Arkology

Arkology is a Virtual Reality Real-Time Strategy Game. In Arkology, the player is on missions to battle against alien forces by strategizing and commanding a support fleet using intuitive motion-control from the table in the Operations Room on the flagship - Ark. For more information, visit the website.

In the project, I explored UX/UI Design in VR with a goal to build intuitive control and effective information visualization in the new platform. I am also in charge of graphic design.

Role

UX Designer

Duration

9 months

Platform

HTC Vive

Tools
 
A Case Study on motion design
Using motion to establish sense of connection in VR

Players purchase ships from the purchase menu and add the ships to the commander's table. When designing this part, I came across problems with player feedbacks . Some players had trouble identifying and interpreting  what happened in the game when they wanted to track where resources came from. Through many incremental iterations following several playtest sessions, I polished the user experience of purchasing ships.

Initial design
Purchase a ship

Interaction Design

When designing the menu, I aimed to make the motion-control intuitive -- the process of purchase should be similar to the process of picking up a toy and putting it on a table in real world.

Ship purchase menu

Purchase Panel shows several ships available for purchase. It displays current resource and the price of the ships.

The Interface and interactions in VR

problem
"I don't understand what is happening..."

Playtesting

In the next few playtesting sessions, we found problems with the initial design.

The problem with this initial UI design affects gameplay:

  1. Players do not know where to find current amount of resource.

  2. Players do not know the conditions in which they earn more resources.​

Players do not know where to find current amount of resource.

Players do not know the conditions in which they earn more resources.

Based on the problem found, I did interview with the testers and brainstormed with the rest of the team. The cause to the problems was gradually identified:

  • Current resource was put at the bottom right corner of the menu. This does not follow the left-to-right and top-to-bottom rule of reading order.

  • Unique to VR, players' attention is focused at the spot they are looking at. If information is placed at somewhere else, players need to be redirected over, or it's likely they "can't see" it.

  • When enemy units are destroyed, players earn more resource. However, players can't associate the two events together.

Solutions
Using motion and visual elements to establish sense of connection.

Revised interface

Current Resource is moved to the top left in its own frame to be more distinctive.

The new interface in VR

Added feedback when enemy destroyed

A Resource Icon jumps up from an enemy unit following its explosion to associate enemy death with the gain of resource. This also helps redirect players' attention to the purchase menu.

Added feedback to the purchasing menu

More feedback is added to the Purchase Menu to signify the location of current resource, and to indicate the timing when resource is increased.

Conclusion

The initial design laid foundation of an intuitive mode of control and a clean display of information. The revised design fixed the flaws in the organization of information which has caused players to overlook important statistics. It also re-considered the uniqueness in directing players' attention in a 3D space rather than on a traditional 2D surface.