Atelier IV: Blog Post #6

Project Rescope

Because of COVID-19 we have rescoped the project down from 6 scenes (Lobby, Beach, Temple, Mountain, Garden, and Sky) to 2 scenes (Lobby and Beach). We chose the Beach scene because we had all of our assets compiled (illustrations and sound) and we had our environment mostly ready. This was also the only scene which integrated 360 video. All that was left to do was link the objects to the sounds so the user could interact with them, and the trigger mechanism was one Shiloh had already scripted. We chose to try to include the Lobby as well because it is the starting point in our game from which the user can enter the Beach scene. 


Setting Up at Home

Since everyone is working from home now, the major difference is not having one unified build on the school computer and communicating via chat instead of in person. We have two team members with the Unity project set up, myself and Shiloh. My setup is not functional, however, because the edited 360 video won’t display properly (even though other footage works fine) and because I have a different headset, I can’t view the game through the headset. The communication is the biggest barrier in terms of working on the project, as none of us are online at the same time, and it’s difficult for the group to check in regularly if not everyone is active online.

Atelier IV: Blog Post #5

One aspect of this project that I’ve found particularly challenging and interesting is illustrating a 2D image for a 3D environment. One of the scenes we had envisioned was a mountain peak with the sun rising and setting over the horizon. After producing a few 360 storyboard sketches I was starting to get comfortable drawing in an equirectangular format, which, while warped in 2D, would look normal in a VR environment. Drawing the mountain scene was fairly simple because I had drawn several other scenes already, in varying degrees of detail. 


The challenge was animating the sunrise and sunset in the background of the mountain scene. Because the image needed to be drawn in a warped way in order to display normally in VR, I needed to figure out how the sun should be drawn in each frame. In Photoshop I created a new document where I mapped out the start and end positions for the sun, which were a quarter into the artboard from either side. From there I entered Photoshop’s 3D workspace and made a panorama from my layer, which allowed me to see the artboard as a 360 image.


I drew a series of circles from the horizon line to the “noon” position and exported that back to a 2D image. This acted as a guide for how to warp the sun’s shape in each frame.


While the sun was near the horizontal middle of the artboard (the horizon line) it could be drawn as a circle. As it neared the edges of the artboard, however, it needed to become increasingly stretched horizontally. In order to create a circular sun directly above the user (to represent noon) the 2D image needed to be a rectangle that stretched across the entire artboard. 


As a 2D image you can hardly imagine this resembling a sunrise / sunset. The degree of warp, especially the rectangle at the top of the artboard, don’t seem like they could look circular in a different format. Trying to visualize the sun in this way while I was drawing the frames for the animation was a little mind-twisting. However, the results looked just the way I wanted them to in the 360 space.

screenshot-80 screenshot-81

Atelier IV: Blog Post #4

Notes from Class

Game breakdown:

  • Rules
  • Worlds
  • Player 

What is the player experience in VR?

We expect game space to tell us what to do 

Games are a series of actions – what is the core action of your game?

  • To relax is a goal, not an action
  • Not just interacting with an interface 

Key components for flow:

  • Clear goals 
  • No distractions 
  • Direct feedback
  • Continuously challenging 

What are the objectives? How will the player know how to succeed in each game-chunk?


  • Active or passive consumption of media 
  • Linear story vs ludic – how do they blend?
  • Keeping interactions meaningful
  • Video should include essential information, neither video nor interaction should be gimmicky
  • What drives the interaction and what does the interaction drive?
  • Meaningful to the idea, the player, etc.
  • How in control of your experience are you?

Guided Meditation VR


360 Video Trailer:

User Experience / Interaction:

  • Offers different lengths of guided meditation
  • Different kinds of guided meditation (“zen”, “heartfulness”, etc.)
  • Option of walking through the scenery
  • Option of listening to the radio
  • “Motion Mode” slideshows through the different sceneries 
  • Gear VR version included heart-rate monitor, was removed due to regulations about biometric data

Blending Media:

Mostly CG, though the skies seem like possible 360 video.

Storytelling / Gameplay:

Using quotes in the sky, similar to our night sky / allen gardens idea. More interactive if the words appear only when the player looks in that direction of if the player can speak to choose the words displayed. 

Different locations to allow the player to “customize” their experience. This game offers 27 locations, mostly CG. 




User Experience / Interaction:

  • Use controllers to grab and throw paper airplanes, skip rocks
  • Offers one non-interactive meditation
  • Each experience is 30min long

Blending Media:

All CG, no obvious 360 video.

Three different locations (rooftop, japanese countryside, sunrise).

Storytelling / Gameplay: 

Two different mindful interactive activities and one non-interactive activity. The idea of using activities to encourage mindfulness is what we are trying to do as well. Storytelling through scenery and activity descriptions. Reviews say the scenery didn’t appear as shown in the video trailer.

Atelier IV: Blog Post #3


  • Spatial audio: mixing voice-overs and ambient sounds in different scenes 
  • How do we get 360 footage without movement? (360 image)
  • Edits to 360 video? Stabilization probably not necessary since we’re not moving, do we want to embed text or other assets into the video?
    • VR Comp Editor After Effects


Work Time:

  • How can we dive deeper into our “mini-games”?
  • Yoga without user body feedback won’t be very effective, focus on interactions that don’t involve the entire body
  • Key aspects of mindfulness: no distractions, deep breathing, self-awareness / emotional awareness, gratitude / positive thinking
  • Feedback: 
    • Focus on one mini-game and really develop the idea or keep diverse mini-games that are a little simpler? 
    • Use controllers for some interactions or not at all? What are the pros and cons of the controllers?
    • Sound and gaze-based interaction should be emphasized if we choose not to use controllers

Atelier IV: Blog Post #2

Our main objective in this class was to test out our preliminary VR scene and gaze-triggered buttons. While Shiloh and Denzel set up the scene with the headset, Tyra and I started doing some motion capture of yoga sequences. The MOCAP suit didn’t allow for a realistic replication of my yoga sequence so we decided to source some yoga MOCAP data. We tested out the VR scene with 360 video footage that Shiloh found as well as my 360 sketches of scenes we plan to record later on. Despite the simplicity of the sketches, they didn’t look too bad through the VR headset. We decided to consider adding an entirely illustrated scene to our project, as well as possibly an entirely 3D-modelled scene. Something important to consider when we are creating or recording our 360 scenes is the concept of place illusion, which Hector talked about in the tutorial. With the gaze-based control the controllers become unnecessary, which will help the technology be less of a barrier between the user and the illusion. The future recordings of 360 video will likely be more effective in “transporting” the user than the created scenes, so if we 3D model or illustrate a 360 scene we have to consider how the user will feel once in the scene. We want to make sure the user isn’t disoriented and prevent the user from feeling boxed in. While testing out one of my existing 360 sketches, the night sky, I found that the sky felt much too close to me, which made the scene a little constricting. However, I believe this can be prevented by adjusting the perspective of the drawing and appropriately illustrate distance.

Atelier IV: Blog Post #1

Building Experience – Blocks by Google 

Blocks by Google is a good starter experience for VR building. The tools are clearly laid out and even without a tutorial within a few minutes I was able to create different kinds of shapes, modify them, and paint different areas in different colours. At first modelling in VR was a little odd and I had to get accustomed to the new virtual space. Using the stroke tool, however, was very intuitive. Though this time I made a nonsensical sculpture, I can see how Blocks could be used to create fully thought-out 3D models. It was very simply to get the object saved (FBX) and imported into Unity. 


Game Experience – Notes on Blindness

Notes on Blindness was a very comfortable VR experience. I was seated and for the most part a passive viewer, though later in the game there was some interaction. What I liked about Notes on Blindness is how sound was used to encourage the player to look around. Also later when the player can create wind which in turn creates scenery to look at, the little interaction made the experience more solid and engaging. I find it a very interesting use of VR, since VR is a very visual medium, to demonstrate blindness. It was quite sound-dominant, but the particle effect on the surrounding objects and people complemented the audio and the theme of experiencing blindness very well. 


360 Video Experience – 700 Sharks

700 Sharks (found on Within) allowed you to feel as though you dove underwater and saw a group of sharks eating and being tagged by divers. The way is was shot was quite well done, not only was the perspective appropriate (I didn’t feel too big or too small) but the actors/other divers made “eye-contact” and spoke in my direction. While underwater, most of the surroundings were black but some areas were illuminated by a lamp the divers had, which I thought was a good use of the 360 video without being too artificial. Had I been able to clearly see all around me it may have been difficult to know where to focus and it would not have seemed as realistic. There was not a lot of camera movement which made the experience mostly comfortable. I found it amusing that when the sharks attacked a fish “underneath” me, I instinctively pulled my feet under my chair.

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