Thursday, 6 November 2014

This weeks tasks - READING!

In short, I have been doing research and will be reading a whole lot more! We got our required documentation from our mentor on Tuesday!

This is awesome since we can now start working through it and start brainstorming some ideas, designs or prototypes.  Well I say we, I am not really the creative one in the team! :D I'll be focusing on prototypes, studying scripts and wrappers personally.

Thus far I know the project will probably deal with space exploration, probing and the planet Neptune! Not much but I am still working my way through the documentation.

I am also going to be messing around with 360 controllers in Unity (Note to self, see OVRGamepadController in Oculus SDK). I've never tried implementing peripherals other than mouse and keyboard before (apart from one Android app). So this should be a cool learning opportunity.

I do still need to contact Uni games lab staff to book the Oculus, or see how to go about using it. I managed to grab an email off of one of our helpful lecturers and now I have a contact at least! Progress!

The team made mention of Morpheus, a Sony based VR system similar to oculus rift, but made for Vita and Playstation4 (Link for some info here). I am still looking into this, but I have never developed for a console before. I have a lot of experience using PS2/3 devkits from my previous employment but more running software on them than developing on them. 

Unfortunately as this is my first module, I have not been exposed to Sony tools just yet, and given our January deadline, I am hesitant to learn a new development environment along with new hardware (VR). Granted Unity is very plug and play but it frees me up to learn about the Oculus quirks and developing for VR. I do not know if I'd have enough time to learn both parts (Dev environment and hardware). But I am still looking into things! Never say never!

Our group also spoke about the purpose of our simulation prototype, and it became apparent that using Oculus rift may be tricky in an expo setting. As our target audience are young, potentially self conscious A-level students we would need to ensure that they would be interested in using a system like this. Additionally, the extra cost of the oculus hardware could be a negative for the University when using the system? And finally, if the system is Oculus only, what will the draw be for people who are walking past the simulation? As seen in my previous posts screenshot, seeing a game in stereoscopic view without VR isn't very pretty!

So with that in mind I am also working on a potential technical solution to this. For example having a smaller aspect of the simulation run on a standard screen, which could act as a draw. Or maybe giving the users of the simulation a choice (VR or non VR). 

Or messing with the camera's to make the oculus stereoscopic and a display normal. I might be able to do something here, I will need to read and understand the OVRCameraController script to see what will be possible. (Note to self - see also Direct-Mode in OculusUnityIntegration document).

A summary of my tasks for this week are:
  • Currently reading through the Project document we got from Dr.Claus - it's pretty interesting!
  • Contacting personnel to find out about booking the Oculus
  • Looking into using 360 Controllers in Unity
  • Looking into Project Morpheus as a potential alternative (so far it doesn't look that way as I have no experience developing on consoles. But ill keep looking into it as time permits!)
  • Get in touch with Kingston College staff in case we need access to A-level students for our (UX) design guys
  • Working to tweak the camera's in a demo project so that we can offer two different views (basic and 'oculus mode') to users if we need too