The Heist is a high risk, VR gambling game (using the Samsung Gear and controller) to attract 19-27 year olds to casinos. The Heist is designed to be a blank slate and re-skinned to any theme.
Early on in product design, I interviewed several people in the millennial target demographic to identify our 2 major personas and their relationship with VR.
He is an escapist, wanting to play games or get drinks with his wife & friends for a few hours to deal with the stress of work. He generally gets pretty competitive in whatever he is doing. One of his friend's we his appetite with a few VR experiences. Since then, he has been interested in seeking out ways to play more games.
She sees herself as a social butterfly and a trendsetter. She generally gets immersed in whatever she is doing. She wants to be the first to try out new things and is always on the hunt looking for weird games and interesting places to hang out with friends and her dates. She has never tried VR but would like a way to access it.
We wanted The Heist to be a first point of interaction within the casino space for many of our users. Therefore, we needed to plan the user journey accordingly. Marketing and advertisements would be important attractors to get the users into the casino using the novelty of VR. Towards the end of the experience, getting users to join an email list or engaging with them via social media would mark the success of the game. We develop the idea of earning reward prizes outside the game to immediately interact with all users, even ones who did not win money, once they took off the headset.
Because VR is an interactive 3D environment, elaborate storyboards are often the best way to communicate the general flow of the experience as well as important ideas. Here is an example of a fast storyboard I made for the tutorial of The Heist. I break down the general overview of the tutorial experience, the pacing of the story the user receives at the beginning of the game, and plans for multiple scenarios based on how the user might play the game.
Staying on Brand
Because this game is an innovation in gambling, BCLC wanted to showcase it to the entire company. The clients needed the game to be void of theme so that various stakeholders could imagine re-skinned versions; however, the users needed context to understand what was going on, to rationalize why they preformed specific interactions and to actually remember the information seen during the tutorial. To do this, I created a toned-down Saul Bass heist theme. The music design, typography, an UI imagery were cartoonishly campy while not being excessively over the top. To kept a monochromatic, neutral tone within the actual environment, bright colors were only used to showcase game elements (score, time left, interactions, teleportation markers, tutorials, etc). Because of the stark contrast, users were able to easily identify key elements and were able to quickly move around and interact. Users were gradually eased into learned each skill, whether it was a general VR skill or one specific for The Heist. Though the story provided was very minimal, having any story to cling on to helped trick users into learning and enhanced their immersion.
Designing the Hook
In collaboration with the game designer, I used the hook model to develop ways the users could keep engaging with the game. We started with triggers and rewards and continued building out plan from there. Via user testing, we were able to validate some of these hypotheses and change the model to fit our users.
A large part of my role as a UX designer was charged with creating the standards and guidelines for all of our user testing. Throughout this process, we would conduct various user tests to make key decisions. Further, for alpha, beta, and our launch, I used a combination of surveys and qualitative interviews to dig deep into the issues or open questions we had. Afterwards, I analyzed these user tests and provided key design decisions to further the game.