Progress was steady this week as we were mainly prepared for our quarters presentation on wednesday.
It went well!
We wanted to make two things clear that I’m hoping got across to the faculty. First was what we meant by “collaborative VR.” What we ARE NOT looking for is an experience where every student is pressing the same button or hitting the same ball at the same time. On the contrary, what we ARE looking for is a sense of shared presence, meaning that you can see your friends in the same environment as you and explore together. Second, we wanted to explain that the goal of our project was not just build this VR experience, but be able to successfully deploy it in school as well as per the user experience flow shown below.
I think the feedback was positive, and we are in an overall good place, but we were given two very big points to think about.
Some Positive Response
One was the discrepancy between the low-poly art style and the real world things they were supposed to portray. We’re in a weird spot because the Daydream’s capabilities are quite low, so we’re forced to use low polygon counts for our art assets, especially if we want to make larger scenes, but the professors want a “more realistic” environment. We thought about work arounds and different ways to go about our art, but we couldn’t come to any conclusions. We visited Jesse Schell and he confirmed our suspicions. The Daydream just doesn’t have enough power to use higher polygon, more realistic assets. Everything on the daydream store so far is in low poly and there’s no way we can solve that problem on our own. Sharan brought up a good point that the professors were used to these beautiful, highly detailed Vive and Oculus VR worlds, and we just have to prove to them that it’s not currently possible on the daydream (not to say our experience won’t be beautiful, it’s just highly stylized). We are making sure that every asset contains the key characteristics of what there are trying to represent, regardless of tech.
The second was actually implementing the experience in the classroom. The professors wanted us to try and get the entire Cornell class into VR as soon as possible, so we could understand more logistical questions like: how long would it take to get the students into the headset? How loud will the classroom get? How will groups function? And so on. We plan to visit Thursday (10/5) to give a demo of what we have so far.
Speaking of, we have some small demos. Rajeev and Sharan have implemented the basic UI and experience programming, making our virtual field trip entirely playable by both the students and teachers (once we have all the assets and educational material). Nicky has been working insanely hard to get our lake area done, and it’s close to being finished. This is the environment we plan on showing to the students on thursday.