James LaPierre

UI Improvements + SkateboardBot

James LaPierre
UI Improvements + SkateboardBot

Greetings fellow humans- and welcome to your regularly scheduled RoboCo progress update!

Lately, we’ve been focused on bringing our desktop and VR robot building interfaces to feature parity with each other. Most critical robot building features (attaching, resizing, and so on) existed in both interfaces as you can see in our older sandbox preview video, but some more nuanced features only existed on desktop, and others only existed in VR. So we now are bringing these features to the other interface as well.

To allow for the player to seamlessly switch between modes, we want the desktop and VR interfaces to resemble each other, but we also want to make sure actions feel great in each of these two very different types of interfaces. This leads to iteration!

So in the process, we've been streamlining the direct control aspect of using robots themselves, particularly in VR where we game devs haven't quite figured out all the conventions yet. One thing we've been learning is to consolidate actions when possible into fewer floating objects in the VR space. You know that scene in Minority Report (2002) where Tom Cruise is gesturing around with his hands to control a bunch of hi-tech floating UI panels? It looks cool but requires careful design. When you're actually looking around in VR it's easy to lose track of things outside of your peripheral vision.

So whereas we once had individual floating properties menus for each individual motor, we now have one properties menu from which you can edit an individual motor or several motors at once.

Before: Each motor has its own properties panel, oh my...

Before: Each motor has its own properties panel, oh my...

After: Properties in one place for quick multi-editing!

After: Properties in one place for quick multi-editing!

Likewise, we once had transmitters (remote controls for your robot) floating around the VR scene that you would pick up and put down. This was appealingly physical but led to a lot of "now where did I put that blue transmitter?"-type hunting. So we now have your hands automatically change into transmitters when you enter Play mode. And we have a floating menu HUD that lets you switch between transmitters to control various aspects of your robot, in the same place where we put other menu buttons.

Before: Floating physical transmitters to pick up

Before: Floating physical transmitters to pick up

After: HUD menu for switching transmitters and more!

After: HUD menu for switching transmitters and more!

This has resulted in a cleaner and more navigable VR space, and brought the desktop and VR experiences closer together.

We’ll have additional footage of these improvements + tons of new props + even MORE in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, on to the fun stuff! Check out this scientist and his skateboard bot buddy testing out a halfpipe…FOR SCIENCE!