I have wanted to explore the Unreal Engine after playing with the Unity Engine in the first module and working in Flutter during the second module. With the start of the third module, I felt it was time take the plunge and finally challenge building something with Unreal. It took quite a bit of work but finally got Unreal setup on my mac using Visual Studio Code as my IDE so I could work on making things for the Rift Quest. There are a few things that few steps needed to compile and run C++ directly from Visual Studio but it was much easier than stetting up Unreal for Android. I have included the link for .Net framework for OSX below the work through videos. Being a standalone HMD with cheaper price-point, as well as portability makes it more that idea in the classroom. There are quite a few hoops to jump through to get everything working on a mac. My starting point was a recent video walkthrough for setting up Unreal on OSX for Quest development. I have also attached a reference video for Windows users.
At the moment I have set up a test project in the Unreal engine and am using a guide from the Unreal forums –How to Make a Flexible Visual Novel system in UE4. I’m using this to project to explore using the Unreal engine rather than Renpy or Unity. The project is in the bare bones stage with rough ideas bouncing around in my head and a few :
basic sketches of character ideas ( looking at artwork from Rad Sechrist and Dan Holland, their work on Kibo)
playing with the colour scheme ( characters and background) and shading style.
drafting story outline.
thinking about sound
I had thought about using photos that had a post apocalyptic feel based on the photography of Ulric Collette but have decided to go with the hand drawn look seen in most visual novels but with an edge. Below was and idea for a character type based on a Collette photo. I’ll put up my sketches in another post.
In this module I needed to read through the PhD thesis of Dr. Douglas Brown, “fearless leader and head of Falmouth Games Academy” and review one of the chapters. I choose Chapter One – Making the Case for the Medium. Seeing there was a lot to unpack in the chapter, I am still going through it a second time after an initial reading with notes and researching some of the terminology, scholars referenced, as well as, some of the games cited. Brown takes a qualitative approach to “comparing and contrasting games with film, theatre and literature” through the lens of ludonarrative dissonance which “refers to the intersection in a video game of ludic elements and narrative elements” or in simpler terms, ” the conflict between a video game’s narrative told through the story and the narrative told through the gameplay.” I’ve attached a video below that can help explain the crux of the idea. In this first chapter Brown is looking to “to justify the value of games as storytelling vehicles” and explores modes of engagement between games and the afore mentioned media. Is is necessary to understand the ideas of gameplay gestalt, diegetic vs. non-diegetic and the idea of the uniqueness of the suspension of disbelief in games. Brown is “investigating whether or not games require a hybrid mode of engagement made up of those required to engage with other media, or something unique and specific to their own form and construction.” But there is a caveat, he states that “in this chapter for the purposes of comparison the media types which will be set opposite games are flattened out and only their most popular or prevalent instances are engaged with. Specific kinds of film, with an emphasis on Hollywood, of literature with an emphasis on the novel and of theatre with an emphasis on mainstream classical drama have been selected to represent these media. Audiences, too, are flattened out into an assumed receiver.” I will be updating this post with answers to following questions:
Can I ‘deconstruct’ the argument – identify the gaps or jumps in the logic?
What are the strengths and limitations of this study?
In an earlier module I had been exploring player interaction in VR using VRTK ( a VR framework that adds interactivity without having to code the physics of those interactions from scratch). I had also explored voice as a method of interaction us IBM Watson.
Since then there have been interesting updates to the Unity and Unreal engines and I am excited to explore new ideas that build on some my earlier projects.I spent the time in between playing a few rogue-like RPGs and a really fun game, 60 Seconds! Reatomized.
This last game game me the idea of building an educational app that could be played in the classroom to test vocabulary and language understand while requiring quite a bit of interactivity. A student could use an Oculus Quest to challenge a learning task while fellow students and the teacher follow the action on a big screen TV, adding a immersive element to the event.
My idea for this module is to create a VR app that explores interaction in a collaborative environment but also can be applied to various platforms ( Oculus Rift vs. Oculus Quest) without having to rewrite all the code. I have been following the new Unity XR input system and also experimenting with Unreal Blueprints. The importance is that both engines now support Vulcan, which can “ make your graphics code clearer and faster, on top of allowing easier code sharing between PC and Mobile platforms”
In terms of interaction, I will be looking at basic object manipulation, such as grabbing and throwing objects, playing with haptic feedback and adding sounds between objects when they collide. At a “higher-level” of interaction, looking at interacting with doors, drawers, sliders, as well as collecting objects into an inventory. This is strongly tied into UI design.
Lastly, I need to consider how movement can impact player interaction, as well as how to implement locomotion, physical vs. artificial locomotion, that brings some excitement and motivates the to keep playing. There are also a few miscellaneous things, such as level transition and detecting when the user has put on or remove the headset that i need to consider.