Introducing…. xREZ’s Elemental Mayhem

The Magic Leap Winter DevJam made for an awesome end to the Fall 2019 semester for the lab! Magic Leap called for teams of developers to demonstrate the mixed reality device’s hand tracking capability. Spatial computing is a large part of what we research here at xREZ, so getting creative with the Magic Leap hand tracking engaged the whole team in creating our concept Elemental Mayhem.

Nathaniel Plays Elemental Mayhem from xREZ Art + Science Lab on Vimeo.

The concept background story goes like this: 

You are a mighty elemental warrior… in training. 

The Order of Elementals has tasked you with one final quest before your training is complete. You have been sent to a region where the elements are running wild, putting thousands of innocent lives at risk. You must use your powers to bring peace and order back to the region. Everything you’ve ever done has led up to this moment and you can not fail. If the elements can not be balanced, the future you’ve always dreamed of will be cut short…


Our concept challenges users to choose the right hand pose as quickly as possible to deflect or eliminate incoming elemental enemies. We use fluid transitions between multiple hand poses as part of a rapid interaction cycle to enhance immersion (and fun!). This increased involvement, combined with the Magic Leap’s recognition speed creates a unique MR experience that decreases the separation between reality and mixed-reality and, hopefully, increases user confidence in hand pose recognition.

Shock and Water Over Ian

Elementals (fire, water, earth, air, and lightning) spawn continuously and move towards the user. Different hand poses fire different elements. Use of the counteracting projectile eliminates the elemental, whereas the use of an incorrect projectile spawns additional elementals. 

Screen Shot 2020-01-10 at 3.30.36 PM

Table: Elementals health decreases with counteracting element projectiles, and increases with synergistic element projectiles. 

Players can pause the experience and change the interaction mode. Dual handed poses enable the user to physically push elementals away from the user location or to change interaction mode and pause the experience. In pause mode the single finger hand pose enables users to touch an object and reveal content within it, and alternatively, it enables the user to continue or exit the experience. Combined, these dynamics induce user movement in the physical and virtual space and fluid transitions between multiple hand poses, resulting in non-stop action and enhanced immersion. 


Our work included development in Unity and Maya, sound, and graphical 2D and 3D assets. Ian and Nathaniel focused on developing code and 3D assets in Unity and Maya. In the process, Ian became our Unity guru while Nathaniel mastered Maya to create our characters, animations and glyphs. Jared and Chris jumped in working on sounds for the animations and transitions. Luke provided valuable feedback on game dynamics. Claire, Jess and Kathryn created graphics for the world, including menus, icons, and more. The diversity and gender balance of our team reflects the inclusive environment that we cultivate at xREZ. The entire team worked to bring a cohesive aesthetic design together in creating the immersive experience. And everyone in the lab was part of creating the story behind the concept to give users a sense of mission and purpose while playing Elemental Mayhem.


At the start of this semester, we had a mostly new group of lab mates on our team. This project brought us all together in a fun way and created a lasting bond for all of us as a team. The enjoyment we had developing this concept and working through different obstacles as a team has made us more excited about future projects.

xREZ Art + Science Lab

Imagine. Discover. Create.
xREZ Art+Science lab forges productive paths that harness the unique creative forces found only at the intersection of the arts, sciences and humanities to open new portals of imagination, knowledge and communication.Our goal: alter the landscape of human endeavor to create transformative impact on our world and our future.

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