VRibbet is a game where you play as frog, defending your nest with your extending tongue from swarms of bugs. Various assortments of bugs including jumping spiders, speedy worms, and elusive flies come from the depths of the cavern to attack your egg nest and you must eat them up before they reach it. The novelty of this game lies in the tongue mechanic as you aim your tongue by orienting your head in the direction you want it to shoot at (like a frog, right?). VRibbet provides a very comfortable experience that can be played by all ages.
The biggest technical challenges involved programming movement patterns or artificial intelligence for the bugs. Our movement behavior script allows bugs to jump with variable force and intervals, rotate in random directions, rotate with various degrees and intervals, follow a custom drawn path, bounce off walls, and are allowed to do any of the previous mentioned movements on any surface (Wall, ceiling, floor, etc).
The mechanic of shooting the tongue works very well, it is intuitive for users and little explanation is needed.
More feedback is needed for the player to be notified when his nest was attacked and how many lives he has left. Players would also like to know how far along they are in a wave and some indication of how well they are doing.
After several iterations and testing we quickly realized that a stationary yet interactive experience would be the most comfortable and fun for users. From this discovery we carefully designed the gameplay specifically for this kind of experience. The stationary experience also allows us to position the player such that obstacles never appear too close to the user (which is uncomfortable). The gameplay was also designed such that minimal input is necessary for the user; the user need only press a button to shoot out his tongue and the rest is taken care of by Oculus head tracking.
As mentioned in “What didn’t work well” we could include the suggestions that players have made. Additionally we can add different kinds of AI and movement patterns for the bugs. Another mechanic that may improve the game is to allow the bugs to grab the eggs and take them back to their base (like capture the flag), rather than destroying the eggs on contact. This would give player’s feedback on why the lost and give them another chance to eat a bugs as it returns to its base.
We iterated on our interaction mechanic after we learned about interactions methods in VR. In particular we learned that 100% accuracy is not always necessary and can be too difficult for the users. From this knowledge we gave the tongue tip a bigger radius of capture so it is easier for players to eat bugs without having perfect accuracy. Additionally we iterated on our locomotion mechanic. Initially we allowed the player to move around in space but we quickly realized that rotating the character by the gamepad makes users nauseous. Instead we adapted our game design to make the player stationery and only require minimal input (a single button press to shoot the tongue).