At this point, what ISN’T a prototype?!
We’ve had a busy and productive week here at Prediction Error Productions. From two extremely informative meetings with Professor Rob Lloyd and Jaleese Blanding-Coates to hours and hours of prototype completion, we made progress on all fronts.
We discussed the design of themed attractions and entire experiences with Professor Lloyd, did some thinking about puzzle design, and spent time in a VR museum exhibit discussing challenges of the medium with Ms. Blanding-Coates. The art team completed several character concepts and a floorplan of the laboratory, from which we’ll work this week to expand the greybox room that was made today.
Samara, Erin, and Chris all worked on mechanic prototypes, continuing to iterate on work from previous weeks. Samara added sound files and dynamic reactions to the conversation system and created a rudimentary teleportation system from which we can build a more refined one. Chris got a set of VR hands working so we can craft interactions with the Oculus SDK (which we decided on after trying both it and VRTK). Erin designed and assembled a version of a puzzle that will end up in the game – it’s not much of a puzzle without art, but it will eventually work once it’s integrated into the scene.
The sound team met to discuss direction and has started compiling a foundation of inspiration for the game’s soundtrack, including works from contemporary games and recordings from jazz greats such as Miles Davis.
Next week, we’ll be finishing up bringing our prototype work together for a deliverable work-in-progress, and continuing to push forward on the art front.
- Composition Analysis/General Research: 5h
- Piano Practice: 4h
- Arranging/Conceptualization: 3h
Total Hours: 12h
Positives: This week I’ve begun delving into research in a big way. Essentially this consists of compiling music in the realm of what we’re aiming for (classic modal jazz, modernist music, and contemporary “doom jazz”), critically listening to said music, analyzing the theoretical concepts behind each respective piece in-depth, as well as looking into the artists, histories and ideas behind the music for a deeper contextual understanding as to the nature of the music. I’ve also been trying to keep up a regular routine of playing the piano, as I believe for music of this kind, as much instrumental deftness and knowledge as I can obtain will go a long way. Furthermore, playing the piano is where inspiration strikes me most lucidly in terms of potential musical pieces. Having said that, I’ve also been using Ableton live to arrange my musical ideas in a concrete way while retaining the ability for quick edits and instrumental additions (though only for expedient mock ups to be sure). At this point, I am well on my way to fully immersing myself in the music of noire and gaining true insight into the style. I now have 4 potential pieces in the works, albeit all still being in the nascent stages of development.
Negatives: I’m still not at the point where I am satisfied with the amount of time I’m committing to these endeavors, and I am facing some difficulties in terms of creating music that both feels authentic to the style and simultaneously has a unique flavor to it. The proper balance of these elements will only come with a full understanding of the music of noire.
Initiate Compromise Protocol
- Listening to Reference: 2h
- Meet with Shiloh: 2h
Total Hours: 4h
Found some new references and listened to previous suggestions. Some new references include silent film soundtracks and a record by Miles. Also got an idea for soundtracks from L.A. Noire and some references Shiloh shared with me.
Shiloh and I shared some of the ideas we accumulated. We realized that we have separate visions for the soundtrack and had a much-needed conversation about our intentions with the music (i.e. musical form). We need to agree on a vision that doesn’t inhibit either of our abilities.
Enter the Murder Pentagon
The Piano Puzzle – it’s functional, it now just needs to be art-ed so it’s an actual puzzle and not a tech demo of a puzzle.
- Meetings: 1h
- Prototyping: 7h
- Troubleshooting: 2h
- Deliverables/Management: 30m
Total Hours: 10h30m
Positives: I got to have a little fun this week doing some reading about H.H. Holmes and starting to think about puzzle design. I got to pair coding and shader work with interaction design to put together a wall-moving piano puzzle with a punchcard system, which was very satistfying to see come together. I also had the opportunity to integrate Samara’s teleportation mechanism into that scene, and it’s been wonderful to watch this prototype come together.
On the team side, we had a wonderful meeting with grad student Jaleese Blanding-Coates, who showed us a VR space she was working on. I had the opportunity to step into VR, see what worked and what didn’t, and gain a sense of space. (I also took the opportunity to feed my inner research nerd and ask her a bunch of questions about her work.) We also had an incredibly productive meeting with Professor Rob Lloyd, who advised us on theming and experience design and offered direction on how to go about designing good puzzles.
Negatives: Things broke (again). My implementation of Shadergraph-compatible shaders briefly broke our project’s Oculus compatibility. And it took us a good 2 hours of work and a full night’s sleep to figure it out. (So much Googling. So many forums.) Additionally, it’s been a lot chasing down little deliverables and getting last-minute administrative tasks (adding folks to the Hacknplan, WordPress memberships, etc.) done. It was so nice to have some time this week to just sit down and be in the project, and I’m hoping in future weeks I can do more of that instead of getting bogged down by too much paperwork and administration.
We’ve also decided to go with Oculus SDK rather than VRTK for our interaction development, and that decision required a great deal of cleanup and Github pain. It also meant reworking the way I’d been approaching testing, as I had to accommodate for not having VR hands when I wanted to test.
- Finalize single room greybox prototype
- Oversee GDD overhaul
- Construct Gantt chart with Sydney
- Meeting with Jaleese Blanding-Coates: 2h
- Character Thumbnails and Gothic Fashion Research: 1h
- VR Scene and Hardware Debugging: 5 hr
- VR Hands Scene Grabbables Development: 2 hr
Total Hours: 9hr
Positives: This week the rest of the team and I had an amazing meeting with Jaleese Blanding-Coates, a Drexel Grad student currently making a VR game, and were able to demo her work, as well as talk to her in depth about the problems she was having with development, how to fix them, how she was approaching things like motion sickness and locomotion controls, how long each part of her development was taking, and more. She was an amazing resource for moving forward, and we got her contact for future demos. Using the Oculus Avatar SDK, I was able to get hand presence and finger motions implemented this week, as well as grabbing, throwing, etc. I also did some character thumbnail sketches to get a feel for what mix of gothic fashion and robotics we want in our characters.
Negatives: The bad came from development and hardware bugs. Unity not recognizing oculus apps, the oculus playing audio only and no video, SDKs in the project overlapping and throwing a billion errors, things like that. I also got a new laptop that can run VR so I can test on my own, which is a major “good”, but also bad because of initial setup bugs and admin problems needing to be smoothed out. Luckily most of these bugs got fixed Monday night, so the next week of development should be a lot more straightforward, fixing bugs in what we made instead of bugs in the hardware.
- More expansive hands interactions
- Murderboard Prototype
- Preparation of Week 6 Deliverables
- More testing and prototyping in VR
- More solidified concept art