Lonely Mountain VR experience

… to recover the Arkenstone from Smaug at the Lonely Mountain…


Interaction Design
Unity3D Develop


Experimental Television Lab
03/2017 - 05/2017


VR Development
Usability Testing


HTC Vive


Lonely Mountain is a virtual reality adaptation of the movie The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. In this VR experience, the Lonely Mountain has fallen into the claws of Smaug the Terrible. You will take the role of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Your mission is to find and recover the Arkenstone, and unite the dwarf realms once more under the same banner to save the Lonely Mountain. In the scenario the interactor will try to reach the treasure room and pick up a tool to grab the Arkenstone from Smaug without waking him up.

Design Direction


- How diegetic elements can be used to show the current state of an NPC.

- How can hazardous elements be used to encourage the interactor to take specific actions?

- How can an NPCs be used to draw attention to important objects and deliver instructions natural in the scene?


Get in the elevator

A group of three dwarfs will ask the interactor to recover the Arkenstone located in the treasure room.

Descend into the giant hall

Use the handle to control the lift, and go down the giant hall. Once at the floor level, the treasure room will be revealed and the search for the Arkenstone will start.

Select the hookshot

A chasm prevents the interactor to recover the Arkenstone. The interactor must choose one of several tools to grab the Arkenstone and bring it to the other side.

Recover the Arkenstone

The interactor uses the hookshot to recover the Arkenstone. The dragon wakes up and starts spitting fire all over the hall. The interactor must scape using the lift.

Climb up to safety

Rocks will start falling from the roof. The interactor must use the lift to go back to the room where dwarfs will be waiting to flee the mountain.


The map shows a basic layout of the treasure room and the dragon.

Design decisions

Dragon sound and fire effect

The smoke flowing from the dragon’s nostrils changes color and quantity depending on the state of the dragon (NPC behavior). The sounds made by the dragon change depending on its level of alert (Sound effect).


In order to create an immersive experience, we designed the lift to allow interactors to climb up and down in the virtual space with feet keeping static, matching the real world postures.

Hookshot grab gesture

The hookshot we designed has an trigger on the bottom to shoot the hook, which is consist with the button on HTC Vive handles. Interactors would intuitively learn how to use the hookshot.

Presentation & Evaluations

We presented our work at the Georgia Tech GVU Research Showcase, and invited guests, researchers, classmates, and reputable professor to test our VR experience. They loved the interactive scene, and they provided us many constructive feedbacks.


◦ Arkenstone is too large, so it is hard to place it on the lift and bring it back to the dwarves.

◦ Adding vibration to hookshot will be interesting. Now the action of shooting the claw feels a bit fake because of the constant speed of hook flying.

◦ Adding visual effect on the controller of the lift and the hookshot telling people it is interactable.

◦ Controller itself is not natural to use, especially the grasping gesture.

Future changes under consideration

According to feedbacks from the Demo presentation, we decided to refine the experience in the folllowing points:

◦ Create more interactions with the dwarves.

◦ Make control of objects clearer to the user by making the dwarves show the players how to use it

◦ Change interaction gestures: use button on the top to grab and trigger to shoot the hook.