CloudWorks is a MMO style platform created to host a virtual festival because of COVID.
My Role: System Designer
Project Duration: 16 Weeks (2020)
Project Goal: To create a virtual ETC festival where 600+ guests can directly interact with the students and their work, without crashing, whatsoever.
What does CloudWorks look like?
What did I do?
After the festival, we created an offline version of the festival platform.
In this offline version, everything was kept as it was except for the Zoom and download links. It allows you to design your own avatar, explore the environment, and watch videos of students’ work.
Project Management and Pipeline
I was responsible for the main MMO system design, meaning I maintained close communication with our 5 teammates, 19 committee members, and a class of 44 students who were making crazy projects on a variety of platforms that we had to eventually integrate into our system.
Avatar System and Pipeline
To provide a variety of customizable assets within the time we had, we developed an avatar system and pipeline. We used 2D pixel art instead of 3D models, then colored and animated the frame sprites in Unity.
It allowed the opportunity to open up submissions from the students and guests, where they could follow our tutorial to create personal assets as 2D sprite.
Incorporating Student Work
To incorporate students’ work into our platform, I coordinated between the class and our team to communicate needs, and I created a checklist and a spreadsheets with a peer-verified system to help streamline final delivery.
I closely followed the class progress on their work, and coordinated our tech team to support the students’ work without compromising their work as much as possible.
To accomplish the work in 3 months, we brought in multi-disciplinary help from the class. I closely discussed our vision and helped them to compose music or make 3D models for environments that were still being developed.
Massive Virtual Playtesting
Our playtesting process included an alternating series of experience and stress testing on a weekly basis.
Following the playtests were iterations on how we distributed the content, and I designed theming and flow structure to organize the work from tech, art, and sound. By dividing the content onto several servers instead of just one, and adjusting our system and guest experience design, we managed to improve the robustness of the platform.
Simulating the Real Deal
We invited the class to test their projects on our platform to help them design the guest flow of their experience.
I was responsible for guiding and consulting on the students’ work submissions for the festival and the soft opening playtesting, which helped us test the overall stability of the platform and guest experience.
Guest Flow Design
Our festival website was the entry point of the whole experience, so we made sure to cover every step to help our guests get ready to enter the virtual space.
I structured the step-by-step guide, illustrated the graphics, and with the help of my teammates, filled in the words and recorded the video.
On the post-event feedback survey, the majority of the guests responded that the manuals were highly effective. From this, and the fact that the live support room was awfully quiet, we believe they served their purposes.
There were four main areas in our festival, each with different tones and purposes. I helped set and communicate the tone and guest flow of each area with various groups, and made iterations based on the playtests.
An example of me using google slides (on the left) to communicate our tone with the artists and sound designers to work on the environment simultaneously.
To accommodate the server load, we needed a “personal room” as a transition hub between areas. I themed it as your personal UFO taxi that picked you up from the comfort of your home to this theme park in the clouds.
This theming and animation design was to make this tech-wised necessary mechanics feel more natural and immersive.
Interacting With Students’ Work
Our team work closely together to iterate on streamlining guest flow, taking in tech, art, and guest experience into consideration, making it loud and clear that with just a few clicks, they could download the files, enter the zoom room, and start playing!
To keep it consistent, we designed standardized entry and exit points and clickable holograms that directed guests into zoom rooms or helped download projects. I communicated the template requirement to the teams, helped consult on the design of their guest flow, and organized the final submissions for their themed rooms.