Paint Arena is the first ever Windows Mixed Reality app for people from all ages and from all over the world to paint in 3D in a shared social experience with voice chat, on both HoloLens and Immersive headsets. Teleport around, explore the world, have a chat, and do a silly dance together. Once you are ready, join into the arena for a casual game. Simply guess what someone else is drawing or draw something for others to guess. Store Link: https://www.microsoft.com/store/apps/9NGWMQ0GVNP9
Many virtual reality games today are designed to enhance graphic intensity, but increasingly isolate the players. We believe Windows Mixed Reality can be much more than that. We decided to design a casual game that people from all ages can play, share, and socialize in mixed reality. We were inspired by a classic interactive puzzle game for family and friends and we were amazed by the potential of the MR motion controllers, so Paint Arena was born. Many thanks to Mixed Reality Academy for the paint brush example.
We faced many challenges with this contest. As HoloLens developers, first we had to adapt our thinking when developing for the immersive mixed reality environment, often referred to as “virtual reality” or “VR”. For example, the input mechanisms of the motion controllers were very capable, but quite different from hand gestures for HoloLens. We couldn’t always rely on voice commands because different PCs could behave differently. Immersive headsets could run on PCs with high-power graphic cards, so the virtual environment size and the visual quality could go beyond the limits of the current HoloLens hardware.
Nonetheless, we loved HoloLens, and we couldn’t leave it behind! We envisioned a true mix of device families for this app. Because Windows Mixed Reality was quite new, it took a lot of trial and error to find the best, stable release versions of Windows, Visual Studio, Unity, and MRToolKit that would work for both HoloLens and Immersive headsets. Thanks to the helpful HoloDevelopers slack channels and the MixedRealityToolKit github, we were able to find a workable solution. We adapted the paint brush to HoloLens hand gestures. It’s not as accurate as the motion controllers, but 3D finger painting in mid air is still pretty cool. As we added new features, we faced additional incompatibilities, but after having been part of this creative community for the past few years, we have faith that there would always be a solution for any problem.
In order to deliver a compelling experience, we knew from the start that a pleasant shared mixed reality presence was key, so we put less focus on graphics quality and more focus on user experience and social cohesion. This meant a lot of back-and-forth debating ideas, researching new methods, and testing new solutions among our developers. Thanks to this close collaboration, we created this arena where people from all ages and all over the world can collaborate in a painting a piece of art.
This is a social app, and it came with social responsibilities. As proud parents, we understood the importance of keeping this shared virtual space free from abuse. We deliberately used a very generic robot as the avatar for everyone, to eliminate potential harassment or discrimination due to race, gender, etc. In our latest release, we incorporated a basic moderator functions, and we encourage anyone interested in volunteering to be a moderator to register here.
Thank you all for your support, and we hope you will enjoy this app. Since this is still new to us, we are open to suggestions on how to keep this beautiful arena safe for kids. In addition, if you notice any bug with this app, please feel free to contact us here.