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  • Postmortem: Softy Simness

    - Roman Luks
  • Hi, my name is Roman and I am a gamedev enthusiast. I like to participate in game jams, try out all the new things, learn stuff and more.

    Currently, I am finishing up my master's studies of IT management at Faculty of Informatics at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. I chose a VR research as my Master's thesis and this is a postmortem mostly about the development and the experiment. Now, I am analyzing the data from the experiment and writing the thesis.

    About Softy Simness

    Softy Simness is a nickname I came up with for my Master's thesis VR project. It is a scene made in Unity. It is a passive sitting experience. Its purpose is to test my thesis project with volunteers in a controllable and comparable fashion. It takes 5 minutes. During this scene, users are being transported through the virtual environment. After they finish watching the scene they fill in a few standardized questionnaires - SSQ, Nasa TLX and Presence Questionnaire.

    What Went Right

    Setting up VR in Unity

    If you have ever tried developing a VR project in Unity you probably know this. For everyone else who wishes to try developing a VR - give it a shot. In Unity it is very easy to enable VR. Just follow the official tutorial - it's just a few mouse clicks!

    Size of the scene

    At the beginning, I created a default size terrain in Unity. Then I added a few waypoints (with default speed) around the map and measured the time it took it to go one loop. I wanted to have a 15-minute experiment so I created a new terrain with corresponding map size.

    It took me longer than I had expected to build a track on half of the large map. I spent a lot of time on performance optimizations and changes in map design to allow for additional tweaks. So in the end I ended up with 5-minute experiment which was optimized and completed.

    I was worried it would not be enough because in some academic papers I read it was recommended to have about 10-20 minutes VR sessions for the experiments. But my thesis advisor wanted me to start testing early (because he knew it would be hard to look for volunteers) with the scene I had already. In the end, 5 minutes proved long enough for my test purposes and it was also easier to test because each session with a volunteer took less time.


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