There are few core concepts and principles that underpin most of the major product decisions and help to build the intuition for minor ones.
Core Product Principles
What is behind it
Magical Reality via Technology
We want things that feel real.
We want the experience to be magical.
We want our magic to serve man.
Magic is not wizards and wands, it is a feeling that things happen the way that fulfils and exceeds your expectations in the way that brings you joy.
‘The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.’ — Hebrews 11:1–2 The Message.
‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.‘ — Arthur C. Clarke
We make it easy to enter our space and start experiencing it.
We give a lot of freedom to those who master the space and tools.
We want a multitude of complex behaviours to emerge from a small set of simple features.
Instead of traditional User Interfaces (UI) we create tools that embody functions.
We want to support affordances of things found in VR.
What you can do is defined by the things that you have.
‘Form follows the function’ — Louis Sullivan.
Feature Design Guidelines
What does it mean
As close to reality as possible.
When things and environment behave in realistic manner, people can transfer their habits from the real world into VR and expect predictable outcomes.
If you release the grip while holding a glass, it falls down.
Objects don’t disappear when left to themselves (e.g., on tables or benches).
Improve reality for convenience.
Some of the realistic behaviours are not convenient (especially in VR).
This is an opportunity for virtual to be better than real.
Don’t make users to kneel or bend over to grab things from the floor.
Allow screens to float in the air without being put on stands.
Cocktail glasses are automatically refilled.
Objects disappear when thrown in the deep water.
Explain magic with technology.
When ‘unrealistic’ behaviour is introduced, explain how could it be made possible in reality by introducing ‘futuristic’ tech elements.
While a slide screen or a chair hangs in the air, it has a special ‘antigrav’ tech under it.
The floating object should graciously, almost inperceptibly float.
Sacrifice ‘power user’ optimisations for comfort of novice users.
Most of our users are novices and don’t use VR on a regular basis. They can easily feel nauseous, mix up controllers or put them down.
Don’t design mainstream features in a way they require VR expertise.
Optimise for sitting position and comfort ‘jumping’ instead of ‘strafing’.
Make VR controllers symmetrical.
Don’t introduce modal behaviour for hardware buttons (i.e. each of the buttons should have exactly one function).
As little VR UI as possible.
Operating with on-screen buttons and menus is cumbersome, not intuitive, and for sure not immersive. In most cases, there are ways to evade user interfaces in VR.
Use ‘microphones’ instead of on-screen ‘amplify voice’ controls.
Don’t make multi-level on-screen menus attached to controller buttons.