The Rookie was an industrial project in the second term of the Master of Digital Media Program. Our mission is to expand the boundaries of VR by creating a public narrative experience in a physically immersive environment. The project was also a chance for us to learn about and experiment with some new devices, such as HTC Vive, Kinect, Leap Motion, and Arduino, as well as how to integrate them into VR Unity.
The goal of the project was to create a public VR experience that combines motion simulation and normal walking. As it was a new topic in VR, I was in charge of Physical props design and art assets creating and managing, to combine the virtual and physical experience.
Our team followed the Agile Development process, in which we rapidly experimented, prototyped, tested and iterated.
Aside from being a 3D artist, my role in the art and design process was also managing the art assets and the production of the 3d virtual environment and physical setups, in order to ensure that the alignment with developer side and prop construction side could run smoothly and rapidly as we planned.
Different to most of the current VR games, we didn't use the Vive Controllers to control the movement. Instead, we embedded a racing wheel and a joystick into the experience to give the users an immersion of motion simulation.The user is controlling the spaceship by two levers.
Additionally, after some tests, we also found out that motion sickness was another big problem we had to solve in VR motion simulation. We minimized the motion sickness through gradual acceleration, limited rotations of movement, a view of the horizon, and limiting the user’s view with a vignette effect as well as a reduced view through the vehicle’s window of their moving environment.
In the walking part of The Rookie, we needed to have the players be able to interact with the physical objects. We researched and came up with some solutions using the Vive trackers to match the physical interactable objects with its virtual 3D model. However, due to the low budget of the prototyping phase, we decided to attach the existing Vive controllers with the objects to make them trackable by the HTC Vive Lighthouses.
Finally, the most difficult technical challenge we coped with was the calibration of the Vive controllers. Since the experience is the combination of the virtual and physical world, we needed to have the virtual objects match perfectly with the physical sets we built. However, the Vive controllers don't provide the accurate and stable tracking position, which means that everytime the Vive system is reset, the controllers appear in a different position than it was before. We tackled this problem by writing a script in Unity that fixes the initial position of the Vive controllers in the virtual world, and caches it everytime the system is reset.
Softwares: Unity5, Cinema4d, Rhinoceros, Adobe Photoshops, Adobe illustrator, After Effects
Project Manager: Parmida Zarrinkamar
Programmer: Hoa Nguyen, Robyn Choi, Frederik Nielsen
Prop constructor: Mateo Cano
Artist: Jimmz Zhang
Unity3d, Cinema4D, Substance Designer, Rhinoceros, 3D printers, Autodesk Recap 360.
Due to the NDA with the clients, the details and the source code of the project cannot be published.