Since the end of 2019, COVID-19 has played an indelible impact on every aspect of human society. During the quarantine, I managed to develop a pandemic-themed VR combat game to create relief, alleviate people's anxieties and deliver appreciation to the healthcare heroes on the front lines. In a VR game, the player observes the virtual world directly through their eyes; payers are even able to switch perspectives by turning their eyeballs just like they do in real life instead of using a screen or controller as an intermediary. VR also provides a superior hitting experience and a sense of immersion, allowing players to immerse their bodies and minds in the virtual world.
Eric and Johnson, who are friends of mine, showed their interest in developing the VR game. Thus we teamed up to design and develop the game. In four months, we have completed the game's concept design and prototype demo. Since we have limited workforce and resources, the game still holds great potential for detail improvement.
In this game, the player plays the role of a security guard of a lab where a viral leakage has occurred. Since the guard's location is the closest to the vaccine testing area, the player received this mission to retrieve the vaccine in order to save humanity. Therefore, the player has to pass the dangerous contaminated area and finds the lost vaccine in order to successfully save humanity in the end.
In the beginning, the character woke up from a leaked laboratory. After putting on the helmet, the helmet display showed the virus wandering in the room. Since there are no weapons initially, players can only rely on jumping to dodge dangerous viruses. When the character finds a weapon, he obtains the ability to kill viruses. After he kills the big boss virus, he will receive the final reward, a vaccine. The character passes through the dangerous contaminated area and delivers the vaccine to the safe area at the end of the passage in order to save humanity.
THE MALE CHARACTER
In the beginning, I designed the male character as a caped warrior holding a laser gun. Even though the design has a compelling visual presence, it was not the best choice while considering the gaming experience. After some discussions with the team, we discovered some fundamental problems. For example, our animator found that the folds of the cape could easily cause drop frames. So I made some adjustments to the character accordingly by removing the dynamic cape and the armour accessories on his shoulders to reduce the model’s thickness.
HUE AND TONE EXPLORATION
I chose matte material with lower reflectivity for the character's clothes, which helped reduce the computer rendering workload while maintaining an excellent visual outcome.
THE MALE CHARACTER FINAL DESIGN
The final design of the male character is based on a security guard at the Institute of Virology. I drew inspiration from many science fictions and apocalypse-themed games and movies for the creation of the helmet and uniform. In terms of the costume's colour scheme, we avoided the traditional black, white, grey with fluorescent glow seen in many science fiction works; instead, we chose a warm orange as our theme colour. The orange guard uniform design not only makes use of the colour's connotation of caution but also makes the main character stand out in the cool tone environment.
To help players become immersed in the role, we went for a fully airtight and sealed helmet with a built-in screen, representing the environment where the virus was airborne. As a basic design for the main character, we reduced unnecessary details on his clothing. Thus, the overall contours and lines were also kept as simple as possible. For the design of the weapons, we adopted a streamlined design similar to a katana sword and added futuristic purple, which made it lightweight and easy to carry while maintaining a fierce look.
THE FEMALE CHARACTER
The initial concept of the female character was to design a counterpart image to the male character. My intention is to emphasize women's social value through the character concept. The colour schemes of the two characters are complementary to each other. We chose green-gray and purple-gray when designing the female role, in contrast to the dark blue-gray and light yellow gray of the male character.
In order to present the contour of the female figure, we used softer and slender lines. In order to break the stereotype of female characters in most action games, we designed a similar loose uniform, which was used on the male character, rather than an erogenous tight-fit outfit. For the purpose of reflecting her elegant and strong female power, we designed the female character with a bullet-proof vest and other professional equipment. This fleshes out her character as a valiant and rebellious individual.