Romp through the Ranges
A geolocated narrative that invites players to explore ten locations in the Macedon Ranges. Using augmented reality, they are met by characters who tell them about the interconnected nature of the area and can collect these characters as artefacts. This places them in the running for a free pass to Hanging Rock or free tour of Edgar’s Mission Farm Sanctuary.
Romp through the Ranges is an exploration of ten key locations within the Macedon Ranges. The game highlights the quirky nature of the Ranges – such as the mystery of Hanging Rock or the Black Panther. This is represented also by the character’s design and descriptions. Experience the magic and mystery of the Macedon Ranges! It relies on augmented reality (AR) to immerse the user in each location, with the help of a tour guide character.
Tools / Methods
Figma, Procreate, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects
User research, paper prototypes, low and high fidelity prototypes, field testing
UX/UI designer, graphic designer.
August to October 2022.
After the global pandemic that we all lived through the tourism sector took a massive hit. This was especially so in parts of regional Victoria. One of these areas is the Macedon Ranges, located between Bendigo and Melbourne. To re-establish tourism through the area a geolocation-based application was required. Ten locations within a 25km radius needed to be chosen which would help bring potential visitors and locals back to these locations.
To improve the area’s popularity, strengthen tourism, and increase awareness and loyalty to the destinations I sought to create an app based around augmented reality. It was also necessary to highlight the cultural and historical significance of the Ranges, which was achieved by using representative characters at each location who act as tour guides.
Through gamification, these characters can be collected and place the player in the running for free tours and passes. This entices the player to visit all ten locations, and increases tourism and brand awareness for the Macedon Ranges.
Name and identity
The name had to reflect the timelessness of the Ranges, as well as its interconnectivity. Initial thoughts around “Motley Macedon” or “Ragtag Ranges”, which highlighted the eccentricity of the local area, were found too negative by users. I then played upon the idea of an adventure and found synonyms for this term, deciding finally on “Romp through the Ranges”, with the subtitle “An Interconnected Adventure”.
To ‘romp’ is to “(especially of a child or animal) play roughly and energetically”, and the Ranges refers to the Macedon Ranges. Naturally, the world around us is interconnected, and this will reflect in the application’s narrative.
Narrative / user flow
This was the first flowchart which outlined gameplay. It remained fairly close to the flow in the final prototype.
Following user feedback, changes such as video playback and sharing footage to social media were included earlier and with freedom for the player to do this in their own time.
Low fidelity prototypes
Sketches / paper prototypes
These designs immediately followed the paper prototypes and sketches above.
Pictured are a few frames from the first round of prototyping.
Plenty of user feedback about their confusion in using the prototype.
It did not follow conventions, and unfortunately sought to “reinvent the wheel”. Many amendments were made in the final prototypes below.
A word about its functionality:
As gameplay relies on AR, the prototype is not yet able to provide a fully representative experience for the player. The finished application will also be offered as a non-linear exploration of the Macedon Ranges, where users can navigate to locations of their own accord. However, it is presently designed in a linear fashion – with Edgar’s Mission as the starting point through to Camel’s Hump in Mount Macedon.
Throughout the process, users provided helpful suggestions as to who or what each character should be. The sequence here follows the flow in the prototype setup.
As the mobile application was not focussing so much on graphic design but UX, I primarily utilised the static images of the characters to communicate the idea of AR. However, to help users visualise what the simulated environment would truly look like, I created two GIFs for the first two location prototype screens.
Pictured are Edgar Alan Pig from Edgar’s Mission, and a Diprotodon (a class of megafauna) from the Lancefield Swamp.
It was worthwhile sharing ideas with not only the target audience but fellow designers who provided very useful feedback and suggestions throughout the project. I learnt of the “cutting edge” technologies that could be implemented in the application in future. This made the design process feel more “real” and the prospect of a tangible product that I will deliver to stakeholders in future.
While there were some learning curves with the new prototyping tool, Figma operates quite intuitively and created the basis for accessible design. However, the software was not without its faults. During user testing, the tool was such that I could not rotate the screen horizontally. As the majority of screens are in landscape mode, this is an important feature that changed the user experience greatly. All content required being created to be viewed horizontally, so that I could easily edit and make necessary refinements, prior to the final product being tested, rotate the screen back to portrait mode.
Regarding character design: had time permitted I would have included animation for each character. Currently, only the first two guides are saved as GIFs, the others are PNGs. As I seek to pitch this to the Macedon Ranges Shire Council as a legitimate geolocation-based app they can use for tourism, the resulting characters will have motion applied. I look forward to this application one day being available on the market and helping re-establish regional Victoria’s tourism sector.
Copyright Tara Sleeman 2022