We began the process by throwing random ideas on a white board. From mechanically controlled hamster balls to weight-loss themes, we brainstormed a wide range of games. From the beginning, we all agreed that we wanted our guests to feel sympathy towards our main character. Ultimately, we decided on a world where the main character has stage fright, and the guests would be helping him get over his fear. We wanted to name our character in an effort to personify him, so we went with Mr. Woha, and wanted our guests to be his best friend. The main mechanic was to be popcorn throwing, because we all liked how fun and fluid it felt in VR (our platform was HTC Vive, after all). The popcorn would be the guest’s only line of defense in stopping unpleasant theater-goers from booing Mr. Woha off stage.
We had our Character A, our Character B, and a role for our guests to play in helping our Character A. For the world-building assets, I decided on round shapes that would compliment Mr. Woha’s figure nicely. It was fun interpreting the classic look of a theater into its “cute and cuddly” counterpart.
After meeting with instructors Dave Culyba and Jesse Schell, they challenged us to use our trackers more effectively and to communicate our main character’s story without the use of a User Interface. He was to make full use of his expressions and the environment around him should support his story in every way. At interim presentations, our peers were unsure of why Mr. Woha was on stage and why we were throwing popcorn at guests in the audience. Jesse also pointed out that our guests would run out of popcorn too quickly if we didn’t figure out a way for them to consistently have popcorn.
Week 2 was going to be a busy one. Though our mechanic was fleshed out, we were having trouble selling the quirkiness of the world to our guests. They were still unsure of the shoes they were filling in our virtual world, so I pitched the idea of cutscenes. The introduction cutscene would explain that Mr. Woha has stage fright, and that you were to fill the role of his best friend. Then after completing the game, guests would be treated to either a “win” or “lose” cutscene. The former would show Mr. Woha happy and celebrating his accomplishments, and the latter would show him heartbroken and saying, “you promised you would help me.”
Another problem our world had was an economical one. Guests were running out of popcorn before the world was over. Our tracker was too fun and enticed our guests to tip over the bucket, losing all of the popcorn inside. The solution? A popcorn bucket that infinitely generates popcorn. Literal bottomless-popcorn.
Overall I am very happy with the final design of I Got Your Back. We took great strides to sell Mr. Woha as a vulnerable creature that needed your help, and I am very happy we made the final decision to include the 3D “Boo”s when the enemy guests get annoyed with Mr. Woha. My favorite detail is most definitely the infinite popcorn bucket. If we had more time to tweak, I would ask the team how we could improve Mr. Woha’s feedback. Maybe we scrap the face rig and just use face textures to express his confidence. I believe we over-scoped Mr. Woha before fully realizing what it was that he needed to do rather than what we wanted him to do.