Mystery Run is a mobile game that combines augmented reality and riddles for physical and mental fitness purposes. The game encourages users to look for street signs in their surroundings that, when seen through a mobile device, reveal riddles. Each time a riddle is solved, a new location is unlocked and the player is provided with a clue to next sign in a defined sequence, which is one step closer to the prize. These challenges provide people with entertainment as they engage in physical activity, and company sponsored prizes act as incentive for increased motivation.
The project followed the design thinking process as a guideline, and was modified to adapt to the development of the game.
We began by determining the immediate requirements of our target users. We chose to focus on people between the ages of 18 to 35, mainly because this is the most accessible audience in a college town like Ann Arbor. 20 interviews were conducted around the domain of fitness, each consisting of questions such as:
These interviews provided us with a clear idea of pain points in the domains of fitness, and gave us insight into how we could motivate people to stay active and reach their fitness goals.2. Define
The second step in our process was to look at all the pain points and desires that we discovered in the first round of interviews and to determine what specifically to focus on. We laid out all the information we found and then categorized it based on similarities to create an affinity map. This helped us narrow our search to a few domains within fitness such as entertainment, health conditions, transportation, environment, and social. To prioritize within these issues we used the method of dot voting in order to finalize on three main areas we would focus on. These domains included environment, social, and entertainment, which we would combine to create a game that would motivate people to engage in physical activity.
During the ideation process we had to take into consideration in-house expertise with respect to what was realistic to develop. The process started of very broad, taking into account all the domains listed. We soon started narrowing our focus and selected elements we felt were most necessary in solving the problems of our audience. A few of the ideas we came up with were augmented reality, location-based feedback, and contextualization of location. Wet then further narrowed our focus and came up with features that could be implemented within these areas, such as location markers. This became the focus of our game.
After we had a rough idea of what a solution might look like, the next stage was to develop a very low-fidelity prototype with paper and images. This illustrated the concept to our users in a rudimentary way. The process helped us gather important feedback, which helped us better define our problem and ensure the needs of our target audience would be satisfied. We tested two different prototypes with users. One involved holding a phone in front of a user’s face while exercising in a gym to create an immersive digital experience. The other involved displaying information to a user whenever he pointed his camera to a specific marker. Both of the approaches gave us valuable feedback, and we discovered that users didn’t like the idea of being completely behind a screen while working out in the gym. We found that this made users feel unsafe and bound to technology. The second approach, on the other hand, was received very well.
The testing stage provided us with more valuable feedback from our users. We were able to discover what type of information users wanted to see through their cameras, what locations they wanted to visit, and how long they wanted challenges to be. Through several iterations, we were able to improve upon the functionality of the game and finalize on a product that proved to excite users.
We used Unity SDK using C# .NET 2.0 to develop this game. We followed agile development process.
In this phase we developed a low fidelity running prototype of the game in Unity SDK. This was the research and development phase where we checked the feasibility of the design. By developing a prototype and testing it on users, we got early feedback about the shortcomings of our game. We discovered that people do not want to interact with a phone while running or walking, so we made sure to reduced mobile interaction during these times.
By generating different test scenarios that could impact the function of our app, we created an early testing environment that helped reduce bugs in the game.
We designed a document to understand the data flow of each module. It described how the game would work behind the scenes. The design document gave us an understanding of classes and their structure, such as inheritance, composition and design patterns to be used. We used Singleton pattern, observer pattern and state pattern to implement our game. Singleton pattern augmented quick data access. State pattern channeled the flow of the game in each scene.
We implemented the design and fixed the bugs by running test case scenarios. In this process, we tested our game on an actual mobile device in a simulated environment. The agile development process helped with collaboration between designers and the developer in an efficient manner.
After developing each module, the developer tested the module by cross verifying it with the test scenarios. Test users informed us of any usability flaws, which were fixed in the same release cycle.
Mystery Run’s Unique Contribution
Statistics show that only one in three childrenin the United States are physically active everyday. This game contributes to the field of physical fitness in hopes of increasing the number of people who engage in daily activity. The game attempts to contradict the idea that video games are “unhealthy” and tend to have negative effects on physical and mental health. The research process involved interviewing college students and medical personnel alike in order to gain insight into what might make a strong impact in the gaming community.
Mystery run is unique in that it combines short-run cycles commonly used for training with the entertainment aspect of a treasure hunt. The game is targeted toward people who are social, motivated by rewards, and do not enjoy typical exercise. The existing market contains apps such “Zombie-run,” which is created around a mystical zombie world where the objective is to save a civilization. The drawback to these context-specific games is that people who don’t like this genre may not be motivated to participate. With mystery run we are trying to personalize the content to users, offering them the ability to have treasure hunts around different domains like movies, hotels, and TV Shows.
We are making Mystery Run motivating by providing players with rewards at the end of each challenge. The business model of this game is to partner with local and global brands that can sponsor challenges and provide players with small prizes. In addition to motivating players, this gives companies the opportunity to promote new products.
Another interesting feature of the game is the use of GPS to create new dynamic content. This will allow users to find unexpected treasures while running, thus adding a sense of surprise. These treasures can be added to a player’s inventory and can serve as advantages during globally created quests. All these unique game features are meant to make physical fitness a by-product of a thoroughly enjoyable experience.