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how to design a vr marketing game, that people strive to try out?
P L A Y I N V A D E R S
P L A Y I N V A D E R S - A 4 D V R B R A N D E D E X P E R I E N C E
We created a thrilling, branded, gaming VR installation which has more in common with a Disneyland attraction than an ambient marketing piece it actually is. Crafted from basic concept right through to finished product by MELT, this multi-sensory experience was one of the biggest successes of the conference where it premiered and it won an award for ❤ BEST VR EXPERIENCE @ VR Awards 2016 just 3 weeks later.
The project proved to be a great challenge, but also a huge opportunity for us to witness incredible reactions from the crowds, who found themselves shouting and LOLing as the action unfurled all around them.
C L I E N T / B R I E F
We were commissioned to come up with an idea, then to design and create a branded VR experience for PLAY, the second biggest mobile network in Poland. They have recently started targeting gamers in their marketing strategy as the new consumer group to reach. Their marketing agency — MediaCom — suggested the use of Virtual Reality in their booth at PGA — Poznań Game Arena — a conference which attracts over 80,000 visitors during a three-day weekend period.
The Client wanted to create a VR flying game inspired by the wingsuit jumps and targeted at gamers. The rest was up to us…
I N S I G H T
After a lot of brainstorming, researching and even prototyping different flight options (even creating a faithful VR hang-gliding simulator), we decided to go down a slightly different route. It involved bold design choices and taking many risks on a tight schedule, but it proved to be worth it.
Our Hang-Glider Simulator Prototype
We wanted the whole experience to last about three minutes to stimulate the short thrill of a theme park ride and get as many people as possible to experience it.
C H A L L E N G E
During extensive tests (essential when designing VR), it became obvious that we had to achieve a 99% “intuitivity factor” (which we succeeded in doing!). Put even more simply, our product had to please everyone — kids, gamers, noobs* and even girls.
*noob — a person who really sucks at a game but refuses to learn / listen to people who are skilled.
Another challenge we had to face was to invoke a flying sensation that’s impossible to achieve when simply sitting or standing during the VR experience. We did a lot of hands-on research in the fields of gliding, climbing, etc. to suspend the player from above, but nothing made us happy.
The indirect challenge was to revamp the brand image for our target audience. The brand wasn’t in any way connected with the target audience. Our experience not only had to resonate with gamers of all ages and skills, but we also knew there would be many polish YouTube gaming influencers reviewing and recording their reactions after playing it.
I D E A
Inspired by theme park rides, we wanted to design an experience which not only stimulated the thrill of a rollercoaster, but used modern VR to improve something gamers already love — the first-person shooter (FPS).
We also wanted to design and develop the technology to enhance the feeling of flying, involving more senses than classic VR.
S O L U T I O N
Our strong side, that many other VR companies lack, is that we put great significance on the real-life part of sensation. We designed an inside-out experience that started even before users put on their goggles.
As they climbed into the harness and were buckled up by our team, the adrenaline triggered intense feelings of the unexpected. A few seconds later, their hands were already busy shooting down pixelated invaders from outer space inspired by the cult arcade. The idea of adding the FPS mechanics was one of the best creative decisions we made during this project. The Vive controllers acting as guns are the most intuitive in use, and the joy induced by the interactive “shot ’em up” genre is unparalleled. Mixing shooting action with fast-paced flight between towering skyscrapers gave us exactly the dramatic results we were after.
We are true visual storytellers, so thanks to our roots in animation and interactive installations, the whole 3-minutes experience was tailor-made to induce emotions and keep players engaged. We started at the top of a 400 metre tall skyscraper only to fly down to street level, hidden in dense fog. Shooting enemies coming out from behind every corner, players raced through the city straight to an inter-dimensional portal which sent them to another world.
We stirred up competition by creating a ranking system and saw whole groups of players waiting in line to beat both their own high scores, as well as those of their friends.
By using a paragliding harness to enhance the feeling of flight, we overcame the following challenges:
- users felt comfortable, because they were sitting in the harness, buckled firmly in,
- users didn’t touch the floor, so they stayed immersed in the experience of flight the whole time,
- it had a fast buckle-up process, so we could process users quickly,
- the more users moved around, the more fun they had — that’s a bonus.
The last piece of our puzzle was to design and develop a system of fans that would blow air at the users, mimicking the feeling of wind flying past.
Our friends at Summer Agency developed a custom-made electric circuit board for us and connected the industrial class fans, to achieve a powerful, responsive wind effect that really added to the feeling of momentum.
I N N O V A T I O N
VR is an emerging medium which doesn’t have its rules written yet, and so we wanted to push its boundaries further and merge the experience with actual reality. The addition of a paragliding harness and fan-generated winds allowed us to create a true 4D experience, much more immersive than the standalone VR devices currently in use.
Mixing fast paced movement with an FPS shot ’em up often doesn’t work at all, causing all kinds of nausea. In our case, we managed to balance all the ingredients to create a memorable, action packed experience that left all users buzzing, in the best possible sense of the word!
R E S U L T S
With a three-minute experience time and a queue stretching around the exhibition stand, our PLAY INVADERS truly captured the imaginations of PGA gamers and delivered record levels of engagement. The opportunity to see over 1200 people squealing in delight and emerging with their knees trembling was a true triumph for our Studio.
- VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY (NOMINATION, TBD) @ MIXX Awards 2017
- INNOVATIVE EVENT EXPERIENCE (NOMINATION) @ INNOVATION AD 2017
- BEST VR EXPERIENCE @ VR Awards 2016
Creative Direction / Game Design by Kuba Matyka & Kamila Staszczyszyn
Client: PLAY (P4)
Agency: MediaCom Warszawa