From idea to prototype

Designing our own Virtual Reality Shooter

To test the limits of our capabilities we decided to create a prototype of our own game idea between projects – The result is a fast paced, arcade-like, virtual reality Shooter. 

In the fall of 2018, we began work on our own game, codenamed Zombieshooter. It began as a fun excercise to keep up with and learn some new technologies within Virtual Reality, Unity and our pipeline for future projects. We made the base setup for the game and tested it out within a couple of hours, using props from the unity store, and greybox models. The concept worked! Our idea was, that the player was trapped in a mining station on a distant planet in the future. By defending the elevator platform from the oncoming horde, the player would get closer to his escape one level at a time.


We had a working prototype relatively quick, by utilizing Unity Store Assets and greybox models as placeholders, and was able to test the game out. We wanted to put emphasis on the panicky feeling of being trapped in a mining station full of zombies. To do this we decided to create an elevator that worked as the boundaries for the VR player area. When the player had cleared one level, the elevator would move up to the next. By doing this we also had a way to progressively increase difficulty, and give the player a feeling of progress. 

When we tried it, we were scared out of our minds. The adrenaline rush was crazy, being put into the situation we all have imagined: Defending yourself from an oncoming horde of zombies! Our concept worked and our framework was in place. The next step was to really flesh out the world, and create an even more depressing and moody environment, and our own game assets. 


Our prototype of course felt shallow, when looking at the visuals and environment. So our main objective was to create an immersive and believable environment, that would help in making the player get that feeling of anxiety and panic. We decided to keep the design believable and practical, to keep players immersed, but still futuristic enough to distance it from today’s technology level. 

We figured out, that creating four entry points to the platform, but allowing zombies to approach the platform from multiple different angles, created  a sense of being surrounded and cornered. This helped in getting towards our goal, and could in the same turn allow us to balance the game fairly easily, by removing or adding line of sight to different approach routes of the zombies. 

The zombies would be spot-able from a long distance, if the player utilized the VR-boundaries correctly and oriented himself calmly. Some zombies would come from the same angle, but take different entry points onto the platform to keep. 


By continually testing and balancing, we have managed to create a pretty believable and immersive game. But it was still barebones, and it felt kind of empty, when the player was not cracking zombie skulls. By adding dynamic lighting, fog and a soundtrack, we created an atmosphere that instills a sense of dread in the player between levels. 

We also determined that the players needed a goal to strive for instead of just imagining escape from the mining facility. So we decided to program a score-keeping system, that was displayed on a screen on the elevator platform. This way we leaned into the arcade style game, while still making the experience immersive and rememberable. 

We saw this an opportunity to both make he game interesting for party play, but also for  competitive play. We then tweaked the game to become endless at the last level, so players could gain an incredibly high score, if they are good enough at it. 


As of now, we are pretty satisfied with how far we have developed this game. We produced this game whenever we had time to spare, both before and after regular office hours. We showcased the game at ESM LAN in Skals the 24th of March 2019.

We would still call our game a “polished prototype,” but we have definitely laid the groundwork for developing this into a full fledged game long term. 

Some of the features we want to include in a future version of the Zombieshooter is: 
– Multiple Weapons
– Multiple zombies and enemies
– More level variety
– Multiplayer support

And who knows, perhaps you will find this game on Steam sometime in the near future.

Jannick Hynding Lund
Jannick Hynding Lund

Producer and game designer - Partner at Vizlab Studios

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