Describe the operation of your final project. What does it do and how does it work?
It is a VR game that aims to serve as a tool to raise environmental awareness. Most of environmental games are typically designed to visualize energy saving efforts players make (e.g. MyEarth). However, instead of going for the traditional approach by showing the user what to do, such as recycling trash, unplugging all unused electronics, reduce water usage, etc, we came up with an idea to let the user doing exactly the opposite of what one should do. If someone ever wondered what impact our daily activities have on the environment, this is a game that allow player to virtually experience extreme results.
For example, the player is able to throw objects into the lake in EcoNut to increase the water pollution level in the game, or turn on every electronics in the house to overload the power plant. As the level of destruction increases, there are different visual and aural effects triggered. The main goal of the game is to reach 100% destruction level for all three indicators, which are water pollution level, forest destruction level, and power plant capacity. In the end of the five minute gameplay time, the user will be given a virtual medal as an reward and indicator of how “nutty” he or she is.
Describe each team-member’s role as well as contributions to the project.
Ike: I did sound design for the game. I created audio sources, which included the sound effects and manipulating the audio files in a DAW to obtain the more prefered and ideal SFX for the game. I also adjusted the levels and position of each audio source in both the physical and virtual world to aurally reach a more coherent and, in general, a more realistic and exciting virtual reality.
Tyler: I focused mostly on the design of the world, the UI, and the different effects that the world would receive as the player went down their path of destruction. I also created the branding for the game, such as the logo and the trophies. I also helped when dealing with the issues of Unity, especially when interacting with VR hardware. I also created the poster at the end of the semester.
Eric: I created scripts that drove the reticle, interactions with objects, and environment transitions. I also created scripts to deal with object collisions and Gazelle pathing. I also assisted with the design and the direction of the game in towards of storyboarding.
Kang: I majorly focused on assembling the game environment. I purchased the several assets from unity asset store and arranged them in a way that fits our project goal. I built the house with using basic game objects and added more details to design features using Blender. I also added the audio files to the game objects and adjusted the sound effects in the game environment.
As a team, describe what are your feelings about your project? Are you happy, content, frustrated, etc.?
We are quite satisfied with our result! We reached the majority of our goals for the project, and the participants gave us positive feedbacks mostly (or all). It was rewarding to see people get the humor that we were going for and also to get a mostly functional game within the time that we were provided.
What were the largest hurdles you encountered in your project and how did you overcome these obstacles?
We struggled with version control, starting with GitHub and then with Dropbox. With Dropbox, we finally were able to work on the same file without causing as much conflicts as used to but had to constantly worry about the risk of accidentally overlapping/losing each other’s work. We think it’s because Unity is constantly creating temp files and even a slight coordinate change of an object in a scene can create a conflict.
There were some issues with integration to the final project, most of which came from the player controller. It was tough to find/create a PlayerController that worked well with the gamepad, the Oculus, and enabled a gun.
Lastly, we sometimes also had a hard time scheduling a group meeting time. Though everyone’s availability varies, we managed to distribute the workload and work on the project effectively with the meetings we had. Each of us contributed intellectually and knew quite well what our strengths and capabilities are, so that helped a lot in terms of making the progress and working effectively.
How well did your project meet your original project description and goals?
We did switch our direction and how we want our game to be a bit, however, our theme and the main purpose of the project remained pretty much the same since the we first started. In the end, the main goals were reached. Some polish could be made but what was more important is that we had a working game and the purpose of the project was served.
If you had more time, what would you do next on your project?
Ike: I would continue working on the area of sound, which I still have some ideas that I would like to see them come through. Also, I would make finer adjustments in order to make the experience more realistic in general, more dramatic when necessary and the whole 5 minutes of the gameplay more interesting and exciting for the user. The first thing to reach those goals is to add in more unexpected sound effects to make the process of increasing the three damage levels less dull. For example, currently, the sound effect is looping when the power plant damaging level is between 50%~ 75% and 75%~ 100%. What I would do is to add in a few other sounds to make sure when the users are stuck between those percentages, they don’t get annoyed by the sounds or simply get bored.
Tyler: I noted some issues when people were running through the demo, including the volume of some of the sounds, the ability for players to go “underwater”, and the door’s placement. I think that it would be nice to have a way for player’s to be able to see what they’ve already turned on for the electricity bar, as well as having some more immediate instructions to push them towards destroying the world. A visible timer would be helpful in creating some urgency.
Eric: Given more time I would have liked to make every object in the game “EQUIPPABLE” ie something that can be thrown. Further, I would have added more interactions involving the Gazelles. Currently they only move between 2 points and respond when individuals pollute the lake. I would like to add a chase mechanic where the gazelle chase you if they can witness you damaging the forest. Coupled with chasing, I would like to make it possible to shoot objects at the deer to knock them over.
Kang: The windows of the house were not big enough to see the changes of power plant when players are inside of the house. Even if I purposely placed a patio over the lake, it appears to be not big enough to guide someone to throw everything into the lake. I would like to make some modifications in that regard. Compare to the water pollution, it was quite confusing how much more electricity should be turn on As there were no immediate effects that visualize TV, microwave and lights were on. I would put animation(probably for TV, microwave and oven) or some additional sound if I am given more time. Another thing I heard from audience was what does water pollution bar do. As Eric indicated above, adding more interaction involving gazelles would be the answer for this.