"VIVE Vibe" - making the first VR game

As with the rest of the software world we were excited about the possibilities of VR and getting our hands dirty with some VR code. So it was with a big smile on our face that we took in our first official VR project. And not just any boring "also ran" VR app but a full blown first person shooting game!

vive.jpeg

Nothing compares to writing a game. Add to that the total immersive environment of a HTC VIVE (our first target platform) you have something that literally stops us from living in the reality of this world :)

I'll be writing here about our experiences in this first serious dabble in the world of VR. Here are somethings that we wish we knew from the beginning...

 

 

Virtual reality is a whole new ball game

Duh! That should be obvious. But if you think about a software company that has been around for 14 years, you'll realize that we are a group of people that has seen really wide range of technical innovations. So we just assumed (the wort possible word in our profession - as we learned once again) that most of our experience would translate to this new platform. We soon realized that although coding skills (e.g. Unity or C# skills) translate pretty well but as soon as you hit anything Ux be it GUI, interactions or usability you have to learn everything from scratch. The total immersion of VR and the closeness of that experience of that with everyday human experience leads to a complete rethinking of how the software should interact with the user. Mr. Cooper, a new About face is sorely needed.

Interfaces are your friend

I mean the Interface constructs the programming languages. VR hardware is still at infancy. Just like every other hardware race, several companies are fighting it out with their own set of hardware, SDKs and way of doing things (mostly bugs :) ). So the code you write needs to have a way to be abstracted easily so that you add new hardware support without rewriting the core game logic. And that's where all those OOP skills will come in handy. A simple rule we use is to keep asking "what if I switched to Rift here?" and that helps give perspective. So go for all the IPlayer, IScorePack, Ix you can think of!

Get early feedback

OK this is really ancient advice in software, but we felt that in VR software this is even more true than other spaces. Again, because of the closeness to everyday human experience and the immersion in a VR application (particularly a game with realistic graphics) it's very easy for users to assume they know exactly how (and where) things should be. Gone are the old escape routes that techies used to take like "Windows has their Cancel buttons there" or "right click is always context menu". As soon as we got our first broken version out we found that even team members were complaining about how a certain thing was being picked up or how a door was being opened. And it's obvious, these are things we have learned over years of real experience, there is a universally accepted convention out there for basic things like "picking up an object" and you cannot mess with it! So schedule demos at every point of the project, run usability sessions, even better run Joel's hallway tests at every opportunity you get. 

OK on that note let me leave with some of our "hallway tests" put together in a little video by our design guru.

I'll be sharing more of our VR development experience here, so watch this space!

The Art and Science of Website Design

One day whilst at a museum showcasing art by a very famous artist a 7 year old boy stood in front of a painting showing a single brown dot, a blue sinuous line and nothing else. The painting was apparently of a woman sitting by the riverside. The child turns to his parents and says “hey you know I could draw that” much to the laughter of the surrounding patrons. Then what exactly made this painting by such a famous artist so special? Was it the simplicity of subject, idea and form? It was design.

Design is all around us whether natural or man-made. We always try to differentiate something by comparing designs. Whether it is a simple cellphone, a piece of furniture, the home we live in, the food we present and eat, anything we do has aspects of design incorporated in to it. So when it comes to a website that is actually our way of declaring “hey I am here this is me” design plays a pivotal role in capturing the attention of our intended audience as well as communicating your message.

Website design is an art and a science. Why? Well if you look at the millions of websites on the internet all vying for attention it is easy to realize why so much effort is placed into design. Starting from statistics, consumer behavior, psychology etc. elaborate attention to what processes get the largest audience and readership have become a science for website design. If we look from a different perspective attractive websites are no longer simple pictures or texts jumbled together, they contain audio, video, stunning images, and are increasingly interactive all making website design an art.

“To Be Or Not to Be” A Great Website:

So how do we design a great website? Well the first thing to think about while designing your website is what you want to communicate and who you want to communicate that too. That is targeting your audience with the right message. Most people will not spend a lot of time on a website browsing through material so it is important to keep your message concise. Think in terms of branding how do you want your audience to remember you and design your website accordingly. List out the main things that you do or want to express, make sure you do not drift from your main functions as this will dilute any message you wish to convey.

 

“Emotions Are Good” for Website Design:

Good websites are designed to have a personality of their own. It may have humor, be serious but it should invoke in the visitor some kind of emotional response. Employing images, animations, audio or video can easily grab and retain the attention of the audience as well as make it more attractive at an emotional level. Websites with images of faces and people also help to make your visitor feel more at home using sentimentality gives your website a much more personal appeal.  Check out the Moto G Website

 

Simplicity Equals to Sophistication

A great way to really loose the attention of a visitor to your site would be to cram it full of needless information and have a cluttered design that would quickly exasperate any visitor as they tried to navigate the site. Often the simplest designs are the most attractive so don’t go overboard by adding too many elements to your website. Clean designs are something Apple does very well 

 

 

Interactive Website Design

People love to interact with their environment. Adding interactive elements to your website increases its appeal significantly. The user experience becomes more personal leading to a richer more memorable experience for the visitor. Adding elements like sound, or other audio visual stimuli that appeal to one or more of the human senses lead to a positive experience for any visitor. Keeping the visitor involved doing something on your website means that they are bound to spend much more time going through it. Here is a good example... try out their fidgety menu bar!  http://rog.ie/

The People and Process of Website Design

Bringing together the multifarious elements of designing a website can be a daunting task. That is why it is important to have a team who know exactly what needs to be done to get your website up and running. The team should be able to cover all aspects of website design including coding, art, prototyping, customization, testing and validation (etc.) just to name a few.  The ability of a team to create responsive designs, inspirational outlooks and looking at issues from a different perspective all contribute to the designing of a great website.

That is why we at KAZ software have the some of the most experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds dedicated to give you the best website you can have.