Conclusion

Research Evaluation

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.

Immersion Evaluation

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.

Narrative/Simulation Evaluation

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.

What’s Next?

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.

Conclusion

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.

Advertisements

Basic Lighting

Capture_04 Capture_05Creating visual cues for the player – this way the player is drawn into the most important parts of the scene and immersed in the hidden spatial narrative.

Mise-En-Scene

Capture_02 copy

Pillory

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.

Capture_05 copy

Graveyard

DSC00458
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.

Capture_07 copy

Gallows

I included a gallows because hanging was a large part of the trials.DSC00460 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.
Capture_10 copy

1690s Clutter

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.

cropped-fire.jpg

Bonfire

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.

Mise-en-scene – Development

Capture_06_planCapture_06

After creating the basic space I had to populate the environment with representations of the Witch Trials. This is a basic planning sketch on what I want to add, including clutter, a garden and a gallows. This is where environment design comes in to play – I needed to consider what would be a realistic space and what would looks aesthetically pleasing.

Concept Sketches

Storyboard

Fly-Through

House modeling

Blender vs. Maya

Capture_18

Modelling: Problem

Although our tutorials were on Blender and I was able to learn the basics, Blender didn’t work out for this project. I knew that I wanted a realistic looking style for the game, but I didn’t have the time or skill to make intricate models and detailed UV textures.

Capture_19 Capture_20

To get this realist look I decided to use Mudbox. I sort of had a basic understanding of it and I would be able to Stamp, Stencil and add small detail textures to my meshes. The problem was I that Mudbox is very ‘picky’ about the meshes it will work with.

Modelling: Solution

 This meant that I had to switch to Maya from Blender because Maya had better tools to prepare the mesh for Mudbox. To prepare the meshes each seam had to be double lined and there could be no errors or holes in the mesh – everything including the UVs had to be completely clean. This did double modelling time but in turn halved the texturing time – which is what I really wanted to focus on.

Capture_17

Texturing: Problem

Through this process at the start I made a big mistake. I added too much detail to the first mesh I was working on, and that costed me hours of work time – and in the end I had to scrap the mesh and start again.

Capture_23 Capture_22

Texturing: Solution

I then had to re-create the houses but with a way more simple mesh so that I could subdivide in Mudbox and paint/sculpt the meshes for personalised details. This worked as the best technique for me as the houses back in the 1690s were square and plain in shape but very weathered and old.

church_new church_normal_v10

Capture_25

Process:

  1. Model in Maya with double edges
  2. UV unwrap the models
  3. Stencil, Stamp and Paint on the textures in Mudbox
  4. Sculpt for the Normal Maps in Mudbox
  5. Put them together in Unity 3D material

Pros

  • High detail texture maps
  • Normal maps for lighting
  • Half the texturing time
  • Familiarity with the software

Cons

  • Twice the modelling time
  • Mudbox needs extremely clean meshes and UVs
  • UV unwrapping in Maya
  • Very low detail models

17th century village tour – Architecture research

http://www.plimoth.org/what-see-do/17th-century-english-village I watched a video from this website about a 17th century village the re-enacts the people, and the environment of what it would be like to love there. Although it was England, many of the customs and housing will apply to my american town. The video picked apart the houses, how they were made, and why. Showing the class differences and weathering techniques.  It was interesting to note that the houses were mostly made by sticks and clay. In my models i’ll keep in mind the layers of clay + stick installation and oak tiled walls.

Here is the video:

Creating the floor plan from Maps of the past

Map

University of Virginia. 17th Century Documents. “Salam Witch Trials.”http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/17docs.htmlsalemmap1c

University of Virginia. 17th Century Documents. “Salam Witch Trials.”http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/17docs.html

I studied the maps of Salem from back then, and re-created my own map based of the general guidelines of  those maps. The village I created a map for has a outlying woods area that you enter from –  then within the village you can see the surrounding buildings. I’ll used image maps to create the illusion of a bigger village than available to physically enter. The layout of the buildings and area are based off of these maps.

Map copy

Plan for the setting – further research ideas

Creating the base environment/ ‘feel’ of a 1690s Salem Village

Research will be required for the representation of historical culture and physiological concerns of the witch trial era. The major case study will be the Salem witch trials. It will be following the writings of Cotton Mather who was an infamous ‘witch hunter’ in the 1690s. It will also follow the story of Tituba, an accused witch who was rumoured to have started the Witch Trial “craze” in Salem town by telling tribal stories to her Masters daughters. Although focused on the particular town the environment will be a representation of the witch trials as a whole, and will include elements from earlier and later trials.

The setting will be a 1690s European town. The player will start in an outlying forest during the night and will be guided towards the town by atmospheric lighting. As the player slowly progresses they will start to notice highlighted anomalies that suggest tension within the town, (for example hateful words and threats being carved on doors.) The player is then encouraged to stay hidden. As the player walks further along the path the environment becomes more uncomfortable as deadly and torturous structures for the punishment of witchcraft are discovered.

There will be three main buildings, a church, court house and jail. Within these places there will be evidence of the witch trials based off true events with some intractable objects. At the end of the path there will be a witch burning that you are able to walk towards. If you come within sight of the towns’ people you will be accused of being a witch and will be given the choice to confess and name another witch or plead innocent and be burnt alive. Research for fire particle effects will be required.