Future Plans

I keep forgetting to update this blog. After the 2017 Launchpad announcement, this project did not get selected for the scholarship. Part of me was sad it didn’t win, but part of me also felt glad since I was not sure which direction I was heading with this. Sometimes I felt like the only person who enjoyed the app was just me.

For the future, i would like to research more about relaxation techniques, art therapy, and different type of interaction. I might turn EnlivenVR into a relaxation hidden-object experience.

Now to move on to the next projects!

Project Revisit

Today marked the first day I revisited Enliven VR since the Launchpad program submission. The main reason was I wanted to upgrade to the latest Unity 2017.1.1 version, but I had been hesitating for a while, in fear of things breaking. I also wanted to downgrade Oculus Utilities SDK from 1.16.0-beta down to 1.15.0 stable build.

Why these changes? In Unity 2017.1.0, apk is signed using Schema V2, while currently Oculus store submission only accept apps signed in Schema v1. That was the main reason why I had to create keystore manually to get it signed in Unity, then to resign the build using jarsigner. In 2017.1.1, we don’t have to deal with jarsigner anymore, and looked like I can reuse the existing keystore.

For the utilities downgrade, I have been having issues with camera, especially with objects that very close by. Sometimes I feel like the world move a bit, which definitely not comfortable.  I want to check if using the latest stable build can address this issue.  Oh, also it doesn’t help to see this information below on the release note for the beta version… This note was not there when I started using this utilities in mid July! >.<

As I mentioned previously, I was participating at Seattle VR Hackathon last weekend using my laptop, and we used the latest Unity there. I figure I might as well update Unity on this working machine, and thankfully the upgrade was seamless. Downgrading Oculus Utilities was a bit problematic though.  I started by deleting the OVR folder while Unity was open. Somehow, there were other components here and there that caused the utilities to keep being reloaded even after deletion. After many many attempts of deleting several different folders, I use the handy dandy google search, and stumble over this article. The main thing I learned for there was..  do this deletion when Unity was closed!  I followed that instruction, reopened the project, and Unity stopped trying to reload the OVR files, yay! There were a bit more remnant left, so I kept closing, deleting those components that got left behind. Once things were clean, I imported Oculus Utilities 1.15.0 and everything loaded properly. I built the latest scene and it was successful. Now we are ready for more testing and building.



Week 12 – Post PAX and Oculus Launchpad Submission

This week is the final week for Oculus Launchpad program. For those who has gone through game jam and hackathons, you know what this means…  the most productive time!

On Monday, I stayed at PAX until it ended. I took one day on Tuesday to recover from PAX Dev and PAX.

Unfortunately I did not have much time to demo my latest build there, since there were too many things going on. I did sat in the AFK room for about an hour, to observe how they run things there. I noticed the room was very quiet. There were people going in and out, but most of them sat down and either take a break, or talked to each other in very soft voice. It was a peaceful place. There were several tables inside with chairs around them. On each tables, there were several children and adults coloring books, crayons and color pencils. There were also flyers about the organizers (TakeThis.org), information about mental health and where to seek help. They even provide professional helps for those who need it during the event.

I flipped through several coloring books, and spent a lot of time going through one book called “Color Me Calm” by Lacy Mucklow. This book was designed for adults who needed to relax, and I took a lot of notes while I was in the room, which I listed below:

Images used to evoke more relaxing responses in people:

  • mandalas – for concentration, meditation & calming
    • sanskrit word for circle or round, even container for secret space
    • in book: circular, repeatable geometric pattern, round or curvy in nature, not jagged
  • nature aspects and patterns – inspirational calming
    • wooded scenes – quiet scenes of forest area evoke calm feeling
    • animal patterns – fish, nautilus, etc
    • natural pattern – snowflakes, ammonites, trees, shells, leaves, flowers
  • geometric pattern – regular, symmetrical pattern can be meditative
    • math basis, symmetrical design = balanced, evoke order, calmness and focus
    • asymmetrical patterns also convey the sense of balance because of exponential and logical pattern they create
  • water themes – envisioning steady or rhythmic flows and picturesque scenery can be soothing
    • water scenes are relaxing for many people, especially photographs and artwork of beaches, ocean
    • music with ocean waves in the background has a calming effect. Some says it reminds them of heartbeat sounds
    • environments of still water such as lakes, ponds, etc give soothing effect similar to white noise
    • water scenes are often associated with vacation, relaxation and fun times

With all these information, I will have to change the other rooms design for Enliven VR.

Back to project. For the final submission, I tried to cram as many polish as I could. Changes for this week:

Per feedback I got from a couple Oculus Launchpad participant and some friends, I decided to remove the keyboard. Most people expected to be able to change the background music by interacting with the keyboard. It was also hard to see from below, and felt unnatural.

Added butterfly behavior and modify existing wing material. Previously, when user gazed at animated creatures, my script enabled and disabled their animation property in Unity, which caused them to animate or freeze in the middle of their movement. It did not feel satisfying, and one feedback I got even expressed concern about ‘harming’ the butterflies. So this week I created a new script that made the butterfly hovering around when we gaze at them. The starting positioned seemed a bit jittery, but once it moved, it looked natural. I also set the butterfly to always animate, so they either float or hovering this time. For the wing material, it was originally very transparent, with a bit black outlines. Based on optimization documents I read, transparency really affects performance, and it is generally better to have less transparent areas. So I updated the butterfly texture to reduce the transparency and made it more colorful as well. As a result, they are easier to spot this time.

Added pets behavior. Similar to the butterfly, previously each pet started with disabled animation, and as user gaze at them, they started to move. I used the generic animator controller too, so their movements were not the greatest. Those who tested my app could tell that although the red panda was very energetic, the kitten only blinked and the husky pup walked in place unnaturally. This week I spent some time to create custom animator controller for each animal. Each pet now has four to five different animation cycles, and as user gaze at it, the pet movement changed randomly. The cat starts at idle, then it can meow, jumped a bit, or do a high jump. The pup starts at idle (sitting on its butt), then laying down, scratching its head, or sleeping. The red panda also has different movement per gaze, instead of one giant set of movements like before. These behavior will need to be tweaked more in the future to give even more personality and natural feeling.

Updated terrain geometry. Previously, I have had no luck in building Gear VR application when using Unity terrain tool. My builds tend to not running on the phone during testing. I have tried smaller terrain, with like 10 x 10 and still facing the same issue. The terrain geometry also cannot be scaled using transform properties. So in the previous builds, I just use a quad as a terrain and colored it green. This time around, I created a bumpy 10×10 planes in 3ds Max, brought the mesh to Unity, applied material and it worked like a charm. No issue in building, no performance issue during run time, and it looked a lot better than the flat quad.

Added temporary art for pillows and blanket. One of my tester was confused about the bed, since it is round, and not a standard rectangle-shaped bed. For a clear visual, I added pillows and blanket, but since time was limited, I did not have much time to implement any textures. Originally I wanted to create a Turkish comforter and bedding set, after my conversation with a fellow Launchpadder with Turkish background who mentioned about the dying tradition of handmade comforter. This will definitely be implemented in the future.

Fixed spotting and weird shadows on light-baking. After I started playing around with light baking in Unity, some assets, like the gazebo floor, pet tower, and the new added blanket had mold-like spotting or hatched lines. I was not sure what causing it and had been ignoring it for a while. Near the end of the week, one of my client started getting his hands wet lighting for his game as well, and he saw similar issue. He asked me about it, and I told him some lighting setting I have tried, like turning off shadows, etc. Also, out of curiosity, I looked up this behavior on google, and found out that it was caused by overlapping UV in the model. I updated the blanket model, fixed its UV overlap, re-baked the lighting again and voila, the spots were gone!  I shared my finding with my client, and proceed in updating the rest of problematic geometry. My environment looked a lot cleaner afterward.

Due to the natural disaster happening in Florida and Texas, Oculus Launchpad submission got extended from Sunday night to Tuesday at noon. As much as I tried to get much done, on Saturday I started to feel sore throat, and by Sunday it proceed to sinus infection. My husband had been down with flu since the end of PAX, and I was miraculously unaffected. However, the bug in the air finally hit me. So on Saturday, I finished writing the proposal, budget list. I spent half a day on Sunday to set up a wordpress site for Enliven VR main page, but I couldn’t get any style to work to my liking, so I scrapped it and just built it from scratch, using handy dandy notepad++ and my outdated knowledge of HTML and CSS. I spent Sunday night building the latest version of the app, and as previously having issue with jarsigner.

After taking some medicines this morning, I proceed to rebuild the app, resigned, and after a couple failed attempts, I noticed typo on the application path during jarsigning session. Once I use the correct path, it worked!  Again, based on my experience from game jam and hackathon, when you have a working build very close to submission, might as well submit it before proceeding into making a broken build in the next few minutes. I did the submission for both builds and documentations, and that’s it for this week.

Time to fight the PAX pox now. Next weekend will be the anticipated Seattle VR Hackathon, so I will try my best to rest before then. I might also take a bit of break from Enliven VR development to get a clear vision and reconsider design changes. So, see you in a week or two~

Week 11 Update

Every year Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) has always been a big industry event here in Seattle, so I know I would not have much time to work on developing Enliven VR much.

On Sunday night, after I posted the previous blog, I started to learn the submission process to put the latest build onto Oculus Store. I printed and read all the documentations from the website, watched and took notes from Nathan’s video, created a built, created storekey, signed it once, then got stuck on the jarsigning process. I kept getting nothing but errors. Every time I got an error, Google was my best friend and helped in finding answers. I recreated the build several times, tried several different storekey, and jarsign just wouldn’t budge. I went to bed feeling frustrated.

On Monday morning, I went back to Google, looked for more information, and started noticing pattern of people who had issue when their filename had weird symbol like numbers or signs. Also some people mentioned that we should shortened the path name.  So I created a new folder on my d:/ drive, put my new build there with really simple name. For the keystore, I use really simple password, again, no number or symbol. Then voila, jarsigner worked!!!  I was so happy.  Gabor reviewed the app really quickly too, probably because I posted it around lunch time. Thank you Gabor, hope you had time to eat lunch.

People in the discord channel, Lauren, Tyrus, and another Scott helped me on the whole process. For those who need help, hop on discord :D

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at PAX Dev. There were not many VR talk this year, unlike last year. The VR vibes last year was all about “give it a try, dev!  Don’t worry about failure, nobody knows what’s going on.”  This year, it’s more like “okay, we made mistakes, here what we learned.”

Currently I am at PAX. My mission is to try as many VR experiences I can try. It can be challenging since the lines are really long!  Bethesda is showing Fallout VR, Doom VR, Skyrim VR, and earlier I noticed the line was already 3.5 hours wait. There are a few indie VR games in smaller booth.

My other mission is to find some people who are willing to try my app. I had one lady volunteered this morning. She said she were a bit prone to motion sickness, and she did not have any discomfort using my app, which was great for me. There is also a special room here called AFK room where people can find safe space when they feel overwhelmed in the convention. I dropped by there earlier, talked to one of the organizer to see if I can demo my app there. He said to drop by tomorrow and have organizers try it first. We’ll see what happen then.

See you next week!

Week 10 Update

This past week has been very productive. I have created and placed more objects in the scene for more interaction, such as a musical keyboard that plays short sound clip as player look at it and some animated butterflies. For static objects, I created an oriental lantern for both hanging lights and standing light by the bed, some outdoor stone light to give more illumination at night, and simple star system made of quads and emissive material that glow in the dark and disappear during day time. For the laying down experience, I noticed during play test that it was hard to interact with the pets, so they needed to be propped up higher. To make it look natural, I created a simple pet tower for them to perch on.

For mechanics, I added a look-at-user script to rotate pets. It is simple but powerful, since it enhances the presence of user.

I also looked more into optimizations earlier in the week, before I added more objects into the scene. I was hitting a wall for a while, since no matter what I did, I can only get around 25-30 fps. Once in a blue moon it would shoot to 45, but it wasn’t a consistent experience. Fortunately on Thursday night, two local OLP members organized a Unity Help session night, and they invited someone from Unity. There were about 5 of us OLPer showed up that night and we talked about our progress. The Unity lady showed up for an hour and answered as many questions we have for her. I brought the latest unity build on laptop, Gear VR & Samsung phone, but I forgot to bring USB cable to connect the phone to the laptop, stupid me.

When it was my turn to ask questions, the Unity lady sat with me and looked over Unity profiler to figure out why my frame rate couldn’t go over 30. The main thing she noticed was my day/night system, which use dynamic lighting. She changed a few lighting setting, like using culling mask on specific layer so Enlighten (Unity lighting system) does not have to compute light on everything, just the few objects within that layer. She also noticed that although I baked my lighting, I have Realtime Global Illumination activate on my baking setting, so she turned it off. The performance seemed a bit better on laptop, but it was hard to tell unless we tested it on the phone.

The following morning I applied the same changes on my work PC and deployed a build into the S7, and to my surprise, the fps went up to around 45-55. Then I proceed to clean up all the geometry in the scene, by changing their lighting setting (under mesh renderer) to use appropriate probes and shadows. Also, since I use raycasting to identify and interact with certain objects, I read up on optimization on that as well. The raycasting script I use has an option to exclude certain layer, so I put all non-interactable objects in that layer. I also removed any unnecessary colliders from these objects. Doing these changes brought my fps to above 55.

After I get to the good fps, I started adding more objects into the scene, one at a time, then rebake lighting and tested the change on phone every single time. It seemed like a lot of work, but it really help me keep track of the performance. To speed up the process, I did most of the testing using GearVR developer mode, so I don’t have to put and pull the phone off the GearVR hardware all the time. I only use the HMD hardware to test for user comfort.

During the Unity help session, I asked a few people to try my latest build. The feedback was pretty uniform, that they felt pretty comfortable in the experience, but they weren’t sure what to do at first. Based on this feedback, I felt the need to create some sort of tutorial for the demo. Due to time constraint, I decided to create a floating manual with text & picture instructions. I started this module last night using Unity geometry & UI elements, until around 3am in the morning. The module worked pretty well, but unfortunately during testing on the phone, I could only get around 35-45 fps.

Since PAX Dev & PAX West are happening this week, here are my to-do list:
– Submit a stable build for demo by Monday night (8/28)
– Optimize tutorial module to bring fps back to 55+ by Monday night
– Build freeze, no more new features unless it’s emergency
– Play test latest stable build at PAX Dev & PAX West to collect feedback
– Start the documentation process (website, updated proposal, screenshots, etc)
– If time permitted, polish existing features, like pet animation and object placements to ensure user comfort.

Have a great Labor day weekend! See you next week.

Week 9 Update

This week was a bit like a roller coaster for me. There were tons of progress done, a lot of design changes, but there were also tons of crashes, weird unexplained issues, and also that big Unity emergency patch. I lost track of how many builds I had to deploy to the phone each day to test performance and comfort, something around 10-15 probably.

Following the plan, I changed the bedroom design from a closed room into a gazebo-type, to give a more open space feeling. The bed and roof were modeled last week, and I worked on its UV and materials earlier in the week. For the wall panels, I found a Chinese wall screen design that reminded me of something I saw in my grandparent’s house.

Using the same design, I replaced all the room wall with this, and I was really pleased with how it look afterward.

As the next step, I replaced pet placeholder art with real 3D assets. I found three low-poly and really inexpensive asset packages from the Unity store and use them in the scene. The pet spawning script was tweaked to show only one pet at a time, at specific place based on user’s position (laying down, reclined or sitting up).  Once the pets spawned at the right locations, I changed the script to treat these pets as pooled objects, so I don’t need to keep instancing and destroying them at run time.

Afterward, I looked up some information to create day & night cycle. I tried following two different tutorials, and the last one seem to work really well. Since this has a lot to do with lighting, I baked lighting on every single updates. The effect was pretty nice, although it tend to be really dark at night time. To compensate, I added one spotlight from the ceiling, and surrounded player’s camera with light probe. This added a bit of ambient light so the scene was not totally dark during night time.

I also adjusted user camera’s height based on position, as a feedback from the user test during game jam. Unlike Rift or Vive where we can track headset position automatically, we need to fake this on mobile VR. During the previous play test, I only had one position for the camera, which was for the reclining option. For those who test it laying down, they felt like floating, and when sitting down, they felt like sinking into the bed. With this height adjustment, it feels more realistic. The camera is higher when we sit down, a bit lower when reclining, and very close to the bed when we lay down.

Things were nice and peachy at this time. Then, as I tried to add more 3D objects onto the scene, like planes with transparency, terrain, vegetation, things started to go wrong. Unity refused to bake any lighting, while spouting nonsense error like ‘cannot generate lighting file’ and that was it. My scene turned completely dark because of it, which made it hard to test. Then, every single build that got deployed onto the phone just crashed. I noticed that before Unity stubbornly saying no to baking, my light map increased from 2 maps to 27 different maps. That day I just walked away from my work PC and went to Seattle Unity Group meetup, where I met an artist friend who was familiar with Unity lighting. I described my problem to him, he asked a few questions.. and we all agree that I might need to just restarted the PC. We also learned about the security patch update in the middle of the meetup. Then I went home, applied the patch, got an error in the middle of patching, and then Unity spout baking error every single time. Fun times. I ended up staying up til 3 am reinstalling Unity, repatching, and just rolled back my project to the time when things were peachy. Hooray for github and version control!

On Friday, after the office hour, I started learning about optimization. I also pay more attention to the fps. My scene performance was really bad. It was around 25-30 fps on Tuesday, and by Friday it was around 12-25. To check for fps, I use Unity profiler, adb catlog, and this script attached to the camera. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. Then Gabor posted a review from Lauren’s King Crab game, where he pointed out similar fps issue as mine. I followed his suggested setting, and the fps went up a little bit. I wasn’t able to do single-pass render, since my app just stuck at Unity logo every time I tried that.

On Friday night, I joined the OLP discord channel that Tyrus set up. We talked about optimization, and he mentioned batching and watching for draw calls. Through him, I learned about the Unity statistics option during run time on the editor. Thank you, Tyrus!  I started watching the line that says SetPass calls, combined with using Unity frame debugger  (under Window -> frame debugger). I noticed that all the interactable objects in the scene had very high number, something about rendering, I guess. Then I realized that those objects contain outline script. As I researched more, it seems outline effect usually cause performance issue, as shown in a few situations below.  I removed this effect, and my fps was back to around 25-30.

I spent Saturday learning how to modify Unity shader script and managed to create a few variation of mobile shader, convert existing standard materials into mobile mats. After doing this, I was able to add more objects into the scene. I also added a custom skybox, and had to modify the existing day/light script to control skybox exposure. Then call it a day.

Next week plan:
– work more on optimization
– add more object without crashing the app
– add a little bit interaction aside from the pet
– figure out a way for pets to focus on player’s camera for presence
– learn and submit a build to Oculus store.
– build freeze by end of week, due to PAX dev & PAX west.

See you next week!

Week 8 Update

This week was one of those time when I lost track of days and suddenly it was the end of the week. If it wasn’t for persistent calendar notifications, I would totally missed the office hour on Friday too. Thank you, technology!

I spent two days resting to recover from the conferences and game jam. Then, following advice from the conference, I worked on making real assets for this project. The first room to tackle is the bedroom scene. During the game jam in the previous week, I managed to grab a couple friends to try the early unpolished prototype, and they both like the outer space scene, and dislike the bedroom scene. They like the open space feeling, and bedroom barely had any opening. So I spent a few days researching open space room design as an alternative. Initially I wanted to create a Japanese inspired room, with tatami floor, ceiling, shoji wall panels & doors. Moving ahead, I still want to have some Japanese room elements but combined with modern design for the open space feeling. I’m hoping to get this all done by the end of next week.

Here are a couple model I created for bedroom scenes:

Then after listening in the office hour Q&A, I decided to update Samsung S7 O/S from Marshmallow to Nougat. I went to At&t first, explained my situation to them, but they were not able to help. We tried with inserting their sim card onto the phone and looked for update, but nothing happened. Not only that, the phone suddenly said I couldn’t try to update for another 20 something hours. Then I messaged Caroline, another OLP participant. She mentioned to go to Best Buy, and look for Samsung representative there, since she had better luck going by this method. I followed her suggestion and went to the closest Best Buy, and voila, the Samsung guy just plugged my phone to his laptop, push a few buttons and I have Nougat installed. Thank you Caroline!

Plan for next week:
– finalize bedroom level design with real assets
– add 1-2 animal companion to the scene
– start implementing interaction for space and bedroom scenes

See you next week!

Week 7 Update

This week I did not have any time to work on my own project due to conferences and local game jam.  There was DevGAMM on Monday, Casual Connect on Tuesday til Thursday, Seattle Indies game jam on Friday til Sunday. In fact, I’m writing this from the game jam, now that I have some free time after churning art assets over the last 3 days.

I took a lot of notes from the conferences:

From DevGAMM:

  • localizations boost sales & visibility / discovery (which is a big issue for current game developers)
  • VR experience has more impact than video games. Positive – people who play more VR can overcome certain phobias, such as height. Negative – can be traumatizing & bad experience, user no longer interested in VR (not just your product). Design carefully

What I learn from Casual Connect:

From Things to learn from Raw Data:

  1. know target audience (hard core players, expressive, or creative).
  2. Community management. Target VR enthusiast, engage them. Know where to reach the community based on audience (pc gamers use reddit). Do content marketing – for example create graphic novel about in- game content for Comic Con. Run Freaky Friday event where VR devs from different companies try each other’s products, share the result with the community.
  3. Identify the influencers. Give keys at pre-alpha to streamers or influential VR enthusiasts
  4. Key relationship. Build & maintain relationships with platform companies, like Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, etc. Look for opportunities to get featured in the platform store.
  5. Analytic – use data to find information
  6. Launch. Use appropriate information to present at conferences & events. For example, highlight technical talk for GDC, while talking more about contents and features at E3.
  7. Demo & arcade. Give public opportunity to try the product.
  8. Optimizations – happen early & often; level of detail art assets need to be tested in VR; sound location matters (ex, for a gun, the cocking sound, bullet, shooting sfx need to be separated)
  9. Breaking rules- let user have control of the head; if dev need to add feature, make sure it enhances the experience, not making user uncomfortable.

From Shipping the first VR game (Archangel):

  • make no assumptions
  • VR / AR needs a lot more testing than games
  • Need testing using all elements (textured 3d assets, effects, lighting, audio) instead of just greyboxing/ temp assets
  • understand what works
  • expect delays, need more iteration in VR than games
  • expect technical challenges, especially if managing multiple platforms
  • expect process challenges. It’ s even more difficult when working with remote team members
  • When designing interactions, consider different skill levels. Consider user position. There’s a reason stand up meetings are super short. Consider players daily activities. People who work long hours standing might not want to go home & play standing up.
  • UI – text is hard to read
  • Locomotion – still the hardest problem in VR
  • Budgeting – add 100% to budget compared to game dev due to delays, not including hardware. Always add extra time.
  • Stylized art asset can affect a lot in VR. Can’t rely on existing video game assets; they will need to be optimized for VR

From Opportunities and Challenges of Building Games in VR/AR/MR:

  • Challenges: user comfort & fatigue. Unlike video games, it’s hard to play game in VR when we are not feeling well. VR can be isolating than shared experience. Locomotion & motion sickness are still big issues
  • Design tips: don’t go immediate hi-resolution with assets. If needed, reduce amount of things in the world. If it’s not interactable, maybe they need to be removed.   Keep frame rate minimum to 90 (check with device specs). Use spatial sound, cues, haptics. Get experimental to enhance presence.
  • For testing, put a lot of people through the experience, listen to them and also watch their body language. The first test is motion test, to see how the user react to motion sickness. Second test is to see if people understand the experience. The third test is design balancing.
  • Comfort & accessibility – consider designing experience that can be used with only 1 controller. Implement height adjustment for those in wheelchair. Give people alternatives for sensor (?), for example after a while player can get tired of talking, standing, etc.

From State of VR Content in 2017:

  • VR is not casual, nor it’s like everything else (mobile game, PC games, etc)
  • Don’t coast on novelty. People are no longer shocked. They want more experience.
  • Explore both PC and mobile. Mobile systems are getting closer to closer to PC.
  • Be more broad on genre. People are curious.

From Investment Opportunity for VR Gaming Studios:

  • In VR/AR, a lot of creative works come from women. However, lots of funding are not going to them.
  • Investors look at company’s portfolio before investing. They look at the leadership of the company, what they’re thinking about the future, whether they have longetivity, have enough money to survive 18-24 months, also if they’re willing to learn and grow.
  • VCs currently avoid investing on hardware, since they take a while to tweak. They like to invest in market trend, not in long-term R&D projects. They invest in tools & contents. They’re big on location-based entertainment.

For the game jam, the theme is “it’s not a scam”.  I’m working in a team of 5 people (2 programmers, one audio person, one 3D artist.)  We are working on VR experience of a buyer’s remorse, when the user bought their dream space ship, only to find that things break along the way. The development process is interesting. We have one person with Oculus Rift + touch, and two people with HTC Vive, all working on the same project at the same time.  We are using mainly SteamVR and Newton VR for physics.  If anyone is interested, you can download our project at https://github.com/chinnie/SpaceLemonVR .   Currently the main scene is integrated for HTC Vive build, but the unity project main scene can be run on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift + Touch.

Here is video from the presentation:

Plan for next week:
– sleep in and relaxing on Monday.
– create art assets for Enliven VR

See you next week!

Week 6 Update

I started this week by tinkering pet swapping module, by creating 3 different points in space related to user position (sitting, reclining or laying down flat), placed planes to represent the pets, and wrote scripts to instantiate and destroy objects at run time based on preference. I was a bit worried about performance at this point, but since there would be only one pet at a time in the level, the instancing/destroying method shouldn’t affect performance much.

Afterward, I modify the menu system a bit. For easy access, I want the menu to be available at all times, probably floating somewhere the user can gaze at. However, I don’t want the menu to obstruct the user’s view of the world. After pondering for a while, I use the menu system from my favorite mobile game, Neko Atsume as reference. I like how its menu always available at the top left corner, and it is really easy to use.

Here is a sample of the pet swapping module and the new menu system.

For positional menu, I decided to line the buttons vertically instead of horizontally like before. This way, it is a lot more comfortable for the user in any position to pick the button menu based on his or her current position.

As I test the opening scene in space, I realize this level can be pretty relaxing as well. So instead of just floating in space, I started creating a mock-up space-pod. For the art direction of this project, I try to avoid square, or sharp edge geometry, and create more curvy shapes. So for the space-pod, I made it a transparent sphere.

For the pod seat, I looked up some reference pictures for sci-fi captain seats and found out that most of the designs look really uncomfortable, like the ones from Star Trek. Then I turn my search to pool floats, and they look really comfortable. However, having a pool float inside a bubble feel a bit weird, so I added some structure, like curvy metal beams to the pod. The beams help in creating the feeling of inside a personal space pod, and interestingly enough, I feel safer being inside this room compared to when I was just floating in space.

Below is a video of the space pod experience. I haven’t had the time to implement the space as its own relaxation level.

I let my husband tested this build last night. Unfortunately, due to time, I wasn’t able to create custom materials for the mock up space pod, so I used existing glass material from my previous project, which was a survival horror game, and the glass was cracked. As my husband tried the demo, he felt very uncomfortable in the space area since the cracked glass made him nervous.

For next week, most likely I won’t have much done in term of development, since I will be at DevGAMM, Casual Connect Seattle and also a 48-hours game jam hosted by Seattle Indies. I will definitely bring my latest build and GearVR, and test it to whoever wants to give it a try. We’ll see how it goes.

Here is the video of the latest build. See you next week!


Week 5 Update

My anxiety problem continued from last week, and I figured it came from a really dense scheduling. I took a few step back, looked at current schedule and milestone, and started rearranging priorities to be more reasonable. It is great to have goals, but it’s an issue if we break down before reaching that goal. So in the beginning of the week, I dedicated a couple days away from Unity development and concentrated on paper design. I spent those days to relax myself using the latest Enliven VR build. It actually worked pretty well with the few features available right now. I only had issue when I started analyzing things while using the application instead of just simply relaxing, and triggered the anxiety. I had to keep reminding myself to take off the developer hat while I was using the headset.

In the middle of the week, I experimented with menu range and rotation based on user position. This short video below showed the mock up I had, where user started at reclined position, then selected sitting and laying down positions. The five buttons per row represent user comfort range for horizontal view. I can actually go up to 7 buttons, but the extra two buttons might cause neck discomfort over time. In actual experience, this menu will be hidden until user decide to activate it.

This user position is then carry over as persistent data from one scene to another, using Level manager with DoNotDestroy() script attach to it. Below is a mock up video of the latest build of Enliven VR.  The music is a temporary placeholder, composed by Niki Wonoto, a talented friend from Indonesia. He’s given me permission to use his pieces in my free projects. For Enliven VR, I’m requesting a couple new pieces from him.

Plan for next week:
– modify persistent data to implement instance based on user option
– implement menu hide/show
– start creating art assets

See you next week!