EXPLORATION OF PHENOMENOLOGY IN VIRTUAL ARCHITECTURE
The Labyrinth is a sensorial retro adventure set in the enchanting VR maze. Traverse through the portal to uncover a visually stunning, sonically pleasing, and immersive non-Euclidean universe from your own little room.
In the Labyrinth, players explore levels with the different environment that draws inspiration from the 80s Synthwave visual aesthetic. Manipulated light, sound, and space deconstruct the players’ senses: vision, hearing, and touch. The levels are tailored to change the way the players feel, sense, interact in a rich spectrum of sensory environments while finding their way out.
New Paper III // 2021
Architecture As Level Design: The Lighthouse
TUTORS: Allison Crank &
Raphael Penasa for TygerTyger
Lily Thin Myat Noe
The project brief is to build a VR puzzle game to examine and develop a new set of rules and techniques for designing user embodiment in virtual space. As an architecture student, I question the role of virtual reality in architecture and how we can make it more immersive and human-centred. How users experience space is critical not only in reality but also in virtual reality. I want to not only create an environment but also work on connecting the environment with people on a subconscious level. Thus, I chose to explore the phenomenological aspects of space and the multisensory perception of the human body in virtual architecture through the labyrinth game concept.
A SENSORIAL RETRO ADVENTURE SET IN AN ENCHANTING VR MAZE.
FOREST OF COLORS (SIGHT)
The first level deals with vision by the manipulation of light and structure. It is designed to anchor the eyes of the users along with the forest-like columns to the infinite sky above. The colours create the synesthetic environment with a hallucinatory effect, drawing players fully into the VR realm. Each individual may feel differently in this space, some may find a sense of peace within a forest-like setting while some may argue otherwise. No one should be forced to feel a certain emotion. As long as they feel something memorable and aware of their feelings when they leave the game.
VIDEO: Screen capture of a flythrough in the virtual lobby space.
ON-AIR (+ HEARING)
As the players enter the second level through the portal, they will encounter stacks of TVs and screens floating endlessly in the air. The combination of sound and visuals coming out from each screen will create a surreal effect like a scene in David Bowie’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. The
sound from one screen fades as the players go further and new audio can be heard, encouraging them to be aware of their own senses.
FURRY LAND (+ TOUCH)
This level lets the players enjoy the world that responds to their touch. It is in human nature to enjoy petting furs even in the game. In Down the Rabbit Hole players can pat the Cheshire cat even though it serves no purpose to the actual goal of the game. It is just to give the players the pleasure of discovery and interaction. There is even an IOS game (actually more like an ASMR) called “I love fur” which is all about patting furs. Therefore I made use of the psychophysiological response of a human to create this level.
404 (SENSES NOT FOUND)
The players gained a sense as they advance the levels. After getting sight, hearing, and touch, this level will shut off the senses one after another to make them aware of how important the senses are. The level greets the players with flickering lights from the neighbouring windows. After a few steps, the lights are turned off to complete darkness. The players are then forced to use their hearing to make out the path. They will hear the sound of people conversing from one window and look in that direction, the window shape will form faintly in glitters. One after another. Halfway through, the sounds will die down thus players have to rely on their last sense: touch. The controllers will be programmed to vibrate when pointed in the right direction. The players will experience what the world without senses feel like.
CONNECTING PHYSICAL TO THE VIRTUAL
The core value of The Labyrinth is for the players to be immersed in the VR space both physically and mentally. A space to explore their own feeling and relationship with space while understanding the importance of senses.
PORTAL X NATURAL WALKING
The mechanic is simply walking within the player’s available space (2m x 2m) without bumping into the walls. To achieve this, I introduced the portal system into the game. The idea is for the players to experience diverse spaces within the small area without artificial locomotion like teleportation, arms swinging that can create motion sickness. The non-Euclidean space inside VR will feel much larger or even infinite thus bring opportunities for the players to explore different zones.