Seminar: Virtual Reality Game Development using a Rock Climbing Treadmill

Type Seminar (7 CP)
Time Mondays, 12am to 2pm

18 Apr 2022 

25 Apr 2022

Location Virtual / DFKI
Language English
Contact Mail Us

** The information on this page is subject to change. **

** Kickoff moved by one week because of Easter **

** Seminar will be held in hybrid form! **

The Kickoff will be fully virtual! CLICK HERE


Current commodity Virtual Reality (VR) hardware allows for free, even wireless roaming, however, it is still confined by a finite tracking space. To overcome this issue, past research has introduced different methods for vertical locomotion, ranging from walking on a treadmill to interaction paradigms such as teleportation. Recently, researchers have integrated rock climbing on a physical wall into VR experiences. The space available is naturally confined by the dimensions of the wall. Building upon this, we implemented a VR system for vertical locomotion on a rock climbing treadmill.

In this seminar, students will have the opportunity to use this platform as a virtual reality rock climbing exergame environment. The aim of the seminar is to develop exergames using this platform in small groups of students. This entails a conceptualization phase of a game that should be aligned to one of the topics outlined below. After initial feedback, the games should be developed. For this, we provide physical access to the climbing wall itself and VR hardware that can be used on DFKI premises. A simulator will be made available for remote work. 



The seminar will be offered by the Chair for Media Informatics. If you have any questions, please direct them to (

  • Maximilian Altmeyer
  • Dr. Florian Daiber
  • Donald Degraen
  • Felix Kosmalla

Learning Goals

  • Obtain a deeper understanding of exergaming
  • Strengthen VR development skills including the physical world
  • Learn how to derive implications for a game concept based on scientific work



To successfully pass the seminar and produce a fun and engaging exergame, you should fulfill the following requirements:

  • Strong background in Unity 3D development
  • Willingness to think out of the box and produce own ideas
  • Your own laptop or workstation that is capable of running Unity 3D - there will be a workstation for testing your implementation at the DFKI. It cannot be used for regular development work. 
  • Optional, but helpful:
    • experience in VR development
    • 3D modeling skills
    • has visited a climbing gym at least once


Each game concept should target one of the themes outlined below:

    1. Haptic Feedback

      By using the climbing treadmill in virtual reality, users can physically grab the holds they see. This haptic feedback can make the experience more enjoyable and can make users feel like they are actually climbing in the world shown in VR. In this concept, the idea is to explore different methods of haptic feedback to enrich the experience or to provide more features to the user. Examples include adding vibrational feedback to the back of the hands or feet to instruct the user during climbing, adding visual redirection methods to make the user think they are climbing higher, or even by simulating weather conditions by using wind, heat, cold, or water.

    2. VR Bystanders

      Design a multi-player game that enables co-located play and cooperation in VR or XR, i.e. include non-climbing players as opponents or to solve a common task.

    3. Exergames

      Design and implement a climbing game that motivates players to be physically active. The main focus should be enjoyment, i.e. the game should be fun to play and immerse players in the game world. 

    4. Perceptual Illusions

      The climbing treadmill used is capable of tilting itself within -45° to 15°. This allows simulating an overhang or slab climbing, increasing or decreasing the difficulty of the climb. This feature should be used in combination with visual or auditory effects to induce perceptual illusions, e.g. a falling rock face, feeling lighter because of a positive incline of the wall but visual overhang, etc..



Please see the table below for a quick overview of dates and content.

Introduction and Conceptualization

To give you an overview of the topic of exergaming and provide you with a kickstart for your project, you will be conducting a literature review for the topic you will be assigned to. This means that each of the team members will be assigned a paper that needs to be read, understood, and integrated into a joint presentation. These papers should inform the design and concept of your rock climbing exergame. In the presentation you will give, these adaptions should be made clear. After the presentation, you will receive feedback from us and the audience. We ask you to integrate this feedback into the final concept document.

Final Concept Document

Based on the feedback we ask you to finalize the concept document. This document should describe the idea and implementation plan for your exergame. It should also contain must-haves, may-haves, and must-not-haves and milestones that you plan to reach. These will be used to grade your final project. We will work with you to define the milestones so that a fair grading between groups is ensured.

Progress Presentations

During the seminar, we ask you to give really short presentations (3 min) on your current progress. These presentations are given weekly.

Mid-Term Presentations

After 8 weeks you will give mid-term presentations in which you will showcase your "Minimum Viable Prototype" (MVP). Requirements for this MVP are that it should showcase your main game mechanic and it must be possible for a user to climb and interact with the environment as described in your concept. This presentation should also include a plan for the final 6 weeks, i.e. which features will be implemented by the end of the seminar. 

Final Presentations

Depending on the Covid situation, we would like to have the final presentations in presence so everyone can try out the games by themselves. If this is not possible, we will require oral presentations and a video demo.

Deliverables and Grading

During the seminar, we ask you to submit a number of deliverables in the form of presentations, written documents, and the final submission of documented source code. Please have a look in the table with the dates for more details. As you can see, after the 5th week we will meet regularly and you will present the progress you made in the last week. This should motivate and help you to keep on track and also gives you quick, regular feedback. We kept the presentations very short on purpose so that these meetings should be done within an hour. How you present your progress is up to you, a simple screencast or phone video suffices. 

Some deliverables will be graded (see table below for details). The grading scheme is TBD but will be made available before the start of the seminar.

Dates and Time

During the semester we will have mandatory meetings - for dates with an ungraded deliverable you will have one "hall pass", i.e. you can miss it, no questions asked. Participation in the kickoff is mandatory. For all other dates, we require a sick note. While we will not meet every week, the timeslot will always be Monday 12am to 2pm. This means that you should not plan another lecture or seminar in this timeslot. Please see the table below for the planned schedule:


DateTopicDeliverablesSlides, Link, etc.
25 Apr 2022 Kickoff    Meeting Link, Slides
2 May 2022 - no meeting - Work on literature review and game concept    
9 May 2022 Presentation of literature review and concept oral Presentation,  Slides as PDF, Concept in Written Form (template will be provided) - graded  Meeting Link
16 May 2022 - no meeting - Submit final concept as PDF and start implementation  A final written concept as PDF - graded  
16 May 2022 - no meeting - Work on your implementation    
23 May 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted  Meeting Link
30 May 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
6 Jun 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
13 Jun 2022 Mid Term Presentation of MVP Oral presentation of MVP, Video required, also submitted - graded   Meeting Link
20 Jun 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
27 Jun 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
4 Jul 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
11 Jul 2022 3 min progress presentation Presentation in form of slides or video, also submitted   Meeting Link
18 Jul 2022 Final Presentation  Oral presentations and, if the corona situation allows it live demos - graded  


Physical presence, Covid Restrictions and 2G+

By the time of writing this, entrance to the DFKI for guests (i.e. students participating in a seminar) do need to be fully vaccinated and tested or fully vaccinated and boostered. We will provide hygienic measures to provide a safe working environment when visiting DFKI. We recommend that at least one team member works on the physical climbing wall on a regular basis. However, we are prepared to conduct the seminar completely virtual if necessary, using the simulator provided.



Please register for the seminar here.

We also ask you to write a short paragraph of an initial game idea that you could imagine implementing using the platform.