Play Environments AR Sketchbook

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This is where I intend to post some of the sketches and ideas I am developing for augmented reality games that encourage environmental awareness and activism. Can augmented reality games that alter our experience of 3-dimensional physical space make us more environmentally aware, especially at this critical moment of great environmental crisis and climate change? Can an augmented reality game cause a player to appreciate an embodied position within the environment and the cosmos? I am open to collaborators on this project and am interested in collaborating with scientists or citizen scientists who have insights to share or may wish to join forces. Also input from researchers of Augmented Reality, programmers, artists and/or from activist game designers would be welcome, especially those with experience with the Vuforia plug-in for Unity. Sponsorship would also be welcome–and I am considering opening a kick-starter campaign. In the past, my related environmental game design includes a small casual PC game called Colony Collapse Disorder to promote awareness about recent problems in bee and insect pollination…and I have a longer track record of using games for persuasive and/or experimental art purposes.

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Nailing down the game mechanics

Made progress today in nailing down the game mechanics further. Difficulty scaling is first of all affected by the shape of the river and # of blocks, the first level will be a simple curved river with one block, and later levels have more curves with additional blocks that have to be positioned the right way to direct shadows into the river to fill it with shadow so the boat can ride it to the safe harbor. (Are the blocks metaphorically like trees? Also filling a very curvy river incrementally could pose a programming challenge…)

The second difficulty factor is the other extreme of drought, the hail. When there is a hail storm (in later levels–the first will be just dry) and the hail touches a boat it damages the boat. You can swivel the blocks to protect and bounce off the giant hail balls–so the blocks serve a double function as shadow chanellers and hail defenders.

What could be a nice twist is that when one level is experiencing drought, another experiences hail (just like real climate change extremes in different parts of the globe)—but this would mean you would want to go back to levels you had already completed..not sure if that complicates the game progression too much.

Programming challenges I can forsee in Unity, even before I start to use Vuforia are:

1. Detecting when shadow is touching the river..I was sort of able to deduct this already from tracking the rotation position of the blocks but there were errors..

2. Incrementally darkening river when shadow is touching it. Trigger visibility of a darker river image? while keeping a river shadow “score” that triggers it? If score gets low, switch back to dry river image and boat can no longer move along river path..

3. Moving a boat along the river path and keeping it inside the harbor once it gets there.

Modelling Challenge:

The boat

blocks are just blocks?

Graphics Challenge:

Finding real? drought topographical maps and drawing fictional shadow rivers on them. From where? locally..(California) or global..