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Building Virtual Worlds


Fall 2019

Role: Sound Designer

Building Virtual Worlds is a class that is a part the of the first semester in the graduate program at the Entertainment Technology Center. The class divides students into groups of five where each team

has two programmers, two artists, and one sound designer. One person on the team functions also as the group's producer as well. The team is then given a simple constraint and asked to make a full game/virtual experience in a 2-3 week sprint on given piece of novel hardware (for example Occulus Rift, Leap Motion, 3D Rudder, Magic Leap, Jam-O-Drum, The CAVE, Makey Makey, Phidgets, HTC Vive, etc).

The class itself is powerful because it teaches interdisciplinary communication and fosters good teamwork skills while helping to build your portfolio quickly. At the beginning of the semester you pick a role that you want to focus on for the semester and I chose to be my teams's sound designer. Each round has its own story to tell.

Click a round below to see more about it.

(HTC Vive)

Role: Sound Designer

Baby Legs Title.png

Role: Producer, Sound Designer

(Magic Leap)

Operation Minefield Title.png

(Oculus Rift  + Leap Motion)

Role: Sound Designer

Oh My Cat! Title.png

(Oculus Rift)

Role: Producer, Sound Designer

Bedtime Title.png

(Makey Makey)

Role: Sound Designer

Co-opterpillar Title.png

Final: Festival

Once a year, the ETC holds a Festival, showcasing the work done by all the students during the semester. In total, about 80 projects were created from BVW this semester. There are about 12-14 available rooms to showcase team projects in, each displaying only one project, with the rare occasion of two. This meant that the process for what projects go into festival is very selective. The process involves paperwork, a popular class vote, and a jury selection. After the selection process, two of my projects made it into festival (Bedtime and Co-opterpillar).

Once a team has been selected for festival, they must theme the room they were assigned to according to their project. Any changes to room or the project itself must be done within one week.

During Festival, the students wear a shirt that represents our year's BVW class. The design is decided by a T-shirt design contest. This year, my shirt design won. I based this year's shirt design off my love of pixel art and 8-bit games. It was drawn in

BVW 2019 T-shirt

BVW 2019 T-Shirt Design

Designed by Me

Round 4: Bedtime

Due to the original design plan and the actual space we needed for our project, our project was only given half of a room for festival. While smaller than most project rooms, we had to be smart about what choices we wanted to make. 

Bedtime is a single player story driven experience, which meant that throughput was really low. Instead of trying to get everybody through the game as quickly as possible, we instead opted for letting everyone who didn't play, a chance to sit down in a sitting area and watch instead. This would be effective considering that the experience is the same every time.

The design plan was simple: recreate the child's room as much as we could given the constraints.

Bedtime - Festival Room -
Bedtime - Festival Room -

Reference Shots of Kid's Room

Final Shots of the Room

A lot of compromises had to be made for this set up, but I learned a lot in the process. One lesson learned was that the digital space is much easier to alter than the physical one. Because of time constraints, the posters on the wall were borrowed from another room instead of printing the ones that were in-game. We quickly learned that to fix that inconsistency problem, we simply changed the posters in-game to reflect the ones in the real world.

The other lesson I learned was that practicality should always come first. One of the big problems I had working to make this room was accuracy. At a glance, there are a lot of differences between reference and final. What I didn't know was that the guests were able to forgive a lot of the design inconsistencies because the space was built to accommodate them first. For example, the sound speaker in the back of the room took up a lot of space, but the fact that it delivered clear audio across the room outweighed it's aesthetic distraction. The same went for the seating area in front of the bed.

Bedtime - Festival Players.jpg

Overall, the setup was a success. The guests seem to really enjoy the story and the set up we made around it. The story seem to hit the hardest with parents, and kids thought the action parts of the game were fun too.

For this project we were assigned the lounge in our building. This room already has a preset arrangement of furniture, unlike the Bedtime room, which meant that we needed to put everything back after festival was over. Compared to Bedtime, Co-opterpillar's room design was a lot more open ended.

Co-opterpillar Festival Room - Before_2.
Co-opterpillar Festival Room - Before_1.

What the room looked like before festival

For this project we decided to theme our room to our jungle environment. We blocked the room into three areas: the line area, the play area, and the space to get a photo-op. We did this so that we a circular flow in the room.

Shots of the room during Festival

The main contributions I brought to this room were hanging various decorations from the ceiling, providing the lights to light up our photo-op spot, and coding the standalone program for our scoreboard

The room was an absolute success. Many people enjoyed our game during festival. The circular flow made clear direction for our guests and provided a clear place to wait in line. The photo-op spot was used by many people, especially since we provided hats with googly eyes for them to take pictures with. The scoreboard system worked well and was easy to manage. Overall, this was my favorite project to work on during BVW not only because of the fun game we made and shared, but also because of the great team I got to work with.

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