Jormungandr is a Virtual Reality horror experience that takes place on the ocean floor, where light does not shine and a horrible creature resides. As the player, you are a submarine operator diving to the bottom of the Norwegian sea. After being sent to retrieve the black boxes for the last submarine that went down, you realize that you are not alone.
Role: Design Systems/Technical Designer
Team Size: 10
Build with Unreal Engine 4
My Responsibilities as a systems/technical designer were:
- Assist engineers with prototyping of player mechanics
- Build basic ai entities that fit our established level design
- Script gameplay events
- Research and document UI that works in a VR play space
- Find, mix, and implement audio that fits the horror aesthetic
- Participate in agile development and work closely with all disciplines to deliver the best experience possible
- Work with other designers to meet the vision of the Lead Designer
- General bug fixing
UI in VR
One of my responsibilities in the game, UI design, was particularly challenging. Initially, I wanted to display a lot of information that would help the player explore. Below is the first pass which would help with navigation (glow stick count, compass, and oxygen level).
Brainstorming with the team led to the goal of completely diegetic UI. Hooking the UI up to a flashlight was the best solution. Below is a very quick sketch of the vision for a projected flashlight UI.
We needed something thematically appropriate for an underwater experience while also being constrained to the low pixel count of the Vive (first generation). To compensate, we removed any small symbols and text from the UI.
We found with testing that small symbols or text are very hard to read, so we had to move to something large and able to be read at a glance. At the time, the vision was a bit out of my prowess, so collaborating with engineers and artists was a must to bring it to life.
AI in VR
Initially, we had large plans for AI that our lead engineer was focusing on. However, later in the project it was clear that the AI would not be completed in time. As a result, I had to make very fast AI that would fit in our already-built levels.
Much of our levels consisted of tight corridors, so simple patrolling enemies was good enough. I made an Angler Fish enemy that would patrol up and down the caves and chase the player if spotted using line of sight and Unreal Engine’s nav mesh.
You can find the project here: https://midgard.itch.io/jormungandr