Thesis Project: Dream City – Virtual Reality

INTRODUCTION

Virtual Reality shows great promise as a vehicle for interactive and immersive problem solving. In particular, it has great utility for envisioning hypothetical scenarios at any scale, from atomic to communal and beyond.

The Problem

It is a common scenario for an architect to enter a building for the first time and the space does not quite match the vision of his or her design. However beautiful a static rendered image may be, traditional design visualization can only convey so much, even when the scene is rendered at eye level with furniture for scale.

The sensation of actually being inside a building makes VR an incredibly powerful tool for communicating design intent. Clients, in particular, often don’t have the ability to understand spatial relationships and scale simply by looking at a 2D plan or static 3D model. VR can envoke a visceral response in exactly the same way that physical architecture can.

My Prototype

My project provides the user with the intuitive experience of navigating around a city. A city was chosen instead of the inside of a building for this prototype as I am not an architect/interior designer! However, the interaction and design principles remain consistent. Starting with a bird’s eye view, the user simply reaches out to the animated floating hotspot targets, press esthe trigger buttons and flies to target location.

The VR can play an important role at all stages of the design-to-construction process, from evaluating design options and showcasing proposals, to ironing out errors and correcting construction and serviceability issues before breaking ground on site.

Using VR to experience how a space will feel and function can take design to a whole new level. Architects can exist inside their designs, encouraging bold new ideas and more iteration: add design/review into the mix for optimizing the design or reduce error and VR gives a whole new meaning to virtual prototyping.

Target Users

The project mainly targets architects and civil engineers but constructors, realtors, buyers, retailers, and tourists will also find the product beneficial.

Competitive Analysis

WorldViz has amazing VR technology and doing similar to what I am trying to complete. They can project the 3D environment into any space and allow users to interact with them.  (https://www.worldviz.com/virtual-reality-projection-system)

Soluis Group, an immersive visualization company based in London, has created a VR dome – there is no need for HMD(head-mount device) to have an amazing VR experience. (https://vimeo.com/135562371)

The biggest differentiation I want is in simplicity of use for both client and provider, with a secondary priority of affordability for broad adoption. Google Cardboard is the most accessible means for VR mobile applications on any smartphone.

 

THESIS DOCUMENTATION 

Documentation Link

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THE GAME PLAN

 

Scope Of Technology

Unity – the major tool to build my city and interactive components.

Assets Store – The resource for my 3D building models.

Google DayDream SDK – Virtual Reality Engine supports Android and iOS platforms.

Prototype

Gameplay description

Dream City is one player exploring a 3D landscape while choosing various hotspots in this virtual world.  It gives the player a 1:1 to the real size scale of the world portion experience wandering around the dreamland.

Goal

The goal of the game is for a player to explore and experience the real world size virtual space with an immersive feeling.

Design values

Experience: Dream City is one player exploring the landscape with numbers of hotspots. The player can choose three level colored hotspot

Theme: City Tour! exploring the landscape, appreciate architecture and city view.

Point of view: A three-dimensional environment, a simulation of a city landscape with much different height of buildings. It divides into high, middle and ground-level views. In the beginning, the player will start from a corner of the highest building, then he/she can choose a hotspot to transfer to another viewpoint.

Challenge: The hotspot tag on the buildings might limit as some are blocked by the buildings in this viewpoint, so the player has to move to a certain angle passing the blocked building to approach the goal destination.

Decision-making: Decisions are made in real-time, with the view of the level or the location where the player is at, it creates a certain amount of buildings the player can travel to.  

Skill, strategy, chance, and uncertainty: Dream City requires less or no skill to play. It is simply a relaxing landscape tour game for the user wander around experience the vibe of this virtual world.

Context: The game is played in a 3D environment with hotspots enabling transport site to site.

Emotions: Dream City is meant to generate the feeling of relaxing, curious and adventurous.

Basic elements

Players: One player as POV to explore the world.

Ground: Horizontal flat ground

Architectures: Main components on the ground with different styles and heights

Road: Includes pedestrian

Hotspot: A bubble looks with a pointy bottom. It has minimum animation floating up and down giving the player a cue that it’s an interactive object.

(Other elements considering: map, compass, river(animation), tree, road lights, fairy wheel(animation), etc.)

Interface and controls

Controls: The player can click on the hotspot and transport it to the selected hotspot view. Numbers of the hotspot can choose depends on the view and level the player is at.

The screen: a Full scoop of the city at the beginning then start at the highest point of a building from the corner of the city. Later, according to the specific position, it limits the view as in the real world. (Consider having a 2D flat map for the player understanding the position he/she is in this virtual world).

Game flow:

DreamCityGameFlowChart

(There are two ways to end this game – either the player reached all spot or the player reaches 2mins game time.)

Art direction: Cartoony, simple coloring blocks (It might be a detailed 3D object if I purchase on asset store)

Technical overview: Mimic Google Street View logic

VR City

 

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