It’s been quite a while since you last heard from us, and what a wild ride it’s been since then!
Before I dive too far into latest updates, we thought we might be overdue for…
This was an insane project to complete in fifteen weeks, and while our core team of four did a lot, it would be completely unfair to say that we did it alone. Zach Herman and Ramsey Pack brought our characters to life, Stephen Murphy added personality to our scenes through composition, and his 3 band-mates in turn gave that music soul. We had a whole team of audio engineers at the College of Fine Arts turning that music into usable tracks, and then we needed Julian Korzeniowsky to implement it. We had awesome research technician in Robotics who basically built a set for us before our mo-cap recording and cleaned up our data after, and incredible ETC mentors who made sure all of this was done in the most professional way possible. We really were a village.
Now then, what HAVE we been up to since completion? Well… we weren’t exactly complete. We had a number of bugs that we could ignore for the purposes of finals, but ones we definitely had to address in order to effectively showcase our product publicly. And public it had to be: We were asked to be a part of both the Intel University Game Showcase (IUGS) and CHI 2018 Demos.
The thing is, we were no longer all in one project room: Zoe is doing an intensive course-load, Sharon on an animation project. and Melissa at an internship down the road, and Brad interning in another city altogether. No longer the 36-hour a week dedicated team, we had to scope down our intentions to reasonable and accomplish-able goals for each conference. And so we created our first formal QA phase!
Melissa grabbed a VR laptop and Vive setup from the school and set up a testing area in her living room. Sharon and Zoe made updates to the animation based on daily bug reports that Melissa released at the start and end of every day. The number one rule, though, was: This is no longer your primary project – give what you can, but no more. For the most part this meant that all urgent bugs were cleared out, but many others were ones we simply had to live with.
In the meantime, Melissa and Brad put their heads together to prepare research abstracts and promotional documents for the conferences. IUGS required information for their brochure, and CHI needed formally formatted documentation for their publications. And of course, it wouldn’t be an ETC demo without swag.
Both events, but especially CHI, were incredible! The reason I say especially CHI (no offense IUGS) was that, because Demos was effectively the opening reception, there were so many people in the fields of HCI research and design who were just excited to play, talk, and engage with the cutting edge. No one expected polish – only thoughtfulness and a willing to participate in exploratory dialogue. We had conversations about immersive theater, VR as exposure therapy, and were story in VR can go!
We came back from these conferences absolutely inspired: ready to both share and increase our knowledge. There’s a good chance that we’ll continue to submit to conferences, but now our eyes are on refining our lessons learned into a road map for a possible 2.0. After all, with all the things we discovered – everything we did right and wrong – making a better and more refined product would definitely require an entirely new project.
In the meantime, we will be sure to put our lessons learned on a separate page here for everyone to read.