Throwing around that $$

This week I played around with Tiltbrush and made some bread and dollar signs. I tried different materials and making them more robust, but I did not like the look of it as much; I think I’d prefer to try a hand at 3D modeling in Blender or C4D for my own look. Playing in Tiltbrush was still fun, though, and is really a magical experience. I’m thinking for this class I want to make a project related to my thesis topic – so an experience related to the failures of capitalism that grow more apparent each day. I’m not sure how that will look in VR though. For my thesis I believe I will make a multiplayer arcade game encouraging cooperation over competition, but VR is a singular experience so I need to find a way to leverage that. It is still far more fun to interact with a world, so I know I want there to be an element there. Both The Rose & I as well as The Invasion were interesting shorts, but being a fly on the wall is not as interesting to me. Passage is a good example of feeling like you have more agency as a player while it is still a very linear story which is interesting. I also looked at Bear71 which is a web VR experience that I experienced on my laptop, and I thought it was amazing. The voice-over gave a clear story while I was able to explore on my own and find out more pieces of the story. Though I experienced it on the web I’d be curious to try it in a headset and see how different that is.

Getting back into Unreal

This week we worked on setting up a scene in Unreal using Actors found in Epic Games demos. I added an Actor that should break like a window and I want to see if I could get it so that throwing a rock using a Vive could in essence smash the window, but I can’t seem to get it to work. Unlike my previous work where I just copied over the Blueprint from the example scene and switched out the mesh, this doesn’t work with the rock that comes as Starter Content. No idea why.

For the second part of the assignment I played The Lab, essentially a series of tech demos. Valve does a great job (which they should, it is their product) and really showcases the value of the Vive. Slingshotting objects, exploring spaces by bending down, changing scale, and of course humor make a strong case for interactive VR. I think a 20-30 minute funny interactive piece would do really well with the Vive, and I could definitely see myself getting lost in the headset for a few hours if there was content to support it. Even though it’s room-scale I find myself teleporting far more than walking, but just the act of standing up and being able to crouch and turn is enough.

Henry and Dear Angelica in VR

For our first week in Worlds on a Wire we had to look at a couple pieces in virtual reality with the Oculus and write some thoughts.

I first watched Dear Angelica which is absolutely beautiful. The whimsical stylized paintings flow from one scene to the next with seamless movements, though I chose the seated option and the fact that there were still objects directly behind me making me crane my head all the way around was pretty uncomfortable. I must admit I’m also much more of a gamer than a movie buff and the entire time I desperately wanted to touch and interact with the scene especially as it would get so close to me. At times it felt like the world was teasing me, seeming as if it were interactive when I was really just a bystander.

Henry, on the other hand, was much more interesting despite its lack of interaction. Perhaps because I did not have to crane my neck as much as it kept most of the action in front of me, allowing me to easily enjoy the story. I also enjoyed the non-verbal storytelling better; it was far more immersive witnessing a scene and making my own judgments rather than being told exactly what is happening every step of the way. Not to say this can’t be good, as we will later play The Stanley Parable and it and its successor The Beginner’s Guide are amazing walking simulators games that utilize relatively linear narration, though they offer just enough choice for me to still feel invested in interacting with the work. I wish even in Dear Angelica I could have touched the wisps of color around me as the story kept going.