation everything is built upon so it is critical we get this part right. There is often a difference between what the audience understands and what they will enjoy. Some of the greatest directors will tell you they know their audience better than the audience knows themselves. Above all, be cognizant of your audience, not just their preferences, but their biases, manias, belief structure, decision making process, and as much as possible. In fact, a great way to really understand your audience is to ask them about both their first pet and their first car and read all their emails. Ha!
The Audience – We want to believe what we see, therefore, design aware of the role emotion will play. The first step is putting yourself in the position of the user. Where are you and what are you doing? Where is the user going to be using the experience? This matters because the users have different levels of comfort in different settings. I am far more comfortable being blindfolded in my own living room than I am in a public park. We should be aware of how the audience might feel in one place compared to another. How much space will the user have to participate. Can they freely swing their arms, or is this going to be a spatially confined experience? Can they walk around? If so, how much? What are other limitations of the space, from the height of the ceiling to the texture of the flooring, we need to be thinking about the physical conditions in which the user will be, otherwise we are bound to disappoint.
How can you widen or narrow the audience? Think about if and how the content can be adjusted to be more appealing to a greater audience and what it would look like to bring this notion to fruition. Or, conversely, how can you make the content even more specific and connect deeper with a highly targeted group or segment. Thinking this way is good exercise for overcoming objections and developing the skills to think agilely, broadly and on our feet. In this world, nothing is ever simple, and the buyers always tend to have new ideas, a change of vision or just silly complaints. It is up to us to be on our toes and ready to manage any on-the-fly adjustments necessary. At the end of the day, even if the change in plan is foolish, we don’t much argue with the many who has the money, especially because people from a distance cannot tell who is who. Moral of the platitude is: be flexible.
Medium– My dad always makes a joke asking why “TV is called a medium” and then blurts out “Because it is not rare or well done!” And the sad truth is he is right these days. Quality content in doesn’t live in the mainstream, but that’s simply because the masses, as a mass, are dumb. But we are in a particularly challenging situation with immersive content because it is in such infancy, and we are having a bit of trouble getting a good deal of content available to the people. It is the chicken and egg scenario where we do not know which will come first, the money or the content, and right now it is just those just getting by until the levy breaks and dollars flood in.
Right now a HMD looks ridiculous. Once you’ve dedicated all your time and energy into VR/AR you don’t much care looking like a fool – I think of myself as an unrealized genius, so I don’t care if no one notices me for anything more than a weirdo, but we cannot assume all people are so cavalier with their appearance. Soon, it will simply be the thing-you-do when you are playing VR, almost like a welding mask. Of course he is wearing one, that’s necessary.
Learn how to connect broadcast software and make “mixed reality” videos to share what the experience is like, with the convenience of two dimensional content. This production requires a bit of work, such as adding and tracking a virtual camera, synchronizing it with a physical camera that can handle the work load, and linking up a few extra wires or adaptors, but it is entirely manageable and well worth the effort. some extra wires, but its reasonably manageable and well worth the effort.
Interactive Story Design
Who is the main character, is it the user? What is there role? How much of a background are you giving the person and what information might be missing from their assumptions. We sometimes get too close to story design and forget that we have much more information that the user does because we’ve been writing the scene in our head and understand more about it than has been built into the scene. Think about who the user is in the experience and test endlessly to figure out what the user might be thinking. This goes back to knowing the audience. The serial gamer is going to have a greater background on who they are in the experience based on who they have been in other games, compared to the casual user or the first time user. A safe approach is to provide too much information and let the more experienced person fast forward through any introductory content, but not like on a VHS, but with accomplishments. Provide the user with indicators that would explain what needs to be done to proceed, but that are not explicitly said. As in, create a visual or auditory cue that only an experience user would recognize as a signal for advancing. While the inexperienced use can go through the informative and educating introduction in full. Also arrange for an in between, at the end of the day we should have the user moving at their own pace. Nothing is more boring than being stuck being taught stuff you already know and nothing is more confusing than being expected to understand when you really have no clue what to be doing Everyone remembers how they were made to feel, and if you make someone feel dumb, that is not good. If you make them feel bored, that too doesn’t fit in most of the time. Always be conscious of how the content is going to make the user feel.
What is the user to interact with? In virtual space you expect everything to be as interactive as it would be in the real world. It is strange to walk up to an object you want to pick up an not be able to pick it up as you suspected you could. It breaks the presence. It is also very challenging to model every single item of a scene into a 3D model. Especially if you are designing your experience for both mobile and PC. Does the object interact with you? Are you adding a character engine – as in, is there a robot with “artificial intelligent” algorithms driving an interaction. Building a character engine will be it’s own post. The long and the short of it is to consider what the user will be interacting with, how and why.
So how does the story work? What happens during the first act, the second and the third? Your characters are the essence of the story, think about when you introduce them and what their ultimate purpose will be in this journey. How does the journey begin, and why should it start in that scenario? Everything you create need to be with an awareness of of how these characters will participate in the journey.
You will have to play out the experience on paper and in your head several times before you can story board it and actually start with game iterations. Take on the character’s point of view and go on the journey yourself. Think about the details an as long as you are constantly finding the potential pitfalls on your own and prioritize the experience above the release. Quality matters and making a mixed reality experience is no different than other mediums, expect it is far more complex and has many more variables. Mixed Reality is an entirely new genre – we are learning as we good, but it is an amazing ride, and it is up to all of us to experiment and share!