Week 2: The Boat

The second week of classes was a time for us to explore different kind of processes that we could use for the rest of the semester. We had a few hiccups; the machine hadn’t arrived yet, we had to figure out how to use the Voxon Emulator (seen in video) to recreate a similar type of experience we would see on the machine.

We had two goals for this first demo, our goldspike. 1) Use an interesting interaction with the emulator and 2) learn how our art assets would work in this type of display. Without the machine we can’t say for sure how everything will work, but we can use this demo to make some educated guesses.

For this first goal we decided on finding a good interaction with the LeapMotion. This smaller screen that people will stand around made us think that interactions that feel ‘god-like’ will keep the users engaged. We created a simple hand-wave motion detector that would move the boat as if you were controlling the actual wind or water. We also tested tracking your hand in water to change the experience to feel more fluid.

testing how the feel of water changes the experience

The second goal provided us a lot of design insights on what could work well and what we think wouldn’t.

  • We found that black is the best way to use occlusion, while other colors remain mostly transparent.
  • There isn’t a lightbox in the display, so all shadows needed to be baked beforehand.
  • Cartoonish characters and objects seem to work better, as they are more recognizable when smaller than a very detailed small object. A character would have to have large body movements.
  • We started with the boat bigger in the beginning so the user can clearly see it’s a boat, then zoom out so that image is still in the users mind.
  • Increasing ambient sound volume helps a lot with expanding the space and immersion as it situates you within the environment of the display

We ran into some design challenges that we still need to find workarounds for in the coming weeks:

  • GPU intensive for visuals so doing operations like 2D video or changing textures more frequently than usual is harder, same with changing the models and stuff
  • Frame rate will drop and will lag therefore will need to find a balance between which rate we want and balance consumption and processing with art and story and design
  • Display is very small, how can we make the immersion feel larger than life?