Senior Meng’en Huang developed a virtual reality application, Escape Room, as an independent study project. The goal of her independent study was to explore the equipment and applications of a virtual environment. As a Computer Science and Visual Media Studies double major, Huang’s interest in virtual reality stems from its ability to merge her interests.
Developed in Unity and enabled to interact with the DiVE through MiddleVR, Escape Room combines trendy entertainment and cutting-edge technology. It presents the user with a variety of puzzles that need to be solved before the room can be escaped, just like a real escape room.
In a real life escape room, a group of people are locked in a room and given many tasks to complete before being allowed to escape. The participants have access to hints if they are having trouble. Escape rooms combine both the social and the physical, enabling people to be entertained without a screen.
Escape rooms have been present in Asia, Europe, and the West Coast for years. Now, they are are an emerging popular form of entertainment in many large United States cities. For more information on escape rooms, read Jessica Contrera’s article in the Washington Post called “It’s no puzzle why ‘escape room’ adventures are so popular.”
The application that Huang created is a virtual version of these escape rooms. It is an old-time wooden house which is inhabited by a soul who wants to be loved and understood. The soul communicates through a mask in the wall. The player may only leave the room when the soul’s requests are met.
The house has an eerie feel to it. It is decorated with floating candles, no door, a mirror, and unintelligible clocks and paintings. When the player attempts to examine something closely, he or she is pushed away. Through exploring and experimentation, the player incidentally determines how to move things around in the room.
There is a risk involved in playing this game: If a player pushes something out of the room, the thing will never be able to reenter the room. Huang says that if this happens the player “may lose the chance to satisfy the lonely soul and will have to accompany him forever.”
The DiVE wishes Meng’en the best in her post-graduation adventures!