More than a VR experience, Category 5 is a next generation recruitment platform that doesn’t just reach the new generation, it changes their perceptions about a career in the military.

Category 5 is set in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone. As players lead the relief effort we put their perceptions and problem solving skills to the test.

The early stages of exploration were used to test game-play mechanics, artistic styles and game development engines.

We rapidly iterated through numerous working simple prototypes, usually just grey boxes, to test mechanics. This identified the scale of objects we could use in the puzzle. For example, it wasn’t possible to replace a battery in a military radio, but it was possible to replace a fuse on the wall. This was due to the level of dexterity available in VR.

Visuals were a key area that required development before the client could commit to the product. The art style in VR is heavily limited by current graphics technology and we had to make a prediction of what technology would be available on laptops when we released the product. We presented concepts of a heavily stylized world and a more photorealistic world. Ultimately photorealistic was the preferred option so we borrowed lighting techniques from film (late in the day, long shadows) to obscure any lack of fidelity while using higher resolution photo- textures.

At the end of Week 1, we had the concept for the radio room visually as well as the basis for the game play that ultimately ended up in production.

Radio Room Concept Artwork
Radio Room Framegrab

We used the scrum methodology of software development, which is a an agile method.Testing occurred daily and features were selected daily to implement.

Development started with parallel streams of work. We split into visual, game mechanics and testing. Generally testing revealed issues that needed to be addressed at the visual, or user interface level and then adapted into game mechanics.

At the end of week two, we were able to present a functional version of the radio room to the agency. This prototype was able to demonstrate a photoreal ‘radio room’ with a fully functional version of the puzzle.

After this initial scoping we moved into full production to create the experience that is currently touring the country. DFR uses this experience in up to 15 different locations active at once thanks to our custom design Activation Kits. Nothing currently in the market was designed to safely transport the complex and delicate components of the HTC VIVE, or assist in rapid setup or pack down. So we made our own.

Technologies Used:

Unreal Engine
Motion Capture