Inside VR Design: The Interface of ‘Electronauts’

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Flexibility

The hierarchy design in Electronauts also lends itself well to flexibility. With tools contained in physical cubes, the user is free to manipulate them in whatever way is most useful for their specific needs. This also makes the interface inherently ambidextrous; instead of having the Backing Tracks tool hard-coded into the right position, for instance, I can easily swap it to the left side which is better for me because I’m left-handed.

Being able to quickly and easily arrange the interface in the way that’s best for you is a lot like being able to drag windows around on a computer. In the context of making music, being able to quickly and easily adapt the workspace for the given task makes the interface more useful than if it was hard-coded to a single arrangement.

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One test of a great interface is if it can be used quickly and precisely, without getting into the way of the user. Electronauts couldn’t demonstrate this more clearly, as it allows users to smoothly control tons of variables even while being rushed along by the beat of each song.

What I really want people to take away from this though is that the principles of ease-of-use, hierarchy, and flexibility are ideal in any VR user interface, not just in a music game. The core design concepts imbued in the Electronauts interface can be applied to many other VR experiences, right down to using drumsticks—or some kind of hand-held implement—as the primary means of interface interaction.


Thanks for reading. This is a pilot for what could become an ongoing series of ‘Inside VR Design’ videos where we look at specific examples of great VR design. What did you think? Please leave us a comment with any feedback.

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  • Happy Sandwich

    Loved the analysis! Please do more of this kind of content.

    I’m specifically interesting in the “golden rules” and “cardinal sins” of VR design, and how to create really immersive experiences.

  • Great idea on the VR design series, loved it! And Electronauts was definitely a great way to kickstarting it. Keep ’em coming Ben

  • This is why I love Road To VR… cool technical articles that teach me something. Please keep this series going

  • Would love to see an analysis of the movement systems used in the abandoned PCVR game “In Death”.

    The sheer physicality of moving and firing using the virtual bow generates rich proprioception giving a really grounded feel in the game world, easily the best implementation of teleportation I’ve used. You have to work your upper body to move, its very smart.

    Whether creeping slowly with the slow stick locomotion, throwing a short range teleport shard or shooting teleport and combat arrows, pushing enemies back with shield bash, the physicality is simply fantastic.