Again with the sound I over-reached for my skill level. I again thought the audio would just be a matter of drag and drop – but it wasn’t at all. How the basic audio works is the character has an audio listener and you can place audio source into the scene as an invisible object. Unfortunately this plays the sound at the same volume no matter where you are in the scene from start to finish. This just wouldn’t work for triggering audio and placing multiple audio sources throughout the scene.
I ended up creating three C# Scripts:
(With help from outside source examples)
- Audio that plays once when walk into
- Audio that plays continuously once approached
- Audio that plays only in a specific area.
The code connects the sound sources to the trigger collides in the scene so that when the character approaches the trigger the audio plays.
In future I would try and find a way to make the sound blend smoother and feather as you walk through the collider – I think it may just be a matter of changing the shape of the collider, but I could be wrong.
To create immersion for the scene I needed to add movement and sound. I explored how I can use code to move objects and create triggered objects.
The movement was a lot easier than expected for the environment objects. Unity created public options such as the ‘wind’ effect to be able to manipulate and animate trees and grass. The only struggle I found was creating movement through the lighting and smoke. While the trees and grass moved, I wanted the smoke and lights to breathe.
Programming the Light Movement: Error
For the lights I ran into issues when trying to animate them with code. As I’m not an advanced programmer I was hoping to use the default code to create flickering lights, but unfortunately the Unity engine had other ideas. This error came up when implementing it. At first I thought it was an error with the new Global illumin
ation feature in the new update of Unity 5.1 I was working with, where some of the light doesn’t show up where its suppose to due to the reflection bounces.
Although after a long time of scrolling through the internet’s question and answer sites I discovered that the issue actually comes from Unity not being able to implement reflection bounces on spot and point lights. So when the code was applied the light just didn’t work at all.
Programming the Light Movement: Solutions
The first solution I tried was to change the light mode to a directional light so that the code would work. Unfortunately that had harsh negative effects on my scene:
The lights flickered, but the directional light not only effected the entire environment no matter how small the intensity but i
t also entirely changed the mood of the scene. So I had to think of something else.
The next thing I could think of to do was change the code, create an entire new one. The idea of it was terrifying but a great learning curve.
Start to finish screen shots of the Unity Scene being created
The first thing I did was model a simple map layout from my drawn concepts in Blender, then I imported it into Unity so I could test the scale and layout of the scene. I also used scale references provided by class tutorials to test the scale.
Next I added simple models to test the feeling of the environment when you move around. I also added the skybox for realism. I found that I made a lot of changes here, the environment felt too empty and felt very fake. After adding the refined models and texture, it still wasn’t what I wanted. I tried to add more trees to fill up the environment background, but it was too many polygons and would have made the scene too heavy.
To solve this problem I created an image with Photoshop brushes to create the effect of having a silhouetted forest background. It took a while of playing around with position and tree density to get the desired feeling.
The next technique I used to add a fuller background was a complete failure.
In Maya, I tried to put together a scene that I could use as a rendered image, but due to my lack of knowledge in Maya with cameras and lighting it didn’t look good in the scene and I had to take it out.
Although looking at it now – It could have possibly worked if I didn’t change the lighting in Maya and left it natural. If I had more time I would go back and add it to the image.
Once I spent hours arranging the tree density and the size of the background images, I was now able to start adding more texture detail to my scene. To create the ground I used the Unity 3D terrain editor, and looked at references for environment design and how to fill the space.
Working with the oculus rift I’ve found is a lot about testing. The oculus changes the settings lighting drastically which affected my game numerous times. At one point, I felt motion sickness just taking it on and off testing it for lighting.
On the plus side, the game itself doesn’t cause motion sickness. Because the lights are only allowing the play to focus on a few things at a time – it seems for some reason to help the game be easier to use and cause less motion sickness. A game feature I never intended on but are lucky to have – especially since I’m personally very prone to motion sickness.
Testing the oculus out at the Armageddon Expo was a huge success. I wasn’t able to keep track of the feedback the entire time – but from what I did hear apparently it was well received. It was definitely too dark, which is what lead me to further testing.
Studying the witch trials in the 1960s was interesting. Interesting being that I genuinely found out some information about the past that not only educated me but sparked ideas and inspiration. I used the online witch trial documentary archive and transcript project (http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html), the Salem Witch Trial Musem Website (http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/education/), the history channel documentary (http://www.history.com/topics/salem-witch-trials), Ken Radford ‘Tales of Witchery: Fire Burn’, architectural references for 17th century houses and google images to accumulate the necessary references and information for my studies.
I found these resources rich with information. The Documentary was the most help with understanding what happened within the trials and understanding the politics of the trials. The archive and transcript project contained maps and information about the residents that was vital to how I designed spatially.The book ‘Fire Burn’ was very helpful for learning about the way the witches were perceived in society, their crimes, their suspected crimes and their deaths. The Architectural references (namely 17TH CENTURY VILLAGE TOUR – ARCHITECTURE RESEARCH) was extremely great for building the models, having someone show you around the area and exactly how everything would have been put together was an incredible help.
I found my research was very saught-after and the rewards showed in the word I produced. If I could have changed anything, I would have chosen the same theme but maybe another town and/or timeframe than Salem. The other countries and eras I found were far more aesthetically pleasing and interesting.
From this assignment, I have firmly come to believe that the Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality is not just a gimmick and I would love to design for it again. When designed with the appropriate game mechanics, aesthetics, dynamics and audience the Oculus could possibly be great for the industry. I felt that this assignment made me aware that the Oculus could do incredible and eye-opening things for History and Museum within education and tourism. I also think that the Oculus from my project has proven to provoke the emotion of fear and unease within a simple environment and has great potential to be used as a tool to evoke emotions from players that traditional media can’t due to its illusion of isolation and immersion.
I believe that my project is similar to a Simulation rather than a Narrative, although the map does contain spatial narrative. The lights direct the player to moments of interest, and the sound acts as an emergent narrative as you believe within the game that there might be things moving around you – but it is up to your own mind to decide what.I could theorise about my project all day – but the main point to take away is that it is a simulation playground for a player to experience the 17th-century horrors of the Salem Witch Trials. Although I would have liked to add more objects within it to highlight the theme (and may still) I think that the over-all design of the environment is enough to entertain on an installation time-frame. The game helped me better understand spatial narrative and simulation, and I will apply this knowledge in future projects.
I think that if this project were to go further it would be better suited to a narrative-driven horror game using historical events as a driving force and main interest behind the game. Although for now it works as a simulation – its potential for a narrative game is more appropriate.I am now aware though that the Oculus can be used to create installation and educational environments.
I am happy with the amount of work I have completed in the given time – and would love to work on this project further in my own time. I think that I learnt a lot about the Oculus that can help me within environment design, spatial narrative and simulation. I don’t think the overall aesthetic was very visually appealing and in future I will provide more time for the visual design of the experiance.
A convicted witch would be ‘pilloried’ before awaiting their trail or being sent to a jail – the idea was to expose the convicted witch to the towns people and sometimes would be sent to other towns for them to be aware of their witchcraft crimes. I decided to add it to my scene as one of the first objects you see. I feel like it sets the mood and acts as a subtle warning to passers-by.
I added the Graveyard because there were stories about witches stealing items for their potions. It is also a representation of death, and how it was open and displayed in those times. If there’s anything to learn from back then, is that death was common and very much a daily part of life. The graveyards also hold the purpose of displaying the year to the players.
I included a gallows because hanging was a large part of the trials. I placed it in the centre of town because many people would crowd around to watch the hanging. I didn’t include the rope to not only censor the game but because it would have taken far too long to model for such a small detail. Although even the suggestion of a hanging is enough to get the idea across. The environment is supposed to represent death, which a gallows fits perfectly. Although there is no rope, I added a sound trigger that will bring the object to life.
In the scene, there are a couple of instances where I needed to fill space. I decided to use outdoor manual labour tools, as they won’t feel out of place in the dark and also can remind the player of the time-frame that they are in.
The bonfire is placed to represent the witch burnings that resulted because of the witch trials. It was a terrible part of the witch trial era and is there at the end of the scene to represent the widespread, out of control growth of the witch trials throughout America, Europe and the world.