GRADUATE SCHOOL · Mixed reality

SPLATROIT: DETROIT & TECHNO MUSIC

ABOUT THE PROJECT
Splatroit is an immersive mixed-reality game that intertwines Detroit's iconic techno music with its cityscape.

CHALLENGE
Effectively connecting virtual reality with the real world to provide players with an immersive experience.

MY ROLE WAS
- 100% Usability Testing
- 70% of Prototyping
- 50% of Research and Ideation
Tool
- Unity
- C#
I WOKRED WITH
- Hsieh Avery
- Cheng Boyun
- Mai Nguyen
YEAR
- JAN 2023 ~ APRIL 2023
CLASS
- UX DESIGN STUDIO II

ACCOMPLISHMENT

Splatroit was featured at the Ars Electronica and Detroit Month of Design.

Splatroit at Ars Electronica

Splatroit at Detroit Month of Design

problem STATEMENT

Detroit's music and culture, particularly its globally renowned techno music, despite its significant influence, has not been sufficiently leveraged to promote the city's positive aspects and cultural identity. Therefore, We need to showcase Detroit's rich cultural heritage, especially techno music, through immersive and appealing media, so that people can directly participate in and experience it.

Solution

1) In virtual reality, players punch paintballs that are generated in sync with the rhythm and beats of Detroit Techno music, thereby coloring the Joe Louis statue, a symbol of Detroit.

2) When they hit the paintballs in the virtual reality, they also can hit real balls set up in the real world.

3) By experiencing a blend of virtual and real worlds, players become more immersed in Detroit and techno music.

Design process: how i got to the solution

1. DISCOVER

Research

So, Splatroit's goal is to inform and share with people
the precious and significant musical and cultural heritage of Detroit.

2. DEFINE

Problem STatement

Detroit's music and culture, particularly its globally renowned techno music, despite its significant influence, has not been sufficiently leveraged to promote the city's positive aspects and cultural identity. Therefore, We need to showcase Detroit's rich cultural heritage, especially techno music, through immersive and appealing media, so that people can directly participate in and experience it.

3. DEVELOP

01. IDEATION

In this phase, we found the direction of the solution and went through the process of further refining it.                                                    

While searching for references for an idea meeting, I came across a VR game called 'Liminal VR.' In this game, players start in a white background, and as time passes, paintballs appear. Aiming at these balls causes them to burst, filling the white space with color. Inspired by this, I came up with the following idea:

1) Paintballs are created to the beat of Detroit techno music.
2) Punch this ball into the target to complete the Detroit symbol.


I shared this idea with my team, and we decided to start a project based on this idea.

We decided to integrate metaphors from reality into virtual reality to further develop our idea. The statue of Joe Louis, known as 'The Fist', located in the heart of Detroit, serves as a significant symbol of the city, embodying the spirit of Detroit.

Moreover, the act of coloring the statue through interaction with balls generated by Detroit's techno music symbolizes the player's engagement with Detroit and its culture, becoming one with Detroit. Through this experience, which blurs the lines between virtual and real, we aim to deepen users' connection to and immersion in Detroit's culture and the techno music of Detroit.

After that, I created a storyboard to further specify how the game could be enjoyed between virtual and real worlds and the interactions.

02. Prototype

We implemented the following in our first prototype using Unity and C#:

1) Balls are generated in sync with the beats of Detroit techno music, and the size of these balls is determined by the volume of the music.
2) Players can color "The Fist"  through a four-step process: Aim - Drag - Release - Punch.

03. Usability testing &
      analysis

I gave the player a task and tested the prototype to see 1) how intuitive and easy it was for the player, and 2) how interested the player was in the prototype.    

I continuously addressed minor usability issues and bugs to improve the experience.

Because After a month, in September 2023, we were planning to present our project at Ars Electronica in Austria and at Detroit Design Month in Detroit, MI.

4. DELIVER

Launch

In the prototyping phase of our project, we received an incredible opportunity to showcase our work at prestigious events: the Ars Electronica in Linz and Detroit Month of Design. And we attracted 300+ visitors with an immersive mixed-reality experience combining music, art, and technology.

Splatroit at Ars Electronica

Splatroit at Detroit Month of Design

hypothesis

During the ideation phase, our hypothesis was:

"If players can physically hit balls or balloons when punching balls in the virtual environment, they will become more immersed in Splatroit, and this will ultimately elicit positive responses."

I was able to set up environments using real balloons and balls at Ars Electronica and Detroit Month of Design, and had the opportunity to directly observe user reactions.

Observation results indicated that the reactions of 80% of users were indeed very positive, which validated the effectiveness of our hypothesis and led to significant outcomes.

What I've learned

Throughout the project, I considered a lot about how to convey the Splatroit through visuals, auditory, and tactile experiences and amplify its joy and value to people. This experience allowed me to go beyond screen-based user experiences, learning ways to create connections with users in environments where reality and virtuality converge. As a UX designer, this was an excellent opportunity to better understand user experiences and interactions.