A Fox Story - HTC Vive (Virtual Reality)
Production and Narrative Design
Building Virtual Worlds Round 4
Development Duration: 2 Weeks
Developed in Unity for HTC Vive
Programmers: Atul Goel, Himanshu Tekikar
Artists: Mohan Bai, Euna Park
Sound: Yifei Gong
Co-Producers: Atul Goel, Euna Park
- Communication tools: WhatsApp
- Daily update meetings
- Longer meetings scheduled separately on an as-needed basis
- Checked in personally with team members at their desks, given the 1 week crunch
PLANNING AN EMOTIONAL AND INTERACTIVE NARRATIVE
While we all came to the table with different backgrounds and interests, we knew we wanted to steer the experience away from traditional gameplay mechanics and focus on an emotionally moving, interactive narrative. Exactly how we would achieve this effect was a challenge that we had no idea how to tackle, but we wanted to make something different.
I had recently modeled and rigged a low-poly origami fox for practice, which provided a good launching point for the team's brainstorming session. The story we eventually landed on tapped into the inherent tragedy of parenthood; a baby fox who, after being nurtured by his mother, would grow to be independent and no longer need her help to survive. We decided to try and tell this story in the risky medium of an interactive animation, rather than going the more beaten path of creating a more traditional game.
After some initial brainstorming, we mapped out the story arc and the major events that would occur in the lives of the foxes.
We very deliberately kept the story as simple as possible to manage the project's scope, as we were already trying to do something different.
GAMEPLAY, DEVELOPMENT, AND IMPLEMENTATION
Once we started creating assets and building the code, we quickly realized that even simple interactions in this kind of environment were going to be far more complicated than we had originally anticipated. Our interim goals became largely focused on building the aesthetic of the world.
After communicating with the programmers, I found that one such problem was that they found themselves making decisions about timing and staging that they did not feel completely prepared to make. In order to help them, I blocked out all the staging for the guest and both foxes. The mapped result is shown below.
Our final presentation was received well. We demonstrated the world for the class and instructors.
- Ambitious world that mostly works, with a lot riding on the performances of the foxes and the animation pulls it off
- Going without any dialogue with a simple story was a brave choice
- The story itself was a complete and compelling narrative about parenthood and growing up
- World looked lovely and felt like a real place
- Music and sound were good
- Foxes have nice animation and interaction moments
- Moments when the fox was tracking the glow and reacting to it felt very good
- The story became a little opaque when the fox interactions were unclear
- More music progression could have helped reinforce the story beats
- The guest has a role which is well connected to the story, though the role itself is rather fuzzy