The Expo opened today and will be open until the end of Friday! There was a lot to see and do! I managed to explore 1/3 of the space. Walking in, we have the GDC Store to the left and the main floor below the stairs. Upon entering the main floor, Unity was smack dab in the center. It had an impressive set up, but not as impressive as the Oculus area nor Clash of Kings.
There were a lot of demos you could play, with many different type of controllers. Everyone was definitely drinking the VR Kool-Aid. Because of the popularity of some of the sessions, reservations for a play session are strongly encouraged. Most, if not all of the sessions ,were already booked for the whole day by noon. I managed to reserve the PS VR play session for tomorrow afternoon by scanning a QR code to their scheduling app!
The main floor was broken up into pavilions with games by their respective counties. It was interesting to overhear others call their friends to sync up and saying “I’m in Korea.” Haha.
I spent the rest of the time walking around the floor and observing others play.
— Tawny (@iheartthannie) March 16, 2016
I did get a chance to get in line for an arcade ride! My line buddy and I decided to get chased by a T-Rex! We started flying in the air as a Pterodactyl. The gleeful flight didn’t last long. The T-Rex was hungry and apparently really wanted us for dinner. It definitely felt like we were running quickly, trying to get away.
Another simulation others tried that we didn’t was a lala land roller coaster. In this demo, players can actually see their hand on screen.
— Tawny (@iheartthannie) March 16, 2016Sessions & Highlights
Playstation VR. Sony discusses development concepts, design innovations and what PS VR is and is not. I personally liked the direction they are going for collaboration.
- Design with 2 screens in mind. For console VR, you may be making 2 games in 1. One in VR and one on TV. You should consider doing this to avoid having one headset per player and to allow for multiplayer cooperation. Finding an art direction for both is hard. Keep it simple for good performance.
- Make VR a fun and social experience. In a cooperative environment, you get 2 separate viewpoints of the same environment (mirroring mode) or 2 totally different screen views (separate mode). This means that innovation between competitive and Co-op mode is possible.
The AppsLab team and I have considered this possibility of a VR screen and TV screen experience as well. It’s great that this idea is validated by one of the biggest console makers.
A year of user engagement data. A year’s worth of game industry data, patterns and trends was the theme of all the sessions I attended today.
- There are 185 million gamers in the US. Half are women.
- 72 million are console gamers. Of those console owners the average age is ~30 years old.
- There are 154 million mobile gamers. This is thanks to the rise of free-2-play games. Mobile accessibility has added diversity to the market and brought a new group of players. Revenues grew because of broad expansion. The average age for the mobile group is ~39.4 years old.
- There are 61 million PC gamers thanks to the rise of Steam. These gamers tend to be younger at an average age of ~29.5yrs.
- There are different motivations as to why people play games. There are two group of players: Core vs. casual players. Universally, the primary reason casual players play games is when they are waiting to pass time and as a relaxing activity.
- There is great diversity within the mobile market. There is an obvious gender split between what females and males play casually. Females tend to like matching puzzle (Candy Crush), simulation and casino games while males tend to like competitive games like sport, shooter and combat city builder games.
- When we look internationally, players in Japan have less desire to compete when playing games. Success of games based on cooperative games.
- Most homes have a game console. In 2015, 51% of homes owned at least 2 game consoles. At the start of 2016, there was an increase of 40% in sales for current 8th generation game consoles (PS4, Xbox One, etc minus the Wii).
- Just concentrating on mobile gamers, 71% play games on both their smart phone and tablet, 10% play only on their tablet.
- Top factors leading to churn are lack of interest, failure to meet expectation and too much friction.
- Aside from Netflix and maybe Youtube, Twitch gobbles up more prime time viewers, almost 700K concurrent views as of March 2016. Its viewership is increasing despite competition with the launch of YouTube Gaming.
Day 1 — User research round table. This was my first round table during GDC, and it’s nice to be among those within the same profession. We covered user research for VR, preventing bias and testing on kids! Experts provided their failures on these topics and offers suggestions.
- Testing for Virtual Reality.
- Provide players with enough time warming up in the new environment before asking them to perform tasks. Use the initial immersive exposure for to calibrate them.
- Be ready to pull them out at any indication of nausea.
- Use questionnaires to screen out individuals who easily get motion sickness.
- It’s important to remember that people experience sickness for different reasons. It’s hard to eliminate all the variables. Some people can have vertigo or claustrophobia that’s not necessarily the fault of the VR demo. There is a bias toward that in media. People think they are going to be sick so they feel sick.
- Do not ask people if they feel sick before the experience else you are biasing them to be sick.
- Individuals are only more likely to feel sick if your game experience does not match their expectations. Some people feel sick no matter what.
- One researcher tested 700–800 people in VR. Only 2 persons said that they felt sick. 7–8 said they felt uncomfortable.
- An important questions to ask is “At what point do they feel sick?” If you get frequent reports at that point vs. Generalized reports, then you can do something to make the game better.
- Avoid bragging language. Keep questions neutral.
- Separate yourself from the product.
- Remember participants think that you are an authority. Offload instructions to the survey, rather than relay the instructions yourself. It’s going to bias the feedback.
- Standardize the experiment. Give the same spiel.
- The order of question is important.
- Any single geographic region is going to introduce bias. Only screen out regions if you think culture is going to be an issue.
- Testing with kids.
- It’s better to test with 2 kids in a room. With kids, they are not good at verbalizing what they know and do not know. Having 2 kids allows you to see them verbalize their thoughts to each other as they ask questions and help each other through the game.
- When testing a group of kids at once, assign the kids their station and accessories. Allowing them to pick will end up in a fight over who gets the pink controller.
- Younger kids aren’t granular so allow for 2 clear options on surveys. A thumbs up and thumbs down works.
- Limit kids to one sugary drink or you’ll regret it.
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Just like yesterday, the VR sessions were very popular. Even with the change to bigger rooms, lines for popular VR talks would start at least 20 minutes before the session started. The longest line I was in snaked up and down the hallway at least 4 times. The wait was well worth it though!
Today was packed. Many sessions overlapped one another. Wish I could have cloned 3 of myself
Hello everyone! I wrapped up the first day at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco! It’s the first Monday after daylight savings so a morning cup of joe in Moscone West was a welcomed sight!
Wow! All of the VR sessions were very popular and crowded. In the morning, I was seated in the overflow room for the HTC Vive session. Attendees were lucky to be able to go to 2 VR sessions back-to-back. There would be lines wrapping around the halls and running into other lines. By the afternoon, when foot traffic was at its highest, it was easy to get confused as to which line belonged to which session. Luckily, the organizers took into account the popularity of the VR sessions and moved it to the larger rooms for the next 4 days!
On the third floor, there was a board game area where everyone could play the latest board game releases like Pandemic Legacy and Mysterium as well as a VR play area where everyone could try out the Vive and other VR games.Sessions & Take Aways
I sat in on 6 sessions:
- A Year in Roomscale: Design Lessons from the HTC Vive and Beyond.
- You are not building a game, but an experience. Players are actually doing something actively with their hands vs. a game controller.
- There are 3 questions that players ask when they are starting a VR experience that should be addressed:
- (a) Who am I?
- (b) What am I supposed to do?
- (c) How do I interact with the environment?
- Permissability. New players always ask when they are allowed to interact with something, but there are safety issues when they get too comfortable. One developer told a story about how a player actually tried to dive headfirst into a pool while wearing a VR device!
- Don’t have music automatically playing when they enter the game. It’s not natural in the real world. It’s better to have a boom box and have them turn on the music instead. In addition, audio is still hard to do perfectly. Players expect perfect audio by default. If they pick up a phone, they expect to hear it out of 1 ear, not both.
- Social Impact: Leveraging Community for Monetization, User Acqusition and Design.
- Social Whales (SW) have high social value thus have the highest connection to other players and are key to a high ROI . SWs makes it easy for other players to connect with one another.
- There are 3 standard profiles that players fall under:
- (a) The atypical social whales that always want the best things.
- (b) The trendsetter, the one who wants to unite and lead.
- (c) The trend spotter, the players who want to be a part of something.
- When a social whale leaves a games, ROI falls and other players leave. This is because that 2nd degree connection is gone. To keep players from leaving, it’s important to have game mechanics that addresses the following player needs:
- (a) Players want to belong.
- (b) Players want recognition as a valuable member.
- (c) Players want their in-game group to be recognized as the best vs. other groups.
- Menus Suck.
- A very interesting talk on rethinking how players access key menu items in VR.
- Have a following object like a cat! Touching different parts of the object will allow you to select different things. It’s much easier than walking back and forth between a menu and what you have to do.
- Job Simulator uses retro cartridges for menu selection.
- Create menu shortcuts with the player’s body. Have the user pull things out of different parts of their head (below).
- Eating as an interaction. In job simulator you can eat a cake marked with an “Exit” to exit the game. The cake changes to another dessert item marked with an “Are you sure?” to ensure the exit.
- Improving Playtesting through Workshops Focusing on Exploring.
- For games, we are experience testing (playtesting) not performing a usability test.
- For games, especially for VR, comfort comes first. Right after that it’s ease of use.
- When exploring desired experiences for a game, create a composition box to ensure you get ideas from all views of your development team.
- When observing play, look for actions (e.g. vocalizations, gestures) as well as for changes in posture and focus.
- The Tower of Want.
- Learn critical questions our designs must answer to engage players over the long term.
- Follow the “I want to..” and “so I can…” framework to unearth player’s short term and long term goals. Instead of asking why 5 times like we do in user research, we ask then to complete the framework’s “so I can…” sentence (e.g. I want to get good grades so I can get into college…so I can get a good job…so I can make a lot of money…so I can buy a house).
- The framework creates a ladder of motivations that incentivizes a player to complete each game level in that ladder daily.
- Cognitive Psychology of Virtual Reality: Basics, Problems and Tips.
- Psychology is the physics of VR.
- Use redirected walking to keep players within the same space.
- Design for optical flow. Put shadows over areas where users are not concentrating on. It’ll help with dizziness.
- Players underestimate depth by up to 50%.
- Add depth by adding transitional rooms (portals). This helps ease the players into their new environment.
- Players can see a maximum of 6 meters ahead of them for 3D.
- In their peripherals, they can only see 2D.
- Design with the mind that 20–30% of the population has problems with stereoscopic vision.
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We will be following closely all things UX, IoT, VR, AI. Our schedules are getting full with some great sessions and workshops. Check back in a week or so to read some of our impressions!Possibly Related Posts:
At the end of 2015, our team was wrapping up projects that would be shown at the main Oracle conference, Oracle OpenWorld.
As with every OOW, we like to come up with a fun project that shows attendees our spirit of innovation by building cool projects within Oracle.
The team was thinking about building something cool with kids’ racetracks. We all were collectively in charge of looking for alternatives, so we visited a toy store to get ideas and see products that already existed out there.
We looked pretty cool racetracks but none of them suited our needs for functionality and of course, we didn’t have enough time to invest on modifying some of them.
So, searching through internet someone came up with Anki OVERDRIVE cars, yes, that product that was announced back in 2013 at Apple WWDC keynote. To sum up, Anki provides a racetrack that includes flexible plastic magnets tracks that can be chained together and to allow for any racetrack configuration, rechargeable cars that have an optical sensor underneath to keep the car on the track, a lot of fun features like all kinds of virtual weapons, cars upgrades, etc., a companion app for both Android and iOS platform to operate the cars and a software development kit (SDK).
For us, it was exactly what we were looking for. But now we needed to find a way to control the cars without using the companion app because, you know, that was boring and we wanted more action and go one step further.
So after discussing different approaches, I suggested to control cars with Myo gesture control armband that basically is a wireless touch-free, wearable gesture control and motion device. We had Myo armband already, but we hadn’t played with it much. Good thing that Myo band has an SDK too, so we had everything ready to build a cool demo
So, here’s a new thing I’ve noticed lately, customizable wearables, specifically the Xiaomi Mi Band (#MiBand), which is cheap and completely extensible.
This happens to be Ultan’s (@ultan) new fitness band of choice, and coincidentally, Christina’s (@ChrisKolOrcl) as well. Although both are members of Oracle Applications User Experience (@usableapps), neither knew the other was wearing the Mi Band until they read Ultan’s post.
Since, they’ve shared pictures of their custom bands.
The Mi Band already comes in a wider array of color options that most fitness bands, and a quick search of Amazon yields many pages of wristband and other non-Xiaomi produced accessories. So, there’s already a market for customizing the $20 device.
And why not, given it’s the price of a nice pedometer with more bells and whistles and a third the cost of the cheapest Fitbit, the Zip, leaving plenty of budget left over for making it yours.
Both Christina and Ultan have been tracking fitness for a long time and as early adopters so I’m ready to declare this a trend, i.e. super-cheap, completely-customizable fitness bands.
Of course, as with anything related to fashion (#fashtech), I’m the last to know. Much like a broken clock, my wardrobe is fashionable every 20 years or so. However, Ultan has been beating the #fashtech drum for a while now, and it seems the time has come to throw off the chains of the dull, black band and embrace color again.
Or something like that. Anyway, find the comments and share your Mi Bands or opinions. Either, both, all good.Possibly Related Posts: