University Project. 3. Semester. Game Design & Development;
Play wheelchair basketball in VR with realistic wheelchair locomotion and multiplayer support. Learn more about the origins of wheelchair sports as a veteran in the 1950s.
Student Project, 3. Semester, VR, sport, mutliplayer, story, Unity Engine
Other Team Member: Juliana Kralik, Marius Kröger, Louis Vogt, Nepomuk Kindermann
My Role: UX & Game Designer, Developer (C#), Vision Keeper
At the beginning of our project, no one from our team ever used a wheelchair let alone played basketball in one. Therefore we arranged a testing session with a local Wheelchair Basketball Club. We were able to play some matches with experienced players and generally got a feel for the whole game and what it makes unique!
You control the wheelchair just like in real life: You can grab on either wheel and push it forward/backward to move.
To brake you grab the wheels and hold still.
My custom wheelchair controller then calculates the move direction and rotation according to the individual wheels’ speed.
It quickly became obvious that a good throwing experience requries more than just the hands velocity from the last frame. Therefore I wrote 2 systems that support the player. First the average velocity from the last 12 frames is used to calculate the throwing speed. Secondly a script checks if the player is currently aiming at any hoop. If this is the case, the optimal throwing direction si calculated and the players throw is slightly adjusted towards it. (If you are really desperate for a success, there is a secret aimbot 😉 )
smoothly rotating as well as accelerated movements are nothing for a VR-unexperienced stomach. To provide a realistic wheelchair-locomotion for everyone I created the indirect control method. The player still uses both wheel to control move, just that now they first control a preview and can teleport to its positon at any time.
Pushing the wheels and braking is mapped on different buttons, so you don’t accidentally brake, because you moved your arms a bit too slow.
Interactions with the wheels, like grabbing it or braking, are connected to the controller’s haptic feedback. We placed a big emphasis on feedback with our sound design as well.
We didn’t only want to create an itneresting multiplayer game, but also tell the story behind wheelchair sports. These were founded by veterans after WW2, as the world wasn’t prepared for so many injured bound to wheelchairs.
Before reaching the Gym Hall, where the main gameplay takes place, you experience a short story part.
The whole story is told on a detour from the locker room to the gym, as the actual path is blocked by stairs.
With environmental and indirect storytelling we want to convey how it was and maybe still is to be bound to a wheelchair.
The story mode can be played alone or in coop! In coop you start at the same time, but play alone until both reach the Gym Hall. Freeplay (only in Gym Hall) can theoretically played by an unlimited amount of players.
After a flashback from war, you wake up in the locker room. The player has a moment to adjust to the situation and figure out how to move with the wheelchair. Next to them is a staircase leading up to the gym, however they are unable to use this path with their wheelchair. Therefore they have to take a detour, the story mode.
After existing the locker room you are in the floor. Hand written signs lead you the way. We walls are filled with storytelling elements indicating the player where and in which era they are. In order to get to their goal, tehy have to overcome an improvised ramp.
Right before reaching the goal you drive though a small gym filled with weights, punching bags and other things to play around. If you are playing coop you wait in this place until the second player reached it as well, so you can enter the Gym Hall together.
This is the main location of the game. If you are playing coop, this is the place you meet your friend, driving in at the same time. Once you reach it you are free to choose from different wheelchair basketball themed gamemodes. More on this in the now following section!
concepts by Juliana Kralik
The Gym Hall offers a sandbox envrionment for the player to shoot hoops, test out the locomotion system and play a small selection of mini games. The point counter on the wall works and always shows the points relevant to the current game mode.
Beside freeplay, the players can choose from these game modes:
Throw your baseketball at a pyramid of barrels and knock them down as fast as possible. Hit the explosive barrels for an advantage
Spawn an arena map, created out of gym equipment. Use the layout for your advantage and hit your enemy with a ball, before they have the chance to do so.
All modes can be played alone or in multiplayer with friends