Monday, December 5, 2011

Building Virtual Worlds - Round 5 - Electro Techno Corps

The theme of Round 5 of Building Virtual Worlds is Its Showtime!  Students are given one month and are tasked with building a world that is big on showmanship and spectacle with the goal of being featured in the Building Virtual Worlds Show at the end of the semester.  Unlike previous rounds, students are permitted to form their own teams and pitch a concept to the professors or take the luck of the draw and be assigned to a random team like in previous rounds.  I was placed on a random team and the world we came up with was a giant robot themed game called Electro Techno Corps (a pun on ETC.)  The world is in the vein of saturday morning cartoons and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Three performers share two Wiimotes and two nunchucks to pilot a giant robot against a mad scientist whose giant creations run amok in the city.  The current video only has the game aspect of the world on display, if and when a version that also includes the live performers becomes available I will update this post. Update: a version with live performers is now online, check it out in this post!

Despite the large time frame, one of the major challenges of the round is time management and proper scoping of the project.  Many teams reached too far and ended up having to scale way back or start over completely around the halfway point in the round.  My team just barely managed to finish our world based on our original plan, which was way too close for comfort.  I wish we would have cut one of the events early on and spent more time on polish, playtesting, and fine tuning, but thankfully everything worked out in the end.

One of the more interesting aspects of the project was using CityEngine to model the city rather than doing it by hand.  Our texture artist, Anisha Deshmane, spent a lot of time in undergrad working with CityEngine and we were able to get the city modeled, exported to 3DSMax, trimmed down, and imported into Unity in under 2 days!  It saved us a lot of time and effort and looked great in game, which let us spend more time and effort on other aspects of the project.

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