Barricado – VR Interaction Explorations

Barricado is a work-in-progress room-scale VR survival experience that has allowed me to investigate some ideas about interaction in a science-fiction setting. The pitch I put together for RIT’s NYS_GAMEDEV jam opens with this description:

Barricado will make the player a “MacGuyver in Space” – desperate to survive and control their surroundings, free to collect parts and resources from around the station, empowered to activate the station systems and to craft and create increasingly powerful tools, robotic servants, and technological emplacements to help them survive.  In Barricado, the player will duct-tape and cobble together the means of their salvation.

Importantly, the principal interaction modes include:

  • Deconstruction – removal of panels and components of the ship and objects within it via a number of tools which should require convincing player motion to accomplish.
  • Gathering – acquisition of material and tools to assist the player.
  • Construction – including the repurposing of collected materials, establishing physical and electrical connections, creation of robots and simple machines.
  • Exploration – traversal via basic locomotion and climbing.

Deconstruction ( and exploration )

I spent some time developing a screwdriver analog, where the player would have to ‘unscrew’ bolts holding panels onto various compartments. Translating the turn values properly and making sure the parts were properly aligned took a little planning, but the end result was pretty convinving. Ultimately, I concluded that this mechanic should be used carefully, because it was fairly high effort for even a couple of shallow bolts to remove a cover. Rewards would have to be correspondingly high.

The clip shows navigation via ladder as well. The possibilities for tension while climbing clearly deserve more investigation.

Tool use, Deconstruction and climbing exploration


Power management was a basic game mechanic that I wished to explore. I developed a ‘plug’ mechanism that would click into place when a player brought compatible items together.

Wiring two devices with a power connector

I wanted to allow the player to use material they had gathered to construct simple robots as well. I needed a clear metaphor for snappable items for the robot chassis.

Assembling a robot from components

Ultimately, I wanted to emphasize fairly accurate interaction modes to preserve immersion. Where appropriate, I’ve developed contextually appropriate 2d UI for in game devices that would naturally feature them.

My latest work has been to develop diegetic interfaces for tools storage, including a kind of folding toolkit into which tools may be placed and removed. I’m excited to see where I can take it.

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Content © Mark Zifchock, 2020

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