Key interaction designs
Due to a very short timeframe and being a team of two, we decided to focus on 2 key interactions and streamlined the story:
1) The lily pads signify the way home and the user has to step on it to go home.
2) While going home, the user has to try to get rid of the eyes that appear and constantly follow the user.
Sound design: To make it a seamless experience, we incorporated the “instructions” to “follow the lily pad” and to “poke the eyes” in the narration of the sound design. When testing, users were able to intuitively carry out the tasks without difficulty and the sound design was successful.
The ending: We decided to only have one ending, mimicking games where you have a false illusion of agency and or effect on the outcome of the game. We wanted to magnify the feeling of helplessness, that no matter how hard you tried to get home safe, the system is rigged against you. This worked really well and we received positive feedback from users.
We tried to design 2D assets (pictured below) and using it in Local Project's Dream Cube. Unfortunately, it lacked depth and more importantly, there were some issues with building out 2D objects that could collide with the retroflective object as it is in a 3D world. Hence, we pivoted and started designing 3D assets.
Coding the interactions
After making the pivot to use 3D objects, I managed to get the eyes to track the user and achieve this eerie effect of being followed. Here's a user tester poking the eyes with the retroflective ball:
It was challenging to program as we had to take into account the existing code structure of the dream cube and how it would interact with the new code. Furthermore, we only had a total of about 5 hours or less to test in the dream cube in the entire project time. This made things really difficult to debug as things could work in Unity's preview but when put into the actual dream cube itself, bugs that never showed up in the preview appeared. We had to also change the 2D cube background into a 3D one for further coding of the interaction.
The constant debugging T.T