THAÍS ALVARENGA


THAÍS ALVARENGA 

Creative Technologist  |  Narrative Designer  |  Environmental Designer  |  
28/03/2023

USER TESTS 2





Summary: Second round of user tests for capstone project, Solace. Used this form to record the users’ thoughts on the experience. The form is based on the Stanford VHIL Presence Scale with some modifications done to cater to this specific project.




TESTING PROCEDURE


For the user tests, I used a setup similar to the one during the Community Presentation.

The user was told to sit down on the chair, put on the headphones (adjusting the volume if necessary) and click play once they were ready.

The only introduction that the users were given to the project was: You will be experiencing a projected VR experience. Please sit down and put on these headphones. Check if the volume is good and start the experience whenever you are ready.

Once the user finished the experience, they were asked to fill out a Google Form.


  • The form


The google form I created for user testing has 4 areas.

The first area is on general thoughts of the experience and its funcitonality.

The second section measures the prescence the user felt in the environment. It is a modified version of the Stanford VHIL Presence Scale which I read about over the break. I changed the questions on self prescence for one of Character/Story Presence as there is no actual avatar for the user, but rather a character whose story we follow.

The third part is a narrative reflection where the user is prompt to think about what the story is and what is the message it tries to convey. I created this section because I wanted to know if the user was able to understand the narrative without any previous knowledge on the story. This way I can measure the effectiveness of the narrative techniques I am using in the capstone.

The final part is more about what the user thought about the concept and execution of the project, including what they would like to see incorporated/improved on.


Testing Observations


The first user was able to start the experience without any problems. She clicked on the start button using the mouse and appeared to be very concentrated in the environment and story. She did not appear to be distracted at any point in the 1 minute demo and was not seen adjusting the headphones and their volume level.

At the end of the experience, the user immediately expressed that they felt very emotionally connected to the main character and really wanted to know the continuation of the story. They also expressed that what popped out to them was the immersiveness of the sound and the style of the drawings (considered them very original)

The 2nd user had more of a rough start as there was an overlapping sound from the previous build of the project, so I had to restart the program. He also did not see the mouse in the setup position so I had to indicate them where it was. After starting the experience, the 2nd user also was very concentrated in the experience and only took off the headphones when the demo was finished.

Once the 2nd user finished, he literally just said “cool”.


Form Results


For Section 2 (Presence), both users ranked the story, environment and character with 5 (highest mark) and both expressed that the story was easy to follow.

With regard to the general thoughts of the experience,

User 1 said :

I really enjoyed the experience, I felt as though the story line was strongly driven by the aesthetics of the project. The audio told the story, as did the graphics, as did the character design. I think my favourite aspect was the audio as it was very emotive without taking away from the other aspects (character, graphics). I genuinely did emote with the character and felt intrigued by the story line.

User 2 said:

I really like how the project looks. The environment sound you have is very well done. I think the story was clear and I was able to understand it well. The animations are very emotive which helped me understand what the character was feeling and it complemented the narration. I really like the transition from the menu screen to the start of the video. I thought it looked cool. Cant wait to see the final result.


For recommendations:

User 1:

Only having the voice of the little girl be a little louder against the audio. Other than that, it was perfect.

User 2:

I think I would like the voice of the narrator to be more of a reverb rather than an echo. Like I want to feel the size of the space rather the repetition because it can be a bit distracted compared to the other things in the audio.


Extra


I also showed this experience to João from the Music Department as he is helping me with training to record the final version of the narration and making the special effects in the environment. I sadly didn’t ask him to fill out the form because we were both in a hurry. He watched the experience from my computer with headphones on. His recommendations were:

  • The voice effect could be improved. It sounds a bit artificial. Maybe play around with making it be more of a whisper carried by the wind. Something that would complement the soundescape.
  • It’s nice that you don’t have that much going on besides the environment sound. It means that you can add audio to enhance the narrative. What you have has a lot of potential, but I would be more selective with the folies you are using. The footsteps could sound less repetitive and more natural/ matching the environment. Go back to the Sound Library and try to find another clip that loops more naturally. They also shouldn’t be too heavy.
  • At the start, when you have the transition animation, I would like to hear a “whoosh” sound or something that cues that we are starting the experience. It would help to give that information so mapping a sound of the animation of the shadow would be great.

Feel free to reach out to me for more work inquiries or to chat!


Thank you for visiting!

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