VR Game "Jede Dose zählt" (2017)
This roomscale VR project was a throwing game intended to raise awareness for aluminum soda can recycling. It could be experienced on several events during the summer of 2017. The players had two minutes to put as many virtual soda cans as possible in more and more challenging arrays of trash bins.
I was tasked with the creation of the graphical assets consisting of gameplay elements, the immediate play area and the entire environment. As the player was not able to move more than 1 meter away from the starting position, I knew exactly how detailed each element in the scene had the be to hold up to the visual requirements. This was especially important as the clients request was to go for photorealism. Therefore the utilization of photogrammetry (or photoscanning) made sense, at least initially. We agreed on a famous square in the center of Vienna, the Schwarzenbergplatz, to serve as backdrop for the game. So my colleagues went out and took A LOT of photographs on site which were then wrangled through Capturing Reality resulting in massive, cumbersome 3D point clouds. There were a lot of pitfalls and challenges to overcome with this fairly new approach (new at least for realtime applications). A lot of ideas and approaches went to the bin as there was no efficient way to convert, optimize and texture those point cloids to work well within Unreal. We stuck with photoscans for the buildings only, which worked well as they were at least 50m away from the player. The low-poly retopology of the buildings in combination with a single, unlit color map (including an alpha) was sufficient in that case.
For elements that were closer to the player, a different route had to be taken. As the dedicated machine the game was running on was quite powerful, polycount and texture memory were not really an issue. Therefore I had more flexibility in choosing the right 3D models for the scene from different sources. The cars, foliage and most other props are purchased models. In some instances I had to reduce the polycount a bit. Unfortunately I was held up by the tedious task of fixing geometry as clean, non-overlapping unwraps were not possible in many cases. And this was a necessity because I wanted to go full PBR with all materials as this workflow offers a somewhat realistic look fairly quickly and it is already deeply embedded in Unreal. For the creation of the PBR texture sets I used Substance Painter in combination with Allegorithmics Source database. This way I was able to create the 40+ unique texture sets for the entire scene all by myself within a reasonable timeframe. More care went into the creation of the hero assets, the trash bin and the soda can, as they were very close to the player and also occurred in higher numbers. Highpoly models were provided by the client but had to be optimized, UVd, textured and, in case of the bin, rigged and animated as well.
On top of that, I was also responsible for designing the game itself! The goal was to come up with an easy to pick up game that gradually becomes more and more challenging without frustrating the player. As VR is still a new technology, the game had to be fun for everyone, newcomers and VR aficionados alike. I worked closely with an experienced developer who handled the programming side of the game and after a few iterations, lots of testing (sore arms included) and luckily no broken screens, we had a game at our hands where recycling suddenly was fun to do... who thought!
- Art Direction & Style Development
- Environment & Asset creation
- Materials & Textures
- Rigging & Animation
- Implementation in Unreal
- Game Design
- Unreal Engine 4
- Capturing Reality
- Substance Painter