The Company

castAR (formerly Technical Illusions) was a Palo Alto-based technology startup company founded in March 2013 by Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson. Its first product, was to be the castAR, a pair of augmented reality and virtual reality glasses. castAR was a founding member of the nonprofit Immersive Technology Alliance.

The Platform 

castAR glasses combine elements of augmented reality and virtual reality. After winning Educator's and Editor's Choice ribbons at the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire, the castAR project was successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter. castAR surpassed its funding goal two days after the project went live and raised over $1 million on a $400,000 goal. castAR creates hologram-like images unique to each user by projecting an image into the user's surroundings using a technology that the castAR calls "Projected Reality". The image bounces off a retro-reflective surface back to the wearer's eyes. castAR can also be used for virtual reality purposes, using its VR clip-on.

The Goals

  • Showcase the features of the castAR hardware

  • Create a fun multiplayer AR Vehicle combat title that included multiple vehicles, weapons, and hazards.

  • Create fluid app architecture to give users the best experience while navigating through a new AR space

The Project

Step 01: Research and Planning

The short development timeline we were given did not allow very much time for research and discovery. This forced the team to jump right into prototyping. Most of our team consisted of game vets who had previously worked on car combat titles so finding game ideas for competitive analysis was not that difficult. We wanted to not only bring great game mechanics from older titles but we also wanted to see what newer games were doing that attracted players.

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Step 02: Prototyping and Architecture

The team had a difficult time prototyping in the beginning. The hardware was still being iterated on and we did not have a dedicated unit in our office in order to test builds. We basically were shooting in the dark. So I decided to focus on the core game mechanics and work out the issues with the hardware once we had a better idea of what we were dealing with.


OffRoad Elimination

  • Engine: Unity

  • Role: Designer

  • Responsibilities:

    • Thoughtfully designed game systems, including:

      • Produced clear and thorough design documentation

      • A well oiled system design that demoed the features of the CastAR hardware

      • Created a simple User Experience that allow intuitive navigation throughout a new AR platform

      • A vehicle “garage” with 13 different cars and unique skins

      • An XP based leveling system with lootbox rewards

      • A balanced economy that drives players to collect all 13 vehicle and their cosmetics

      • Tuned AI behaviors to balance difficulty in both Race and Battle modes

      • Designed unique Hazards and Level Experiences

      • Organized design documentation into agile tasks for programmers/artist

      • Worked closely with multiple disciplines to bring project from conception to completion