Cannabis Simulator is an educational VR experience used to teach 13-25 year olds about different side effects they might experience while using cannabis. To allow social engagement and to start a dialogue within the public setting, this experience was designed to have two different endings based on the user's performance.
Detailed Storyboards to Save on Production Time
When we were given this project, we were tasked with creating a fun, educational VR experience for cannabis's side effects in just 1.5 months! Our tiny team of just 5 needed to stay extremely focused. We were on a tight deadline, interacting with multiple clients, and working with a supplementary team in Shanghai for extra engineering power. I decided it was important to spend several days up front focused on a highly detailed storyboard. Here is an abridged version for the general storyline (without the specifics of the actual side effects themselves). This storyboard allowed for easy communication between the team, fast client approval, and time saved on re-iterations.
Within our schedule, we made sure to reserve time to user test. Recreating such perceptual and emotional effects would be difficult to trick the brain, even within VR. We wanted to make sure we accurately portrayed the side effects of cannabis, that the message matched the tone our clients wanted to achieve, and that our users felt like they learned something without actually using cannabis. Here you can see a general user test guideline I set up for in-depth qualitative interviews. However, I ended up going off of script fairly often. This was because listened to what the user weren't saying. So many effects were intentionally subtle causing some users to be unsure if they actually experienced them. For example, to express paranoia we made several posters in the room changed, had specific belongings follow the user's gaze (stuffed animal, piggy bank) and added whispers in a 3D space throughout the room. I often had to actively listen to the user's experience and ask if there were any situations that they noticed but weren't sure if it actually happened for them to mention these moments. Other times, I knew users learned and read the information we provided them with since they would use our terminology and phrasings. Active listening became the key to proving out our ideas for each side effect and fine tuning our design.
This VR experience is actually a small part of a much larger project. Because of this, our clients asked us to embed their design branding as much as possible. Adding this style cohesion to the educational infographics about cannabis's side effects seemed like a perfect fit. At first, we were giving several paragraphs of information about each side effect. I condensed this information and made these graphics educational, easy to read, and visually engaging.
SFX & VFX Design & Guidelines
Though rewarding user feedback and satisfactory micro experiences always enhance a product, SFX and VFX play a quintessential role in VR experiences. As the UX designer, I created several in depth lists for big and small interactions. Here is an example of one VFX design we included to reward the user once they find an object. It is simple and short but it also provides the user with positive reinforcement.