Experimenting with New Navigation Paradigms

January 15, 2014

By Nicole Yankelovich

In my work with clients, one common concern is how long it will take users to learn to use Open Wonderland. Moving the avatar around a space is typically one of the clients’ biggest concerns. To address this issue, my company, WonderBuilders, has been thinking about different mechanisms for avatar navigation. One strategy we have implemented for customer projects is an enhanced Best View feature that allows users to focus in on objects by clicking on them.

In this way, users navigate by moving only their avatar camera, and not the avatar. In some scenarios, this approach works well. There is, however, at least one serious drawback. If the avatar does not actually move and the object they are focusing in on is far away, they will not be able to hear audio in the vicinity of the object they are looking at.

To address this issue, we recently added a new capability called “Navigate To.” Now, when the user clicks on an object, their avatar will move to a location near that object that the world builder has specified.

Navigate To can be used in conjunction with Best View or on its own.

As we have added these capabilities, we also had to address the issue of which capabilities take precedence when more than one is applied to an object. For now we have hard-coded an ordering. Navigate To always comes first, followed by Best View, which is followed by Audio, and so forth. Eventually it will probably be necessary to create an interactive ordering tool so that the world builder can specify the order they desire.


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