Microsoft Kinect + CAVE Virtual Reality Game: 'Home'
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
This was a game created in a two-week sprint at the Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center for the 'Building Virtual Worlds' course. The softwares used to create the game was Unity and Maya for the Microsoft Kinect and CAVE platforms. Comprised of a five person team, I served as the producer, technical artist, 3D artist & animator, and 2D artist.
Focusing on a beautiful and immersive sound experience, the guest utilizes the Kinect to guide their way through their precious forest home (which was attacked by evil amphibians and eight legged monsters), to lead their firefly colony to the safe sanctuary. The game is held with the CAVE platform which provides unique feedback at certain intervals of the game.
PLATFORM: Microsoft Kinect, CAVE
MY ROLE: Producer, Technical Artist, 3D Artist & Animator, 2D Artist
TEAM: Two Artists, Two Programmers, 1 Sound Designer
CLIENT: Carnegie Mellon University, Building Virtual Worlds Course (Fall 2017)
VIDEO OF OUR GAME & KINECT / CAVE PLAYER EXPERIENCE:
SCREENSHOTS OF SOME OF MY WORK:
VIDEO DEMO OF SOME OF MY WORK IN PROGRESS:
As the producer, I had to make sure consistently stay organized by managing our SCRUM board on Trello and communicating to the team on various channels through Slack. I made sure to take diligent notes and delegate tasks to the team based on their skillsets and desired areas of work so we could efficiently reach our deadlines.
As the 2D artist, I designed several of the textures in the game, created the twilight skybox, end credits graphic image, and some of the theming graphic concepts.
As the 3D artist and animator, I worked on the frog animations consisting of idle, jumping, and attack (sticking the tongue out).
As the technical artist, I worked closely with all members of my team to ensure all assets were placed correctly in the game and synced well with sound and programming.
PROBLEMS I FACED AND LESSONS LEARNED:
Creating the frog animations would most likely be the interesting part that I worked on. I needed to create a way for the frog to stick out its tongue for a basic animation. I came up with a way of creating a separate 3D tongue model and I hid this model inside the body of the frog. In the game, when a firefly comes near a frog, the tongue will stick out to attack at that moment, grab the firefly, and then return inside. It gives off the illusion that the tongue is connected to the frog's body. I went with this method because with this being a very quick animation, it was the most efficient course for the team to take. I implemented an FK spline rig on the ridge of the tongue so that it would create a nice flowing animation for the tongue to curl back up.
Another interesting challenge was creating the idle animation for the frog. Frogs in nature are usually quite still while they are "idle" and thus, I wanted to replicate a "frog ribbit" action with the neck of the frog inflating and deflating. To do this, I utilized blend shapes in Maya. However, I quickly noted that this would cause an issues for the programmers in Unity as they needed an exact rig of the frog to stay the same from animation to animation (ex. idle to jumping). Thus, to solve to issue, I extracted the bottom jaw of the frog as a duplicate model and created the blend shapes on this part of the model. Once I had the animations that I liked, I moved this back to the bottom jaw of the frog and parented this model to the main frog so that the new bottom jaw would move with the frog animations. All the programmers would have to do at this point would be to hide the "ribbit-ing" jaw whenever they needed to, to move from animation to animation. This worked quite nicely in the final build.
Overall, this project was a great learning experience and I gained a lot of important skills of teamwork, leadership, communication, and honing on my 3D modeling and technical art skills once again.