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Through the storm


Building Virtual World Course at Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University

Instructor:Jesse Schell, David Culyba
Duration:2 weeks
Platform: HTC Vive + Tracker*2
Team Member:Jingya Chen, Shana Joseph,  Tina Han, Charles Ramsey,Mollie Braley
My Role: 3D Artist, UX/UI Designer, Game Designer
Tools: Maya, Unity, Substance Painter, Photoshop

Project Brief

Through the Storm is a virtual reality, an interactive story designed for the platform HTC Vive. Before they enter the world, a guest is asked to sit down on the floor, cross-legged, and is given a magic wand (a Vive controller) and a magic shield (a cardboard leaf with a Vive tracker attached to the front). The world was designed in two-weeks for the class, Building Virtual Worlds at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). It was additionally presented at the 2018 ETC Fall Festival as part of the Building Virtual World's Showcase for guests to experience.


From the point-of-view of a young child, a guest experiences the collision of a beautiful, fantastical world and a scary, real-world through a bedtime story told to them by the child's older sister.



Narrative Design

         A young, brave traveller named Cat (of whom the we take the point-of-view) is being told a bedtime story where she is trying to lead her best friend, Caterpillar, back to their warm den. Along the path home, Cat encounters many different obstacles, e.g. lightning, rain, dark tunnels, and falling flowers, and must use her magic wand and shield to protect Caterpillar and help ease her fears. Once Cat and Caterpillar reach the den, we are suddenly transported to a child's bedroom. We realize that the story is being told to us by Cat's older sister who is trying to protect her from the loud and terrifying fighting of the parents outside the bedroom door.


Path Design

 We hoped to tell a poignant story about how children deal with the unknown and scary aspects of the real world (e.g. a family splitting) and the power of sibling relationships.

Perspective 1
Perspective 2
Flowers and Plants
Perspective 1
Perspective 3

Indirect Control Design

  1. The narrator will name the guest as Cat in the beginning black screen

  2. Hands will be modeled on the wand and shield

  1. THUNDER = Yelling, Fighting

    • Guest must create a more beautiful noise by hitting various bells/musical instruments → Thunder goes away

    • You can create a beautiful noise even with ugly noise in the background; you can choose to focus on the nicer sounds

  2. RAIN = Crying

    • Guest must shield themselves and the caterpillar → rain stops move forward

    • You can’t stop the rain and it can’t hurt you, but you can shield yourself from it

  3. FLOWER FALLING = relationships, family

    • Guest must point their wand at the flower to make a new flower blossom

    • You can’t put things back together or fix it, but you can create something new and grow that

  4. DARKNESS IN LOG = Depression, uncertainty

    • Guest must use their wand to turn on lights in the log → move forward

    • Even though you can’t see what will happen next and it might be scary, you have to keep pushing forward and find the people/things that give you light and courage

Interaction Timeline

Day Time Environment:
Guest would experience the thunder and storm
in the rain, interact with bellflowers
By going through the dark log, guest could interact with mushrooms using their magic wand, to light up the environment. And they would enter the night path.
Night Time Environment:
Guest would experience the thunder and storm in the rain, finally enter the den, interacting with bellflowers
Bed Room Environment:
The guest would “wake up” realizing the hiding story behind the fantasy adventure

Playtest Feedback & Iterations


  1. Guests were confused about who is the guest and how does the guest come to be small? Giving a guest a sense of who they are could increase confidence in interactions. Typically these type of stories either give the guest a very clear role or simply let the guests be themselves in extraordinary circumstances

  2. The sibling, to protect guests, makes up a story where the guest is protecting a caterpillar. This is potentially too much abstraction to understand. Are we protecting the caterpillar or ourselves? Is the narrator a protector? The relationship with the sibling needs to be clear.

  3. Dark ending: The story seems to end with no hope. The fantasy conditions guest to expect solutions to each problem but the real world is unsolvable

  4. Improve the “message” that the world should support - perhaps that “the older sibling will always take care of the younger sibling even if things get bad”

  5. Suggestion: bookending? The guest can start by knowing it is a story and end with the ending of a story; currently, the ending is not bookended.


  1. Beautiful and attractive; more distinctive express of day to night transfer?

  2. The fantasy world works well with a child’s story


  4. Unclear if a guest is riding on caterpillar

  5. Interactions fit the simplicity that people expect from a children’s fairytale

  6. Make sure each interaction drives the emotion that we want to elicit (hope or none)

  7. Unclear if the caterpillar is walking on path or swimming - movement is smooth and resembles that of a boat

  8. Thunder and rain don’t seem sufficiently dangerous

  9. Changes to the music could help increase the sense of danger

  10. Connect dangers in the fantasy more closely with dangers in the real world

  11. Improving the sense of danger caused by thunder

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