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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Lanterns Playtesting Party (Oculus Launchpad Week 10)

Invited friends over to demo the game today!  They got to try out the start screen and the beginning section in the cave.  I'd designed for a seated experience, so when they went to light the lanterns which were close to the ground, some of them tried to reach down without crouching, missing entirely!  We definitely noticed little things that can be improved!



This week has been super productive, and it's exciting!  The start screen has been sorted out with gaze-triggered events to start and exit the game.  I decided to focus more on designing and capturing the mood and lighting of the scenes, over detailed modeling and texturing environments.

Here's the starting zone with a distant gate and some old shrine rocks.  The light-emitting rock was really effective in drawing in the player to looking at it!  It'll definitely be used in more places in the game.



My programmer teammates have been working on getting the boat pathing to move smoothly, and on creating a system to let the lanterns follow the boat in a beautiful way.  The boat's movement can now be activated and deactivated by the player!  

We had a lot of fun working together this week, and tossed around the idea of meeting up in the future to do an in-person jam.



Looking forward to the last couple weeks of development (and a short break for PAX)!  We have the plan for the story arc for the demo locked down, with very clear interactions that will be demonstrated.  Onwards, to continue building!

Andrew

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lanterns Building (Oculus Launchpad Week 9)

Started building a lot of stuff this week!  Went into blender and built out a boat and a torch for the player to use, and then put it into Unity!  I had a lot of fun seeing things come together in the game engine.  The OVRCameraRig was easy to get started with.  And then testing my scenes out with the oculus rift was awesome!  Getting one has sped up development a lot, because the game can be tested immediately!

Most exciting part of this week was getting the water to animate !

The Oculus feedback for the demos have been super helpful.  Reviewing the notes for last Friday's conference call, too!  I've been keeping the advice in mind while working.

Here's a screenshot of the start screen area: 
And of the first section in chapter 1:


Andrew

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lanterns Teamwork (Oculus Launchpad Week 8)


This week a couple of my friends pitched in to help with the programming side of the project.  As developers with experience in VR, they listened to the lanterns idea and then expanded on it with great insight and ideas!  One of those great ideas was to add a physics-based interaction into the game, a torch that will let the player feel like they're touching the lanterns.  

I'm really excited to try out this new idea in the Oculus.  With a team I have also found the need to narrow down and express my ideas coherently, instead of having a nebulous concept in my head that is only explored when I'm creating the art and models.  I've started on a 'user story', intended to guide the team towards creating the magic of lanterns.

Here's a snippet:
" You start in a cave.  It's dark and you can't see very much.  Looking around, there's a torch, which you pick up, and an unlit lantern to the side of your boat.  Striking the torch against the lantern lights it.  It ignites and comes to life.

You're in a boat, moving slowly forward.  As you exit the cave, your view opens up to the river.  There's many more lanterns strewn across the water.  You lean gently left and right, lighting the lanterns along the way.  They spring to life and dance across the sky."

Andrew

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lantern Models 2 (Oculus Launchpad Week 7)


Put together a model of a lantern this weekend, and also got the Unity project building to the Gear VR.  Celebrating this minor success!  



It's a completely different feeling viewing this inside of the headset!

I had to tackle a lot of 3D processes, such as how to make a skybox, model, and texture.  The lanterns, and eventually the level itself, are being created in Blender.  I'm amazed at the in-VR-art that others are creating, it really adds that hand-crafted feel!  My quest to try out Quill on the Oculus begins!




Lighting the lanterns has also been a bit challenging, especially when it comes down to the minute changes in each setting.  Preliminary lights on the lantern had me put 5 spotlights on each one to light every side (including the inside).

Progress has been made!  My goal for this demo is to build out a prototype of the first chapter, and have lots of great interactions with the boat and lanterns for the player to act out!  Getting the blocky outline of the starting area gave me a better idea of how large of a space the boat is going to move through.



Given the speed of the boat (it's going to move very, very slowly), it'll be a couple minutes of gameplay.

Andrew

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lantern Cut/Scenes (Oculus Launchpad Week 6)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!)
Wrapped up summer camps this week!  I've started the Lanterns Unity project, but don't quite have content to show yet.  Programming and production will commence in earnest!  

I have been thinking a lot about how the game will present itself in its opening cutscene.  Watching Dunkirk this week I saw how important it is to keep the audience up to speed about what is happening.  It's not enough to assume that the viewer or player is familiar with the cultural traditions or history.  In Dunkirk, they included onscreen text to explain how dire the situation was during the war.  I would like to do a similar thing to explain what the purpose behind the lantern festivals are.

I've also considered the writing that will appear on the lanterns.  During lantern festivals, families will write messages to their deceased loved ones.  I'd like to include some of these messages--perhaps in a variety of different languages.  Another option I've been considering is to create messages in an fictional language, and have the players infer the meanings and stories behind each.  A game that did this well was Journey, where the story was presented with imagery, and not words.

Also, got to tour Sony San Mateo!  We checked out their Sound department and got inspired by the music (in Uncharted, Journey, etc).  So much detail and care was taken in getting the sound to evoke the right emotions. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lantern Models (Oculus Launchpad Week 5)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!)
I am taking time to review how to use Blender (been watching youtube videos), and start modelling the 3D assets needed for my game.  This week I created a basic model of the lantern, and the next step is to light it!  Modelling out the environment is daunting, I’ve never done such a large project before!

Playing with the Gear 360

On a side note:  I brought the Gear 360 out to a family gathering and snapped a bunch of pictures.  It was really fun to play with and I'm thinking about recording a biking video, or cat video with it.  The bike one would be a short and leisurely bike tour around my neighborhood.  I want to show off some of the interesting areas around the creeks and even go off the trail.

The cat video would have the camera strapped onto the back of a cat, and it would let us experience life from the perspective of a cat-- really close to the floor!  I'll have to figure out how to secure it properly as not to damage the camera, though!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lantern Colors (Oculus Launchpad Week 4)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!)

Found a little bit of time after work at Girls Make Games summer camps (had fun recording the classroom with the 360 camera, too!) to do these thumbnails for my project.  I tried to capture the mix of colors and feelings that would be in the game.




Next two weeks are looking super busy, too!  Won't have time to start development in Unity, yet, but I'll be thinking about starting basic modelling in Blender.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lantern Poem (Oculus Launchpad Week 3)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!)

Development on Lanterns will be slow this month, but I expect to catch up in August.

This week I've written the poem that will play out at the beginning of each chapter.

Lanterns

In the dusk of Autumn night,
The pale white moon glows ever bright.
Lantern flames begin to light;
Spirits visit and alight.

River

Trouble brews at the ford,
Catching us from moving foward.
A slicing wind strikes aboard.
Dying flames require ward


Flight

O lanterns won’t you float along?
Your kindled flames will crackle strong.
Lift our Spirits up on high,
To their homes in the sky.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Lantern Spaces (Oculus Launchpad Week 2)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!) 

Visual Style

Starting this week I will be developing the visual style of the Lanterns world.  There are three locations and they need to be distinct yet stylistically cohesive.  They are: The Village, The River, and The Sky.

The Village will be after sunset, golden, lit up by the flames of the lanterns.  It starts of rather dim, but as soon as the first lantern few lanterns are lit by the player, the entire riverside is crackling and glowing.  Some float along gracefully, while others struggle.  Every nearby lantern can be interacted with.  Sometimes the player will reveal the spirit being guided by it, or help nudge the lantern forward, or give it a little bobbing in the water.  As you ride away from the village some lanterns begin to rise out of the water.

The River will be dark and dangerous, winding, and sullen.  The wind tries to prevent your passage.  Lights get snuffed out, and the air becomes difficult to breathe.  The maze of trees begins to capture lanterns.  The lanterns in the air get stuck between the branches, and in the ones floating in the water get trapped by roots and stones.  The spirits reveal themselves in distress and call to the player for help.

The Sky will be bright, lofty, almost dreamlike.  The water in the sky is replaced by rolling clouds.  The boat still floats above but the sky is intensely bright and blue.  The sun glares upon the top of the clouds.  You can only tell the boat is moving because a restaurant with a dock gradually drifts closer.  I’m not exactly sure yet what will happen here, but the feeling I’m going for will be that of a sendoff and the last goodbye’s to these lanterns that have accompanied the player so closely during the game.

The Boat itself is also currently up in the air.  My initial sketches have it as a dingy one-person rowboat (without the need for rowing), such as the one used in by the monks in the film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, And Spring.  It’s unadorned, cramped, fragile, and solitary.  It’s old and well-worn--many trips have been made in it.

Transitional Spaces

I’ve also given some thought about the transitions between each section.  While one continuous boat ride sounds great on paper, I don’t think it would be engaging without good content to tie together the sections of play.   

The first method--the most building-intensive, would be to construct the entire river but make it interesting all the way through.  

The second method--animation-intensive, would be to create an abstract animation to safely skip the player between each segment.  They would still be be in the boat, but be pleasantly surprised to find themselves suddenly in a new space.  It could involve directing the players attention away from the world and enveloping their view, akin to a magic trick.

I’m leaning towards the second.  The focused attention during the transition could be a great tool to layer in additional narrative.  A poem or a letter to be read to clue in the player about the journey that they’re making.
Andrew Dang

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Lantern Sketches (Oculus Launchpad Week 1)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!)

Hello fellow creators!  I had super fun attending the Launchpad event and meeting with you all!  The weekend was much more than I could ask for, and the shared community was so supportive of everything VR.

While the project proposal exercise did help me come up with some core concepts that I would like to explore--mainly 'Meditation' and 'Boating', the mentor-ship and lunches and evening talks that I had with launchpad friends have inspired me to shift the perspective on my project to tell more personal and intimate story.

My goal with the project Lanterns, is share a cultural experience in an interactive VR game-- the Lantern Festivals!  I have been inspired by the lantern festivals of China, Japan, and just recently found out about the Rise Lantern festival in the Mojave.  These are gatherings where thousands of lanterns are released, into the sky or on water, and are meaningful in different ways to each culture.  I want to capture the awe of sitting in in the midst of a sea of lanterns!

My hope is to not go overboard on scoping the project, as creating in VR is still new, but there's so much to experiment with~

This week I did some conceptual drawings of the experience:



The plan is to still do a boat ride for the player, with consistent movement and some slight leaning control.  The lanterns will be released into the river alongside the player at the start, and the journey downstream will be interesting as some lanterns will need the player's help getting unstuck from natural obstacles!

The water lanterns eventually transcend into sky lanterns, and you will be taken on a spiritual journey into the clouds.



I'm really looking forward to creating this into a VR game, and following the progress of your projects, too!

Andrew Dang

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New DIY Standing Desk with IKEA parts


IKEA DIY Standing Desk (2017)

Parts:
FINNVARD trestle with shelf
BEKANT table top
CAPITA legs

Cost:
~200 USD

This is a standing desk design I put together back in March for the office.  The Finnvard trestles are adjustable height, and used in combination with your choice of Capita legs, will allow you to tune the desk to suit you.

I was also able to fit my large desktop PC on the floor going sideways (so the case window is in full view).

Build order:
- Put together both Finnvard trestles
- Attach the Capita legs to the Finnvard (the legs will be upside down)
- Adjust the height
- Lay the Bekant table top on top!

*Be careful about placing too much weight on the desk, as it is not supported by a cross beam.








DIY Standing Desk With IKEA Parts (update)

IKEA DIY Standing Desk (2012) 

Here's some new photos of my old standing desk, with a bigger desktop and more monitors!  I finally had the chance to upgrade my computer.  Another change I made was remove one of the bookshelf dividers to make a bit more room. 

This is a desk I had originally built in 2012, so some of the parts may be more difficult to find nowadays.





List of Parts and provided height:

2x EXPEDIT 2x2 Shelves (36")
1x VIKA AMON Table (1 3/8")
1x CAPITA Legs (set of 4) (8")


The desk totals to 43 3/8", but probably sits a little shorter as it digs into the carpet.

Old pics:


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Professorceress


Monday, January 23, 2017

SubVival - GGJ 2017 San Jose

This year I only got to spend a portion of my weekend on the game jam.  Luckily my team was understanding and found some ways for me to help out with 2D art.  We created a submarine survival game called SubVival.  Check it out here http://globalgamejam.org/2017/games/subvival

A map I put together for sonar:




Some art put together by our teammate Justin, with my sprites in the background!:




and a screenshot: