National Museum Wales
To create an immersive, interactive, first person VR experience to take visitors on a journey through geological time with content that is educational, historically accurate, relevant to the museums within the group, and above all, entertaining.
The museum had set out in their brief the key time periods that they wanted the experience to encompass; Snowball earth, the Ordovician, Carboniferous and Jurassic periods together with the most recent ice age. We wanted to ensure the experience told the story of Wales in these periods and also that it included and explored specimens that can be found within the Evolution of Wales galleries. We identified and researched key artefacts and how they could be used to tell not only the stories of each period, but also the wider story of climate change.
In order to suspend the illusion of immersion within other worlds, we felt it was important to allow visitors to carry out small interactions; the sorts of activity that they might carry out in everyday life. We achieved this by following a task-based approach in the narrative, sending visitors on a mission with key activities that they would need to carry out along the way. We created a robot companion, L.W.N.A, to guide visitors through their journey and carry out any interactive elements that they chose not to or weren’t able to carry out for themselves. Working with Rob Sherman we developed a narrative arc that brought some peril and jeopardy to the journey while also telling the story of Wales’ evolution over millions of years.
We created six immersive environments, including the inside of the imaginary craft that would be transporting them, and populated each scene with accurate fauna and flora. L.W.N.A and creatures within each scene were modelled and textured, optimised to run in a game engine, rigged and animated and each scene was programmed for interactivity and rumble effects. Hand interactivity allowed visitors to press buttons, flick switches, pick up and throw tools and objects, reach out and hold giant dragonflies. We created a 360 audio soundscape that added further to the sense of immersion.
We designed a four-seated VR booth incorporating HTC- Vive Pro Eye headsets, rumble chairs and a removable chair to allow for disabled access. It was designed to reflect the interior of the virtual vehicle that the visitors would enter.
We incorporated quantitative user analytics to determine engagement within the experience, dwell time, direction of gaze, interactive responses etc. together with quantitative feedback via a short questionnaire.
The experience has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response.