Multiple Inputs, Platforms, Locations, and People?

Update: Resources and References

These types of complexities are those that have been partially defined by previous ecosystems such as games and consoles. I would highly recommend drawing consideration from existing ecosystems like:

  • How rideshare applications define roles and navigate player locations in 3D space.

  • How Fortnite changes its interaction design between desktop, console, and touchscreen

  • How source control management systems (and even Google Drive) defines who owns what content, how they own it, what they can and cannot do in their defined role, etc.

  • How existing social media platforms afford specific types of information sharing and interpersoanl dynamics in different defined locations, but also allow for different relationships with those individuals.

  • How these systems provide cut off or shut down of potential malicious offenders

Obviously not perfect systems, but these are the kind of complexities one will have to handle.

Crossing the Boundaries between VR and AR

Virtual and Augmented reality are still in quite different stages of maturity at this time, but as we venture further and further into these spatial mediums we're going to be able to see a lot of integration of the two. There are components of this that make me very excited, and components of this that are a little scary - but most good things are.

In terms of design from VR to AR platforms, most spatial design patterns will be pretty consistent. I would stick with similar interaction paradigms across both in order to benefit your user from having to re-learn the entirety of the application. However, VR systems tend to lean more on skeumorphic forms of visual design, whereas AR systems tend to lean more on flat forms of visual design.

Multiple Inputs

Multiple input types are a pain, but can be done pretty seamlessly if considered in advance. One of the easiest ways to mitigate strife is through focusing on more object-centric interfaces instead of avatar or control-centric interfaces. This way most of the contextual information required to operate your application can be easily transferrable, and the input method itself is the only thing users have to re-learn.

Consistency is Key!

For multiple input support within the same experience, I would highly suggest consistent systems design. Similar interface visual design, but also similar information architecture, is pretty important context for you users to have. This way, even if the "save" button is in a different location, at least the user can map it's context to the main menu.

Below are some examples of how previous VR experiences have adapted their experiences pretty seemlessly between both tracked controllers and hand tracking.

A great example of a VR experience having to adapting with more skeuomorphic visual and interaction paradigm design can be seen in this "How to Hands: A Developer Deep Dive on Hand Tracking in Vacation Simulator" blog post, as it details the intricacies in dealing with porting an existing design to an alternate input.

Multiple Platforms

Multiple platforms can be fairly easy, or fairly difficult depending on the scope of the approach. If porting between similar platforms (VR headset to VR headset), one can simply transfer button interactions. However, if an experience is being ported between different platforms (AR headset to AR mobile) it will require almost an entire redesign due to the seperate nature of how users consume content through the hardware.

Consistency is, once again... key!

One of the most important things to keep in mind when working between platforms is that every general action that the user will take will have to be replicated across the platform - especially if one can save and bring up different projects between those platforms from the same account. Arkio, video below, is an example of a project that has done a really great job of transferring consistent visual design to platforms with wildly different interaction paradigms. The content feels very consistent between these platforms specifically because of the similarity in visual design, but also the information architecture!

Multiple Locations and People

There is not an absolute doubt in my mind that there has been an immense amount of work in social VR that has already been established. With incredible experiences like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, RecRoom, and VRChat - we can see a multitude of multiplayer VR experiences that have been around for years now. While I can confirm that it is absolutely necessary that we try to not replicate the harms of existing MMOs - I will not do a disservice to this by even remotely attempting to go into the design considerations necessary for this. However, I will leave you with a super fun video.

An interesting paradigm difference between VR and AR, is that AR has a lot more fundamental design problems to tackle still when it comes to multiplayer. This is specifically just due to the nature of people being in different places and having different environments around them. A lot of major content decisions need to be considered for multiplayer AR experiences because of these laws of physics that we have to work around (unfortunately).

Last updated