Transforming Collaboration and Design in XR Game Development

Case Study: CoasterMania

CoasterMania is a mixed reality game where players design roller coasters in their living room. As the app and the team grew, they looked for better tools to design and collaborate together. ShapesXR revolutionized their workflow. They were able to create in mixed reality, improve spatial thinking, and streamline the whole UI/UX design process. ShapesXR became integral to CoasterMania's development, accelerating production and leading to an experience users love.

Background and Objectives

4th Wall Breakers is an XR studio based in Memphis, TN. Its founder, Stephen Rogers, is an award winning XR developer with a passion for creating unique games & experiences that push the cutting edge. Our current title, CoasterMania, is an upcoming mixed reality game, in which players create roller coasters within their room. Players can solve physics puzzles, create freely in sandbox mode and even hop in the front seat and ride their creations in full VR!

As CoasterMania started to get bigger, I found the need to bring on more team members to help build out the experience and as a result, new challenges arose having multiple people on the project. 

Our team is all remote, so we needed a space where we could collaborate and iterate together. With our title being a mixed reality game, we wanted to best highlight and design around the player's living room. As no two rooms are exactly the same, placing content in the space became a huge challenge we had to overcome. 

Our objective was to work quickly and iterate on our ideas. We needed to think spatially during our design phase, and keep in mind the constraints that mixed reality has on the game. 

“Hands down, the best tool for prototyping XR Content” - Stephen Rogers, Creator of CoasterMania.

Decision Process

My experience for design tools has all been in 2d up until ShapesXR. Shapes allowed me to quickly create and visualize things within the headset which saved a lot of time compared to the alternative. It also encouraged me to think spatially in the design and influenced my decisions to make a better, more natural UI/UX flow.

ShapesXR felt like the perfect tool for quickly prototyping and designing because of the intuitive and easy-to-use toolset and frankly fun to play with too. 

On top of that, CoasterMania is a creation game, and there are many parallels in the design that the ShapesXR team had already implemented in their application. 

Implementation and Use

ShapesXR played a pivotal role in the design of CoasterMania. It began as a virtual space for discussion, like a digital whiteboard, but soon evolved into an essential tool for designing and refining the core experience of the game.

The collaboration involved both the core team and Timba Games, a co-development studio. Each team member utilized ShapesXR in different ways. The level designer, for instance, used ShapesXR to create preliminary puzzle designs using the drawing tool and various shapes, which were then directly integrated into the game. Meanwhile, the UI/UX expert leveraged ShapesXR to enhance user interface elements by adding spatial depth and interactive features.

As the initiator, I laid the groundwork in these collaborative spaces, utilizing ShapesXR as a blank canvas to visualize and communicate ideas. Additionally, the ShapesXR team contributed by joining our sessions, providing valuable feedback that significantly improved the final user experience.

A notable breakthrough facilitated by ShapesXR occurred when our level designer, in the absence of a puzzle level editor, used ShapesXR to conceptualize and design 30-40 game levels. These designs were later implemented into the game once the level editor became available, demonstrating ShapesXR’s effectiveness in bridging gaps in the game development process.

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Results and Feedback

Ultimately, ShapesXR has helped speed up workflow & collaboration with members of the team. Everyone I’ve shown our Shapes spaces has been super impressed & excited by the ideas presented in the virtual space. Along with the collaboration aspect Shapes also deeply impacted the spatial UI/UX in the app which I think will make the game even better. Any upcoming projects I have where I’m working with more than myself I’ll be using ShapesXR as a space to solidify our ideas and prototype out together.

Future Plans & Recommendations

Any upcoming projects I have where I’m working with a team I’ll be using ShapesXR as a space to solidify our ideas and prototype together. It saved the team so much time, and I think it’s the best way to start designing for XR content.