Digital media and games are rarely considered as a way of preservation and conservation. Up until recently games were seen as predominantly for entertainment, sometimes for education, but holistically they’re seen as a form of fun and relaxation. However, with the introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) and its continuous crawl to the mainstream, we are seeing more forms of “games” that don’t conform to the traditional idea of gaming. While researching for The ‘UOW Yellow House Project’, (which I hope to be contributing to as my project). I’m beginning to realise this project is more than “an open access 3D, immersive and interactive virtual reality (VR) gallery”, it could potentially be a new form of conservation, a digital form of preservation of a historical physical space. The Sydney terrace house set up by artist Martin Sharp in the 1970s as an experimental art space will, in a way, be preserved in a virtual reality.
At the moment, the costs for setting up a VR system to run and play games is quite expensive, as you need a decent gaming computer, which are around $1000 and then a system itself, such as the Oculus, which is close to another $1000. However, these technologies tend to slowly drop in costs as the technology improves (look at 3D printers).
In terms of making and designing levels for VR, or any digital games for that matter, costs can ultimately be very low with software such as Unreal Engine being freely available.
This notion of exploring places of history, or similarly, exploring times of historical significance brought several successful games to mind, such as Assassins Creed and L.A. noir, which this article covers.
However, it is quite clear that the Yellow House project is more of an attempt at exploring space and objects, rather than a certain time period and the surrounding action. There for it is extremely important to be comfortable and capable with using Unreal Engine, and thus I have been continuing my practice in using it.
I have yet to discuss exactly what I will be doing with Chris yet however, he pointed me in the direction of a massive YouTube playlist of Unreal Engine tutorials. So I have been watching a few at a time, then practicing these parts on practice designs (such as my own house), then rinse and repeat, aiming to constantly learn more while also just getting used to the game design engine.
I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing my own improvement in using Unreal Engine, while still very basic, I’m definitely getting used to the mechanics, for one, (thankfully) I have learned how to clone objects, WOO! At the moment I am having trouble with textures and scaling them. For example, trying to make bricks look actual brick sized, instead of huge slabs. From here, once I get textures down, I feel I should start experimenting with the lighting aspect of Unreal Engine. Furthermore, I’m not sure if it is just my inexperience or a flaw in the engine but the snapping feature definitely lacks functionality, at least for me, however a google search reveals it is a common problem. This could be problematic for placing a lot of objects and making precise adjustments.
Below are some screenshots of my second, slightly more serious attempt at building a structure. It is still super quick but I learnt how to scale textures, a concern I touched on above, and there’s a little more detail, hopefully an improvement on my original:
I feel like there’s more than just the conservation of things within virtual reality to an extent. I think it’d be fascinating to see how well an entire virtual museum could turn out. I dream that we could have something that would replicate the Holodeck and the way it could transform everything from gaming to visiting an art gallery or any world for that matter. But It’s super rad to see how far we’ve already dived into Oculus and virtual worlds not only for gaming but for the conservation of art and history too! Also pls give me tips on world scaling I’m definitely gonna need some for the CS map
Looks to be coming together pretty well, gives me hope for people like me who have still yet to dive into Unreal or any similar engine like Unity. I’m also intrigued by VR as a means of posterity and archiving. Being a literal ‘virtual’ reality, there’s a fantastic opportunity we have to preserve things like artworks and experiences that could be lost at some time. That said, the virtual depiction of things like places and artistic objects is easily arguable as nothing like the real thing and a second-rate way to experience actual ‘reality’.
Nonetheless, for something like fading-into-obscurity gallery, these projects can only help to maintain the legacy of such temporal things.
I extremely like the idea of trying out a VR set up in programs such as Unreal or Unity. In my project which at this stage is really ambitious since one part of it would take approximately two full weeks to render I would suggest that you allocate time in case the project comes across a major hurdle. For example in my project I’m currently looking at making a giant maelström which will act as the access point into the underwater world but looking at videos and talking to professionals that use Houdini (industry standard software for VFX) I have a better understanding of how to make it, but rendering it out and compositing it into the edit is going to be the hardest part.
I also like the idea that you want to focus on a historical era as there would be endless information about those periods which were used to make the games you mentioned, unfortunately being two precise with small details could bring even more problems. You only have to look at Team Bondi to see what could end up happening, they worked on L.A. Noire for seven years and tried to make all the cases correct to the letter and in the end the company went bankrupt and hadn’t paid their staff in months.
Unity and unreal engine are a powerful driver for beautiful graphics and aesthetically pleasing environments, the only limitations to using this engine is the hardware! I really like this idea of integrating the virtual reality into the engine, its brilliant actually, it gives users the ability to experience different places without being there. It’s essentially the next step from looking at photos or videos of a place. Seeing as this is going to be digitally recreated, this allows for more dimensions and mechanics other forms of media wouldn’t allow. If you’re doing an art gallery, perhaps the player could choose a specific artwork they want to look at and the game could show directions as to how to get to that artwork?! I feel if you are making it a game, with unreal engine and having a player be able to run around the space, there needs to be something that allows it to feel like a game! Even if it is something as small as walking up to the artwork pressing a button and seeing a caption with information about the different pieces!
Reblogged this on Matt Keats .