XR Application – Richie’s Plank Experience

A screenshot of the street view of the virtual city in Richie’s Plank


Richie’s Plank Experience is a VR experience that clones the real-life environment of walking on a single plank from an elevator on the 80th floor of a skyscraper. First released in 2016, it became widely popular for its realistic graphics and heartstopping experience for users. Beyond the psychological experience, it also offers 4 bonus modes:

  1. Fire Deck – Users get to fly around the virtual city like a superhero with the controllers to fly around the virtual city and extinguish fires with a fire hose and rocket hands.
  2. Sky Brush – Users can write and draw the sky in different colors using rocket hands as a paintbrush.
  3. Nightmare Mode – By pressing 666 on the panel on the left, users will experience the plank with spooky additions.
  4. Santa Simulator – Reindeer will pick the user up in Santa’s sleigh such that users can deliver presents into chimneys.

Video gameplay of all modes of Richie’s Plank Experience

Why they are engaging?

From seeing many gameplay videos of Richie’s Plank, many users seem to be very immersed and engaged in the experience that the application offers as they react realistically. As Slater (2009) put together, there are 2 orthogonal components that contribute to users being engaged realistically in VR: place illusion (PI) or presence, and plausibility illusion (Psi). I believe that Richie’s Plank has very effectively fulfilled the two criteria, and therefore can engage audiences very well. 

Richie’s Plank Experience Trailer

Firstly, it is able to provide the illusion of presence, specifically the illusion of being in a stable spacial place and physical interaction. This is done through the hyperrealistic portrayal of the urban city landscape with moving vehicles and tall buildings. Coupled with the dynamic lighting and effective usage of perceptive illusion to depict spacial distances make the environment look realistic (See 0:02 to 0:10 of video). This is further amplified by how players are able to manipulate some parts of the virtual environment in a way that mirrors the physical environment. 

Secondly, it is able to trick users to believe that what is in front of them is really happening even though they know it is not real, which is a plausibility illusion (Psi). In order to achieve that, there have to be “correlations between external events not directly caused by the participant and his/her own sensations (both exteroceptive and interoceptive)” (Slater, 2009). How Richie’s Plank does this is by involving multiple sensory receptors to provide understanding to the players such as using elevator music in the lift and also having the ambient sound of wind and birds while on the 80th storey. 

Why do you like this XR application?

I like this XR application as it is very unique in how it has relatively simple mechanics and functions, it is able to become very engaging, so much so that when users engage with the application, they show similar reactions as if the things they are seeing in the VR application is happening for real. I am very amazed by how this is initially developed by a team of husband and wife before expanding to form a full team. 

I also like how there are different modes to the experience, which are all very creative ideas that use the landscape and do things that are not possible for humans to do. For instance, with Fire Deck mode, users can fly around with rocket hands and put out fires, which is definitely not possible under the laws of physics. Sky Brush also allows artistic individuals to enjoy the VR experience and fulfilling probably many children’s dreams of being able to paint the sky. These fun touches make the application more interesting. Notably, I did not see anyone complain about vertigo or other ‘VR illness’, despite allowing users to fly around. 

What features are well done?

The modeling of the virtual city environment is definitely a very well-done feature of the application. A lot of work is placed into making sure that the look and feel of the city landscape are as realistic and beautiful as possible such that they can provide users with the best experience. This is also why this experience is so well-known for being able to engage its audience and evoke realistic reactions. The picture below shows how the view from the plank changed as the application got developed – from the early access version to the final version that is on the market today. 

View from the plank changed from the early access version to the final version

It is also very interesting how the developers of the application encouraged the audience to use a real plank – making use of an additional sense of touch – to make the experience more ‘authentic’. It brings this VR experience somewhat closer to Hyper-VR, where the virtual plank now feels like an actual plank below one’s feet.

What features can be improved and how?

I think that Richie’s Plank can further enhance the illusion of presence to users through the usage of giving users a false sense of embodiment of a body. It is quite a waste that there is no feet tracking that is working well for this game. When the audience can see their feet while walking on the plank, they will have a stronger sense that they are physically there in the VR. Although there have been attempts at trying to attach sensors onto feet so that when the player looks down, it is not fully integrated. Though expensive, there are now shoe accessories specially made for VR so that feet movement can be tracked naturally. One such example is the Cybershoes, as seen in the picture below. 

Old sensor-attached shoes


Furthermore, the player, when interacting, sees the joystick instead of some form of a hand to indicate that they are currently a form of character instead of a pair of floating joysticks. There was feasibility testing done for hand tracking on Occulus but unfortunately there has been no update from the developers since 3 years ago. Actually, the developers don’t have to achieve extremely accurate hand movement. There are only a few actions that are performed by the hand, and therefore simply having an iconic representation of a hand would be a great start to better representational fidelity in my opinion.

Picture of Feasibility test for hand-tracking in Richie’s Plank

Last but not least, I think that this application last replayability. While the developers have highlighted that this is not a game but an experience, I feel like there are a lot of things one can do with the premise set up with such nicely done models. For instance, players can be given the opportunity to explore the city and perhaps even have the power to customize the city. In the future, it can even grow to be like Minecraft but in VR.


In conclusion, Richie’s Plank Experience is a good example of a VR experience and suitable for entry into VR with its simple mechanics and realistic modeling. While it is not perfect, it is certainly very engaging to the audience. 

While researching the XR application, it is noteworthy that Richie’s Plank Experience is not only played for fun but used in research. Surprisingly, it is not only VR research that uses the application. It is also used for investigation into acrophobia (fear of heights) (Hu, 2018) and mental dissociation (Caulfield, 2022). Therefore, it is an interesting angle to look into how VR can help to further research into human behavior sciences and mental health as it is able to offer experiences that will trigger realistic physical and bodily reactions with less harm (as it is not actually happening to the participants) and less cost (as physical venue and activity constraints are now not a problem). 


  1. Caulfield, N. M., Karnick, A. T., & Capron, D. W. (2022). Exploring dissociation as a facilitator of suicide risk: A translational investigation using virtual reality. Journal of affective disorders, 297, 517-524.
  2. Cybershoes US – Shoes made for walking in VR. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.cybershoes.com/ 
  3. Hu, F., Wang, H., Chen, J., & Gong, J. (2018, August). Research on the characteristics of acrophobia in virtual altitude environment. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Safety for Robotics (ISR) (pp. 238-243). IEEE.
  4. Reddit – Dive into anything. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.reddit.com/r/SteamVR/comments/7jbp3a/special_announcement_richies_plank_experience/ 
  5. Richie’s Plank Experience on Steam. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://store.steampowered.com/app/517160/Richies_Plank_Experience/ Slater, M. (2009). Place illusion and plausibility can lead to realistic behaviour in immersive virtual environments. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1535), 3549-3557.
  6. Todorov, D. (n.d.). Richie’s Plank Experience. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://dannytodo.artstation.com/projects/xzxqD2 

IKEA Place: Try Before Buying

Interior designing and buying furniture have been a struggle for a lot of people due to measurements issue and whether the product will actually fit in their place. It would be too much of a hassle for us when we have to go and return a large furniture just because it does not fit in our room. With the advanced development of technology, especially in the XR world, some companies, IKEA being one of them, start to see the opportunities on how this technology can solve their problems and benefit their business.

What is IKEA Place?

In 2017, the mega furniture company IKEA, published IKEA Place is an AR application which let users to test their desired furniture/products virtually in their own rooms/house. This application allow users to browse IKEA’s catalogue from their remotely and immediately try them out in their room by pointing their camera to the room. Immediately during the first year of its launch, IKEA Place gain their high popularity and become one of the most popular AR apps for non-gaming category.

What makes it so successful?

Simple and Straightforward

When using it for the first time, users are presented with an onboarding process on the available features and how to use the technology. This feature is extremely useful for those who have no prior experience in using XR applications. Moreover, with the classic and simple UI, it is relatively easy for users to navigate through the features in the app.

High Accuracy

Although some AR applications still seem ‘unreal’ in a sense that it does not blend really well with the physical world, the IKEA Place is not one of them. This app claims to have 98% scaling accuracy which is truly reflected when using the app. After selecting the item that you want to place, it will automatically adjust the size and dimension of the room and surroundings, even when you try to move the camera and the object around. Therefore, you don’t have to worry of the product not being able to fit your room!

Save Place Feature

Save Place Feature in IKEA Place
(source: https://miro.medium.com/max/828/1*FVjxiIJY3fqq2qFCeBNlWg.gif)

One of the design principles in UX design of an application is related to memory, how to make user able to recognize something instead of having to recall some information. With the “Save Place” feature, users are able to save their room design after placing all their desired products. Hence, when users want to go for a purchase, they do not need to remember all the products that they have put, instead, they can go to the “Saved Place” and see what products are used.

Find Similar Product Feature

IKEA has more than 10.000 catalogues which can be overwhelming for users to scroll through and search for a product that they want. With this feature, users are able to take a picture of their desired looking product, and the app will search similar products and present it to the users. This enhance the users’ experience since they do not need to spend so much time in browsing the catalogue.

Possible Future Developments

Despite all the benefits of the application mentioned above, surely there are still room for improvement that can be done to further improve the user experience.

In-App Purchase/Checkout

As of the current features, after users plan out their desired room settings using the IKEA products’ catalogue, users will still need to go to their website or the physical store to purchase the items. This can be quite a hassle since users will then search for the products again in another platform. Therefore, it will be helpful if users can directly purchase all the products after saving a design into a saved place.

Product Recommendation

Another possible future implementation is a product recommendation that can suggest additional furniture that can enhance the room. One of the example is by recognizing the type of available furniture, color scheme, and the dimension of the room.

Room Design Template/Recommendation

For some people, it might be difficult to design a room from scratch and they would need some inspiration. Therefore, it would useful if there are collections of room design templates that users can refer to based on the dimension of the room. This feature can also involve IKEA interior designers/consultants that can assist users in designing their room, whether it is by sending their scanned room, or via live call.


IKEA Place is one of the technological breakthrough in the shopping world by being one of the first companies that uses AR technology for users to ‘Try before Buy’. Overall, the user experience of the app is relatively simple and easy to grasp even for beginners. Also, there are some interesting features that are very useful in assisting users in choosing their desired product. Although there are still room for improvement to better streamline the user experience, this app still gives a pleasant experience for the users.





Enhancing Dining Experience with Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is defined by Microsoft as an enhanced, interactive of a real-world environment achieved through digital visual elements, sounds, and other sensory stimuli via holographic technology. It has been used extensively in the entertainment industry in the form of games (e.g. Pokemon GO), music and film. Its usage has also spread to other sectors such as commerce (e.g. IKEA Place), production lines (e.g. Glass Enterprise – Google) and restaurants.

AR is an area of technology that is gaining attention among restaurant owners as a tool to enhance customer’s dining experience. There are a variety of ways in which AR can be incorporated into the food and beverage (F&B) sector. A number of restaurants have been working with different visual artists to construct scenes and animations that can be projected onto the table. One of them is Le Petit Chef.

Le Petit Chef

They are a restaurant who worked together with an artistic collective, Skullmapping, to curate an immersive culinary journey by adding theatre to dining. They bring customers through different storylines, depending on the menu that they pick upon entry, using realistic 3D animations that are projected onto the table. 

Why it is engaging

They were able to captivate diners using AR technologies combined with music in the restaurant to provide a sensory immersion. It is said that the projected visuals did positively affect the customers’ dining experience, as the visuals helped in enhancing the diners’ perception of the dish that was about to be served, hence heightening their desire to taste the food that was featured. 


Although table mapping is not the newest AR technology, table mapping has been around for awhile, Le Petit Chef did well in a few areas. 

High Definitions Projections

They installed their own projectors within the event space to streamline diners’ experience and ensure that the visuals and its effects are of the highest quality possible. This is extremely important as AR technology is fairly new and is highly dependent on the tool which is used to view them. In using the restaurants’ own HD projectors, customers will be assured that the visuals would not be pixelated or misplaced (not in the right position on the plate or table), and that their experience will not be discounted by lower quality tools (with headache-inducing visuals effects).

Curating Different Storylines

It is interesting to see that the restaurant has put in the hard work to craft different storylines for different menus that they are serving for the day. What’s most appealing to me was that they have not just decided to bring customers to different parts of the world which the dish that is served originates from, using AR. Some of the visuals also feature a miniature chef as the protagonist of the story that diners are taken on. The miniature chef on their table talks to the diners using through the speakers around the place. This does help in capturing the audience’s attention as they go down the items on the menu. By the end of the meal, customers did report that it almost felt like going to Disneyland and they felt good about the entire experience. 

Areas to Improve on

Visuals for each dish

It is indeed a novel experience, however, it does get boring quite fast as there is a limited number of shows that are available for choosing. After a few repeated shows, it would start losing its lustre from the diners’ perspective. It would be unrealistic to demand that creators and owners of the restaurant put out new shows every so often due to the vast amount of time and effort it takes to craft an entirely new menu and create a new story based on it. Hence, I would suggest that the restaurant can keep this elaborate and expensive set up for those who want the whole experience (perhaps for a special occasion), but they can also use the same technology for each dish. By each dish, I mean that visuals and stories are designed for a dish, so when customers look at the menu, a 3D visual of the dish can be projected onto the table, and after they have ordered the projection will continue to tell a story about the dish until it is ready to be served. In this case, customers will be able to experience different stories each time they visit as they select different dishes for their meal. 

More interactions

Currently, the augmentation that is done on the table tells a story, which makes the entire experience from a diner’s perspective equivalent to watching a film while having a meal, except that the film is closely linked with the meal. I feel that with the rise of motion detection and tracking, Le Petit Chef may be able to involve the diners in the story-telling process. Using deep learning technologies to recognise and track hand gestures, it may allow customers to not only be in awe of the 3D projections on the table, but also participate in it if they want to. I believe that this would further engage them which will in turn enhance the entire dining experience. 


While using augmented reality technology in restaurants is still a novel concept, Le Petit Chef certainly did a great job and showed the world the possibilities in which the technology holds. 


Virtual Reality in Medical Training

There are multiple areas where Virtual Reality (VR) can contribute to healthcare. These includes mental well-being, physiotherapy, pharmaceutical development, and education for professionals and patients. In particular, we will take a look at education for professionals.

The need for accurate medical illustrations for education is undeniable. Since the nineteenth century, textbooks such as Gray’s Anatomy (1858), which is a reference book of human anatomy, gave medical professionals insights into the complex human body. 3D technology was then incorporated to allow for better visualization. Now, VR is the next iteration of such medical educational tools to improve the learning and understanding process of our bodies. VR is able to provide users with real-world simulations through dynamic visuals and more importantly, a risk-free and realistic training ground.

VR in surgical training
VR is especially useful in surgical training. It comes in handy since taking away experienced surgeons from treating patients to train students is expensive and may have adverse impacts on their patients. VR training beats learning from textbooks and watching videos which do not provide the required hands-on experience. In addition, students can use virtually created models of medical equipment that are not easily accessible and perform procedures without risking any lives.

Why VR in medical training is engaging
There is always demand for competent medical professionals. The application of VR in the medicine field intrigues me as technology has long been used for the application of medicine, and not the education of medical professionals. VR can serve as a mean to reduce the chance of human errors through simulation training. Users can build muscle memory for certain procedures and hone their psychomotor skills. A meta-analysis of the relationship between medical error and simulation training has revealed that simulation can reduce medical error and prevent some risks related to medical treatment (Sarfati 2019)

What is next for VR in medical training
Indisputably, VR aids medical training through detailed imagery which shows the inner workings of the complex human body. The hands-on experience provided is indispensable to the education of medical professionals. Perhaps, future development may focus on collaboration in the simulations. Much of the medical applications are team-based so such developments may help users familiarize with their counterparts in training.

Sarfati, Laura, et al. “Human‐simulation‐based learning to prevent medication error: A systematic review.” Journal of evaluation in clinical practice 25.1 (2019): 11-20.

Terracotta Warriors and XR


Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb is China’s first grand, well-laid, well-preserved imperial tomb. The terracotta warriors preserved in the tomb were buried with Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. In 1987, the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and the pit of Terracotta Warriors were approved by UNESCO to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, known as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

The application of XR technology enables people to get closer to the terracotta warriors, and even restores the original colors of the terracotta warriors, making them seem to come to life. At the same time, XR technology also recreates the scenes of ancient craftsmen building terracotta warriors.

Why the XR application is engaging

Before the application of XR technology, visitors could only look at the terracotta warriors in the pit from a distance while standing on a high platform. People can only see the general appearance of the terracotta warriors, and they cannot carefully view the details of the artworks, such as the decoration on the armor and the appearance of the terracotta warriors.

With the application of XR technology, visitors can scan the QR code with their mobile phones and watch different types of terracotta warriors on their phones. By rotating the terracotta warriors on the screen, visitors can watch the front and back of terracotta warriors, their faces, weapons, horses, and so on. It gives people an insight into the history of the First Emperor’s reign and the details of the crafting of these terracotta warriors.

Additionally, people can also wear VR devices to see the artworks in a more immersive way. Although mobile phones allow people to see the terracotta warriors in more detail, the images are flat graphics. VR devices make the terracotta warriors three-dimensional, and the size of the terracotta warriors in VR glasses is the same as the real ones. In addition to allowing people to take a closer look at the terracotta warriors, visitors can watch how the terracotta warriors were created step by step in ancient times.

Features that can be improved

Interact with users

Although people can see these terracotta warriors more clearly now, I think if we can make these terracotta warriors move through animation technology, so that they can do some simple actions such as walking, squatting, shooting, or riding, it will significantly improve the interaction with tourists. In addition, technicians can add a voice interaction function, so that they can talk with visitors.

Internal structure

I think VR technology can help tourists have a deeper understanding of the internal structure of these terra-cotta warriors. For example, a terracotta warrior can be broken down into small parts and assembled by tourists themselves, or the process of making terra-cotta warriors can be turned into a game of passing through the customs. Tourists can fire their own terra-cotta warriors.

Boneworks: A highly free physical interaction experience

If there is a game that allows you to move freely, all the items in it have real physical effects, NPCs also have a ragdoll system, and then enables you to have a pair of flexible hands, what kind of experience would that be?

What is it?

Boneworks is a 2019 First-person Shooter VR game developed and published by Stress Level Zero. The game’s design is entirely physics-based, with the player controlling an entire virtual body that responds not only to the player’s real-world input, but also to obstacles in the game world. In Boneworks, players take on the role of Arthur Ford, a rogue cybersecurity director who escapes to an unfinished simulated universe, battling surreal buildings and occult settings with a variety of experimental physics-based weapons.

The game uses a physics engine that is very close to the real experience. In the game, almost all items are interactive, such as water cups, trash cans, hammers, balls, gun. You can use all the items you can pick up in the game world Advance bravely, fight the enemy, and explore the unknown next corner.

Why is it engaging?

The main gameplay is to experience realistic physics interactions in semi-open levels and to combine these physics effects to unlock the puzzles in the levels. In this game, there are no traditional game guidelines or clear tasks, everything can be done according to the player’s choice to pass the route, the player can find their own way to play.

Boneworks has 3 modes, story, arena and sandbox mode. Story mode is more like a newbie tutorial, but only in the story mode can players get props to unlock and enter the other modes. Directly skipping the story mode in not possible. Wearing VR game equipment to begin with, players will be in an open museum available to visit, at each exhibition to experience the weapons props, as well as through the props to interact with the environment.

When the player is familiar with the mechanism will produce a refreshing, realistic experience. Players can freely move to pick up weapons and props, and when the bullets run out, players are also free to play, directly on the whack are not a problem. This freedom is very high, but also very strong simulation of realistic physical action gameplay greatly home immersion experience in VR gaming equipment.

What features are well done?

  • Great physics

Boneworks is the first VR game to use the idea of providing players with a variety of objects, each with their own unique weight and weight model, and then using them as components to solve single-player puzzles and battles.

Before Boneworks, while most VR games emphasized interaction, that interaction was “shallow”. Players could only interact with specific, scripted objects, and mold penetration was very prevalent. It wasn’t until late 2018 that a new batch of VR shooter games added the collision of the gun itself and the scene to the code. But Boneworks has gone a step further—or a giant leap—in physics. Almost all objects in the game can be interacted with, and players can also interact with other objects through the object in their hands. A more vivid expression is that it hits people with a frying pan. And in this interaction, the gravity of the object itself and various accelerations are also written into the game code as one of the parameters, that is to say, there will be objects that you can’t lift with one hand but can be lifted with both hands. There will be glass that won’t break when tapped lightly but can be smashed when tapped hard.

  • Hidden Sandbox mode and Arena mode

One of the coolest unlocks is the sandbox mode, which is neatly hidden behind a fake wall on the second floor of the campaign. It makes good use of whatever you collect during the campaign and puts it into giant blue recycling bins, allowing you to build any crazy death traps you can imagine. It feels a little simple at first, but once you’ve filled your arsenal with toys, you can spend hours tinkering with it.

The infinitely playable arena mode is just as fun, offering tons of clever new customizable challenges to beat in every way. Its three modes–Judgment, Challenge, and Survival–are enjoyable in their own way, providing reasons to return to Boneworks time and time again. They also introduce some interesting mechanics that weren’t explored in the main campaign, like the balloon gun, which lets you lift enemies, objects, and even yourself into the air. Some modes are particularly tough, including a trial that forces you to fight wave after wave of minotaurs without any health regeneration. If you beat it, there’s even an arcade-style scoring system you can use to prove to your friends and family that you’re John Wick.

  • Great gameplay

The game provides a very good physics engine, which gives players a strong sense of substitution. But this sense of immersion refers not only to the plot but also to the physical world of the game. The game does not introduce too many background settings. In the game, players must follow the limited prompts and the feeling of the game to keep advancing and exploring. However, these are not important. The unique style of the game, the operating experience of VR, and the physical interaction close to the real world is what players feel the most in the game. From the DAU data of VR content on the Steam platform above, it can be seen that the types of games generally accepted and loved by VR gamers are action, combat, shooting, and adventure. These elements are all reflected in Boneworks. Climbing, jumping, attacking enemies with bare hands or using guns, and groping forward in unknown environments, these elements make Bonework” easy to be accepted by players.

  • User-friendly

In the game, there will be 2 hours of user guide levels. In the teaching stage, players can learn and experience the grabbing and discarding of objects, the running, jumping, climbing and other operations of characters, as well as the use and selection of various weapons, etc. Each part provides a demonstration of the operation, and all items or scenes are included for practice, so even players who are new to VR games can quickly become familiar with basic operations.

Between the teaching scenes, there are text or direction guidance signs telling the player how to operate, and the player will feel very relaxed at this stage with the guidance. Excellent physics engine and creative scenes will bring players one surprise after another.

What features can be improved and how?

  • Motion sickness

In Boneworks, players can not only accelerate the run and jump, but even get down or pad toe. However, too much freedom of movement has also become the threshold for many people. Brain and visual mismatch led to the sense of dizziness so that many players in the beginning do not adapt to this way of playing.

  • Immersive experience

The physics-oriented gameplay of “Boneworks” is a double-edged sword. When everything is working properly, games can be quite magical experiences and provide a rich sense of immersion that few other games achieve. This can lead to nightmarish moments of frustration when things start to go wrong.

In Boneworks, the acceleration and gravity of the object are taken into account, that is to say, the damage I can cause by swinging the brick vigorously and gently swinging the brick is not consistent. However, in the game, it often happens that I swing the brick vigorously but there is still no damage to the object. The reason for this situation is very complicated: it may be the result of the cognitive mechanism of the human brain, the acceleration calculation formula of the game, etc. Since there is an object in the VR screen you see, so when you swing the brick, your subconscious mind will also think that there is an object here, so the force you use to swing the brick will actually start to weaken when your brain thinks that it has “touched” the object. What’s more, in fact, you don’t have a brick in your hand. Even if the handle itself has a little weight, it still can’t compare with most objects in the game. That is to say, many times even if I really want to “vigorously” swing the virtual object in my hand, the almost negligible sense of weight from the handle will still prevent my brain from really “strengthening miracles”.

Generally speaking, although the physical effects and interaction of the game are very good, in fact, no player can successfully “deceive themselves”. Players will be surprised by the performance of the game in terms of physical effects. But in the same time, the torment of being separated from the game world may not be resolved until the era of intubation. Boneworks has revealed the existence of this problem to most players who have not thought about intubation in advance.


Overall, Boneworks is a very worthwhile VR game. With a physics engine close to the real world, a futuristic graphic style, and classic gameplay of adventure and combat, whether you have VR game experience or not, you can get a variety of surprises in this game.






No Man Sky VR

What is it about

No Man Sky is a massive open-world survival game released in 2016 and has VR support in 2019. The world is so big that it boasts to have 18 quadrillion planets for players to explore. Every planet has its own ecosystem with its own unique flora, fauna, and weather conditions. There are various alien species that may engage players in combat or trade within the planetary systems. Players get to operate spaceships and freighters to travel between planets or bases. Players have to defend their spaceships and bases from pirates in the game. If defending from pirates is too mainstream, players get to become pirates themself and launch attacks on the trading posts. The games center around exploration, survival, combat, trading, and base-building mechanics.

Why is it engaging?

The amount of immersion that No Man Sky VR offers is massive. The VR gives players the illusion that they are in the game world. Most of the interaction with the game objects is done using hands and fingers which simulates realistic interaction in the virtual world. The VR allows players to experience things that are not possible in the real world with today’s technology such as operating and traveling in a spaceship. It gives a fresh experience that players are able to go on an adventure to the wildlife and build their own secret hideout.
The fact that players are able to play No Man Sky using VR makes it engaging because of the level of immersion that the players get to experience. The experience that players will never get with regular gameplay using a keyboard and mouse while staring at monitor screens.

What features can be improved

Another feature that can be improved is the HUD display of the game menu. It covers almost the whole screen. No Man Sky should offer the option to reduce the HUD display to mobile size. Although it is not a big issue as most people would not be playing the game while interacting with the game menu.

The performance of No Man Sky VR can be improved. Due to the limitation of the hardware, No Man Sky VR suffers a performance penalty in terms of graphics and frame rate. A quick fix would be to optimize the game as much as possible. The performance may be drastically improved at the upcoming launch of PlayStation VR2.


[MrWhitty2000]. (2022, August 21). No Man’s Sky VR Is More Immersive Than You Probably Realize [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPaiML7PNCA&ab_channel=MrWhitty2000

Kuchera, B. (2019, August 15). No Man’s Sky in VR is the best and worst of modern VR. Polygon. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.polygon.com/2019/8/15/20806094/no-mans-sky-beyond-pc-vr-impressions-rift-s-index-psvr

[PlayStation]. (2023, June 3). No Man’s Sky – State of Play June 2022 Announce Trailer | PS VR2 Games [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zd61kKEAMA&ab_channel=PlayStation

[Cas and Chary VR]. (2019, August 20). No Man’s Sky VR – 20 Tips and Tricks For Beginner VR Players [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zd61kKEAMA&ab_channel=PlayStation

MondlyVR: Start learning new languages in Virtual Reality


MondlyVR is a Virtual Reality application in education for language learning. It is available on Steam and the Oculus Store and compatible with Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest headsets. Undoubtedly, the best way to learn a language is to integrate it into a specific locale. However, the teaching conditions may not guarantee that every class has foreign teachers, and not every student has the chance to communicate with native speakers most of the time. MondlyVR provides an immersive and innovative language learning experience with advanced chatbot and speech recognition technology.

Engaging Design

Gamified learning process

Learning a new language can be tedious and frustrating at times. MondlyVR considers this, and instead of taking the traditional approach of learning a new language through books and courses, it tries to make learning a new language fun through a gamified learning experience to increase engagement. It is well-designed and uses graphics and animation to create a game-like dynamic. After completing lessons and exercises, users earn points to track their winning streak and compare their performance with friends and other users on the MondlyVR leaderboard. It creates a fun, game-like environment and helps maintain momentum and engagement. In most core lessons, visual representations of the words taught help to enhance learning and retention.

Simulated but realistic conversation situations

This virtual immersion tool will place users in a simulated environment. Users are immersed in various situations requiring them to converse with locals, including simulating grocery shopping, booking a flight, checking-in in front of the hotel reception desk, or ordering food at a restaurant. In other words, the app’s goal is to simulate real-life situations of native speakers through VR and let users stay at home but have an immersive experience. In that case, users are more engaged because of the simulated but realistic surroundings.

Well-done Features

Multi-player mode

There is a multi-player mode for users to connect with people worldwide, bringing people together. Users will be automatically assigned to a VR room with up to 11 other participants. Users can socialize and practice the language they want to learn “face-to-face” as if they were in the same room, vastly improving user participation and interactivity. With speech recognition, intelligent suggestions, and real-time translation, MondlyVR will ensure that users don’t get stuck on words they don’t remember and keep their conversations flowing smoothly.

Effective curriculum design

MondlyVR supports various languages and different levels of courses. It offers the option to switch between transliteration and script, which is very useful for learning a new language. Generally, it schedules short (around 10-15 minutes each) but frequent lessons. MondlyVR is designed to be dipped in and out of, and all the progress will be saved for users to come back to. The platform provides users with daily lessons that include sentences and new vocabulary so that users can learn coherently. It gives users their learning feedback immediately. At the end of each class, users can jot down everything they’ve learned. There are also weekly quizzes for users to test their learning outcomes and track their learning progress.

Diversifyed products under Mondly

Besides MondlyVR, Mondly offers other products to provide users with multiple options. The products include Mondly Languages, MondlyAR, Mondly Kids, etc. Mondly Languages is a primary language learning app that integrates chatbot and speech recognition technologies to help users learn any of the 33 languages it offers. MondlyAR takes a scan of the room and will have an avatar “teacher” who brings virtual objects, like animals, musical instruments, planets, etc.—into the study room as teaching tools. It is similar to a classroom lecture, but users can interact with the animations, tapping them on devices or even getting up to walk around and obtain a 360-degree view. Mondly Kids is similar to the main app but designed for toddlers and kids. Mondly Languages and MondlyAR could not provide a learning journey as immersive as MondlyVR. Still, users can apply them on mobile phones or pads when they are not equipped with a VR headset at their sides or do not have a decent space for a VR experience. For example, users can easily use their fragmented time to study during their commuter routine by using their mobile phones. These various products and tools are user-friendly and humanized for users to choose based on their time, location, equipment, and preference.

Mondly Languages

Areas of Improvement

Not applicable for advanced learners

Mondly is a fascinating and helpful application for users to start learning a language. It provides an interactive interface, lively animation, immersive world to give beginners an impressive experience of learning a new language. While it’s easy to dive into the technicalities of the Mondly application, one limitation is it needs to be more diverse in its language lessons. Advanced users (B2 to C2 level) may need suitable grammar topics, appropriate lessons, and vocabulary. Therefore, users who want to find advanced daily lessons must look for other resources to supplement these missing vital factors. The direction for Mondly to improve could be to add more intermediate or advanced courses and content, trying to expand the range of target users.

Same format across all languages

Unlike a platform designed for one specific language, whose functionality is built around particular features of that language, the Mondly system is a template across all languages. It is not a fundamental shortcoming because this standard design is the best way to deliver an effective learning outcome. However, users might get tired of the single format after a while if they learn more than one language simultaneously. In that case, Mondly may consider upgrading the design for different languages to ensure users can have a novel experience even though they are using this application to learn multiple languages simultaneously.


MondlyVR is user-friendly and exciting. I like it and want to recommend it to people who intend to learn a new language for whatever purpose. It’s straightforward to get started. Users will learn words and phrases quickly with the help of well-designed sessions. Besides, it provides an immersive world to bring users into simulated but realistic situations to practice languages. Users can also easily find native speakers to communicate with voice translation. The above solves the environmental limitations of language learning in a significant context and encourages users to concentrate on learning. I am confident that users as language beginners would be able to choose a best-fit product under Mondly company. But if you are an advanced learner, let’s look forward to Mondly’s further progress in the future.


Mondly: Practice languages in VR on Oculus quest. Meta Quest VR Headsets, Accessories & Equipment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/4214902388537196/

Category, M. in N. (2022, December 13). Mondly VR Multiplayer: The future of language learning in virtual reality. Mondly Blog. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.mondly.com/blog/take-a-glimpse-into-the-future-with-mondly-vr-multiplayer/

Mondly VR: Language learning immersion. Mondly. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.mondly.com/vr

*, N., F, K., & TheThailandLife. (2021, July 8). My personal mondly review – learning thai on premium (2021). The Thailand Life | Award-Winning Thai Blog. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.thethailandlife.com/mondly-review

Advincula, C. J. (2022, November 21). Mondly review: 7 bona fide features with digital advantages – Ling App. ling. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://ling-app.com/tips/mondly-review/

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, December 2). Mondly. Wikipedia. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondly

Among Us VR

What is it?

Among Us VR is a virtual reality (VR) remake of the classic social game Among Us, which is an online multiplayer strategy game of survival. Among Us launched in 2018 by Innersloth and became extremely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a semblance of normalcy and social engagement during the global lockdowns. It took a while for this game to finally be released in VR, but it seems to have been worth the wait.

The game has 4–10 players aboard an alien spaceship called the Skeld. Each player is assigned a private role as either a “crewmate” or an “impostor.” Crewmates must run around the ship completing a set of tasks while keeping an eye on the others to find and avoid being killed by one or more impostors. Players can be voted off the ship when a crewmate’s body is found, or an emergency meeting is called.

Winning for the crewmates entails successfully identifying and voting off all the impostors or completing all the tasks. As for the impostors, they must kill enough crewmates to equal the number of impostors to the number of crewmates, while convincing everyone that they too are a crewmate.

A personal favorite

As someone who has played the original 2D version a little too much, the VR remake adds to the tension and dramatizes the game even more. It is more than just any other social game as it involves reading personalities and strategizing to win.

Furthermore, each aspect of the VR remake is faithfully reconstructed from the original flat game. It not only preserves the exciting elements of the original game but elevates the experience in this game of survival, teamwork, and betrayal.

Why is it engaging?

The first-person VR perspective adds several dimensions to the game along with a greater sense of presence. Walking around a 3D rendition of the Skeld spaceship map with motion controls, performing tasks like fueling engines with a manual pump or setting the course holding the steering, is far more intuitive than doing all of this on the flat version of the game.

Furthermore, it makes the user feel like they really are aboard the spaceship. The flickering of lights before they completely go out or the sudden locking of doors when the user is in a room on one side of the ship causes a palpable panic and physically startles the users, making the experience even more realistic.

From performing the tasks, which are like mini-games, to slowly glancing over your shoulder, the VR rendition brings a new level of suspense to the game. This provides a fresh and familiar feel while simultaneously accentuating the best features of the original game.

Standout features

  • The game mechanics were translated extremely well from the 2D game to the VR remake. Completing tasks, running around when the lights get sabotaged, etc. are very fun in VR and extremely immersive.
  • The hand gestures for performing tasks and maneuvering about the spaceship are extremely intuitive, making it more lifelike.
  • Additionally, the soundscape adds to the overall immersive experience. Proximity chat is perhaps one of the most stand-out features of the game. Allowing nearby crewmates to communicate with each other, being able to hear the footsteps and voices from the direction they are coming in, as well as the sound of fellow crewmates being killed nearby makes it even more immersive and really tense for the crewmates, fostering dramatic tension and outright fear.
  • The ability to talk with the other players and emote with hand gestures made this party game feel like an actual party.
  • The game also accommodates motion sickness and prevents potential nausea risks by providing optional blinders for the camera.

Possible improvements

  • Low precision controls: While the hand gestures are definitely a great feature, the controls are slightly chunky. This takes a while to get used to while completing tasks aboard the spaceship. A daintier set of hands could help with this, and providing greater precision while performing tasks and reducing the dependence on the user’s depth perception.
  • Narrow viewing area: Performing tasks narrows the viewable area, and coupled with the chunky control, it becomes tough to maneuver and still be vigilant at the same time, especially when there are multiple crewmates performing the same task.
  • Creative Design: The design of the Skeld spaceship itself was intended to be cartoonish and pristine but deters from the reality that one may expect aboard a spaceship. This borders more on the creative side to have a greater sense of detail in the rooms and make them more plentiful. Perhaps adding some posters to the walls, filth on the spaceship, or food in the cafeteria could add to the detail.
  • A single map: There is only a single map available in the game right now, making the experience limited. The addition of other maps, as there are in the original game, would encourage a larger number of users to return to the game.
  • Lack of customization: The original game had several options like choosing the number of impostors, altering the kill cooldown time, and several other such settings to alter the gameplay. These alterations could either increase or decrease the difficulty of the game, but currently, no such customization is possible in the VR game.


Among Us is a game that was perfectly designed to be played in a VR environment. The VR version received immense praise for the exceptional immersive experience it provides with its game mechanics, soundscape, and interactivity.

During the pandemic, when the original game was wildly popular, I remember playing it with all of my friends daily and enjoying it so much. The fact that this game is now in VR makes it even more engaging.

It is social, interactive, devious, and now it is immersive!


[1] Among Us VR – Launch Trailer | Meta Quest 2 + Rift Platforms, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y_QmaFkJ4g

[2] Everyone’s Playing Among Us, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/style/among-us.html

[3] Among Us Press-Kit, https://schellgames.com/press/among-us-vr-press-kit

[4] Among Us VR Review (Nov. 11, 2022), https://www.ign.com/articles/among-us-vr-review

The Great Ocean VR

What is it?

The Great Ocean from Actrio Studio is a unique VR experience that allows one to embark on a stimulating underwater mission while learning more about the fascinating intricacies of our ocean. The game was released on September 17, which is also World Clean Up day, further delineating the motive behind it.

Featuring several real-world ocean locations to explore, including the Galapagos, the Caribbean island, Cozumel, and the Arctic Ocean, the Great Ocean VR allows users to operate a high-tech ROV on a journey through the ocean. Along with encountering various forms of underwater life, the experience also enables users to perform tasks involving cleaning of the ocean floor with the ROV, fixing leakages in oil containers, and several other tasks highlighting the importance of protecting our oceans.

Why do I like it?

Living on an incredible yet unfamiliar blue planet, exploration becomes the key to understanding the world around us. What’s more, is understanding the beauty of the life it nurtures and how it must be preserved. This VR application not only educates users about underwater life but sheds light on how the oceans can and must be protected.

Why is it engaging?

The game provides an immersive all-around experience. More than just reading or watching videos about creatures in the ocean, being able to experience it and swim with them is much more exciting. It leaves the users curious to learn more about the ocean and how to preserve it. Navigating through the ocean is quite intuitive. The gameplay mechanics including driving and managing robotic arms, switching animations are smooth and visually stimulating.

Additionally, there are various dive modes to choose from. One can choose to perform cleanup tasks, repair work, or just exploration depending on the user’s preferences. Additional levels and content as the game move towards a full release.

Standout features

  • Good pace: It can be daunting to move at a high pace in this immersive underwater environment, but this game does not put too much pressure on the user.
  • Clean user interface (UI): The user interface is not obtrusive and clearly provides users with the necessary information needed at different points through the journey. Displaying plenty of navigational information, and ease of switching between task/progress and exploration screens, the design is intuitive to use.
  • Sound: The calming tunes enhance the experience, allowing the user to simultaneously feel like serenity and vast expanse of the ocean.
    Missions: The submersible has three arms – a grabber, a welder, and a scanner – that one can use to complete different tasks. Additionally, the scanner can be used to record points of interest and marine life. These points of interest are tracked and available to rediscover on the HUD. Each scannable object has a short educational snippet explaining its role in the biome.

Possible Improvements

  • Characters and Animation: The sea creatures do not look realistic which could be improved by more detailed 3D models. The knowledge base as well is limited and adding more sea creatures to the set of visible creatures would enhance the user experience. Additionally, the movement of the sea creatures appears staggered and could be made more life-like.
  • Limited interactivity: All the tasks have the same controls, hence they do not feel varied. In the real world, the various missions would have different ways to rectify the problem and that could be implemented in the game. Missions could also be made more interesting by adding additional tasks.
  • Control: Turning causes the ROV to roll which could be rectified with better calibration of the controller.
  • Detailed landscape: Having a more detailed landscape of the coral reefs and all objects in the scene would further immerse the user in the experience. 


The Great Ocean VR experience faithfully serves its goal which was to educate people about the vast expanse of the ocean and lay emphasis on its protection. However, the Great Ocean VR has a long way ahead to make the experience more realistic while simultaneously expanding its knowledge and location base. 


[1] The Great Ocean on SideQuest, https://sidequestvr.com/app/10767/the-great-ocean
[2] The Great Ocean VR – Review, https://www.nookgaming.com/the-great-ocean-vr-review/
[3] Explore The Depths In The Great Ocean VR For Quest 2, https://vrscout.com/news/explore-the-depths-in-the-great-ocean-vr-for-quest-2/

Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series

Vader Immortal Trailer


Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series is a three-part VR experience developed by ILMxLAB and published by Disney Interactive Studios. The game was a finalist for an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media in 2019. It was also awarded the 2020 Game Developers Choice Award for Best VR/AR Game and the 2020 Producers Guild of America Award for Innovation.

Why is it engaging?

Vader Immortal is an immersive experience for any Star Wars fan and anyone wanting to try a VR experience for the first time that makes your Jedi fantasies come true. You will be put into a story where you get to take control of the action during the key moments of the story such as engaging in lightsaber duels and using the power of the Force against the stormtroopers and even facing off against Darth Vader himself.

Features well done


Star Wars games rarely fail to impress us visually and this is especially true with Vader Immortal Series. This AAA narrative based adventure VR experience makes good use of the VR strengths while avoiding its shortcomings. For example, the environments are more conservative in size which allows the developers to focus on the resources they have in higher detailed textures, character animations and more sophisticated lighting which results in game worlds that are true to the Star Wars universe.


Like the visuals, there is not a Star Wars game that sounded bad and with access to the Lucasfilm sound vault, Vader Immortal sound effects are no exception. From the scream of a TIE Fighter overhead or the hum of a lightsaber, all the sounds in this experience is in 3D audio. This ensures players feel fully immersed into the experience in the Star Wars universe.


The gameplay’s goal is accessibility and mainstream appeal by keeping the game mechanics straightforward, competent and intuitive. Combat wise, Vader Immortal teaches the player a few abilities across the three-episode story arc with lightsaber combat being introduced in episode 1, force grabbing and throwing in episode 2 and adding in some blaster gunplay in episode 3. Towards the climax of the series, players can use a combination of the abilities learnt throughout the experience to duel with Vader himself. The best part about the combat is that players have the ultimate control to the lightsaber such as when to utilise it and turning it on and off at will. These combat mechanics brings about more options as to how players take on waves of stormtroopers and other random minions. While the gameplay may often feel simple, the game does succeeds in making you feel like a powerful Jedi towards the end of the series.

Areas for improvement

There are some texture pop-ins and jagged edges in large 3D models which could be due to technological limitations and optimisation concerns. Despite the shortcoming, the environment still does look impressive. The main problem could be that the paint-by-numbers and simplistic gameplay offers little replay value. This only end-game content that players have are the three training dojos at the end of each episode with various degrees of difficulty. However, completing them only offers some cosmetic unlocks such as different lightsaber designs seen in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Since Vader Immortal is marketed to be more of a VR experience then being an actual game, I think it is justified that there is not much replayability and that the three training dojos are a bonus for players who bought the game to continue to satisfy their Jedi fantasy at the end of the series.

Vader Immortal’s Training Dojo Gameplay


Despite being a short experience, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series provides the most immersive and authentic Jedi experience that every Star Wars fan would love to experience due to its impressive visuals and immersive gameplay. Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series is an excellent example of what current VR technology can offer and a proof of concept that current-generation hardware is capable of producing amazing VR visuals with enough resources.


  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxolkxNzFAY
  • https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Vader_Immortal:_A_Star_Wars_VR_Series
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g79dnHagRWY
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM7ABQnJ5uU
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9pb3E_ysxQ