Creating a VR app

Development of the Puzzler VR app

Puzzler is a Virtual Reality minigame, produced for mobile devices using the Unity engine, and meant to introduce users to the fundamentals of a VR experience using a simple “Simon Says”-style game.


Set Outcomes

When users have played through this minigame they should feel comfortable using the gaze control and interaction button on their mobile headset. Movement within the game is limited, making it an excellent test space for users concerned about the potential for VR sickness.

Create a User Profile

Developing a user profile personalizes the development experience and leads the developer to consider design questions that might not otherwise be considered.

Name: Jared

Age: 10 years

Occupation: Student

Quote: “That’s so awesome!”

Description: Jared is technologically savvy, but young enough to take major jumps in technology in stride. He is impatient and won’t spend time reading through instructions, so controls need to be intuitive and the interface graphically oriented. He is physically active and may try to intuitively use three-dimensional space to move. He has a limited experience with VR.

Sketch out the scene

Sketching out the scene helps orient the space in the designer’s mind. I learned to draw in 3d space so my paper sketches are minimal and are more nearly design diagrams such as I would use when designing a physical object, and assist with scale. I also collect images to help inspire mood and establish the color palette.

User testing

Frequent testing was vital to the development of this project. I had wanted to test Unity’s terrain-building features as shown in these early development screenshots, but I quickly discovered that they were too resource-intensive for mobile development without a great deal of further optimization.

Other insights provided by the user testing were:

The scale seemed appropriate for a grown man. Shorter users felt tall in the virtual space. Since the shortest of my testers was 4’ and the tallest 5’9”, I decided that the scale was appropriate.

Lighting provided a good atmosphere but difficulty seeing the color change in the orbs led me to make them highlight a different color.

Users were momentarily stumped as to what was expected of them when confronted with the orbs with no additional instructions. They were all able to figure it out after a few cycles.

Two of my testers are used to VR in the Vive, and one of them found this experience to cause a bit of vertigo.

Breakdown of the final piece

Players begin at the start menu.

Once they have hit “start” they glide forward into the building where they are confronted with five orbs that light up in sequence.

Fire effects by Webroid Studios downloaded from the Unity Asset store.

Once the player has selected the correct sequence, the lights briefly flicker and a fanfare plays. The player glides forward to the “reset” screen.


This game meets the objectives that I set out for it. Users can move through the game and successfully complete it, even if they have limited exposure to VR.

Next Steps

The assets for this project were provided as part of the VR Design nanodegree course. I would like to work through improving the look of texture joins at object scenes. I would also like to optimize the lighting to refine the mood while still allowing it to run on most mobile devices.

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