This was a part of a class where we explored working with narratives in paradigms like virtual & augmented reality. As a team, we had a shared interest in seeing how we can use either of these media to create an experience to combat stress.
Fallen Fairy is a virtual reality exploration that uses a narrative framework involving fairies, to induce calming feelings in the interactor. The concept for Fallen Fairy was inspired by the results of a survey our team launched at the start of the semester on the topic of combating stress, something we wanted to alleviate through the use of virtual reality as a medium. The 59 survey responses informed us that respondents found exercising (including yoga) and listening to music to be the most effective stress relievers.
FallenFairy uses the Oculus Rift headset, with is put on by the interactor who is then immersed in a calming fantasy forest with a musical nature soundscape. The narrative starts when an acorn falls from the sky and hits a small fairy, flying amongst a group of fairies, on the head. She collapses from the impact of the acorn and the other fairies congregate around her, concerned for her wellbeing. The other fairies request that you flap your arms along with them (similar to flapping wings) to help heal her. As you follow their prompts, the system recognizes your gestures and the fallen fairy gradually rises and becomes fully healed!
Our user testing feedback informed us that Fallen Fairy was effective in meeting our goal of relieving stress in the lives of interactors. We asked them to describe their mood prior to, and following, using Fallen Fairy and we noted that the vast majority of testers' moods improved following the experience.
Our goal was to understand the common causes of stress and what people found most effective when combating it. We wanted to get a broad variety of perspectives, and reach people across different geographical locations - hence decided to go for a survey.
The survey question types were as follows:
We collected 59 responses.
Based on our survey results, these were the top causes of stress:
People found the following the most useful while combating stress:
Based on this, we wanted our VR experience to incorporate some form of exercise/yoga and music.
Note: While ‘talking to someone’ was a popular stress reliever, speech would not translate well in VR, breaking the immersive experience for the user, and hence this would not be feasible to implement.
We then brainstormed different storylines and narratives that could help us incorporate these details. One of the team members had initially come up with the idea of a meditative space with blooming lotuses, and we decided to use that as a base.
We wanted our environment to have a whimsical and calming feel. Our moldboard focused on soothing visuals such as waterfalls, running streams, colorful skies, glowing lights, and lots of greenery.
To incorporate the idea of exercises, we wanted to add a character to the experience - something human like which would be able to perform a simple yoga pose for the user to follow as a guide, but ‘elf-like’ to maintain a mystical mythical element - eg: fairies, elves, gnomes etc. We settled on a fairy.
For the pose, we were restricted to only hand movements as Oculus has controllers only for the hands, as well as movements which would not make the wearer of the heavy headset dizzy - for example, having to bend down while wearing a heavy headset would have been difficult.
As corroborated by our survey results, listening to music is a favorable way to de-stress; thus, we wanted to incorporate calming sounds and music into our experience. One of the inspirations behind using a scene with water was that the sound of flowing water would be relaxing and soothing. Other sounds would include birds and crickets chirping, leaves rustling, and having light, soothing music in the background.
Our anticipation was for the interactor to be motivated by the desire to make the elf happy and reunite it with its community - and by its expressions of increasing happiness and contentment as more of the elf community appears.
We used pre-existing assets from the Unity store keeping our inspirations in mind, and went with the following for the environment and the companion creature (fairy):
We iterated our storyline based on feedback and critique sessions with the professor and the rest of the class, and also took into consideration technical constraints we found as we developed the application.
For our first user testing session we had a midpoint deliverable with the following scenes:
We modified the storyline according to the feedback from user testing round 1 as follows:
Based on all the feedback received + additional feedback from our demo on Georgia Tech’s GVU Demo Day, this was the final version we developed:
You can check out the demo video above!