Category Archives: Development

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Well, it’s Spring, so I suppose I should clean out my backlog of things that I should have posted since my birthday. Here’s a quick preview of the stuff I’ll be writing about soon. I’m not going to bother with pictures in this post, since it’s just a preview.

Cartoon Network Game Jam

First of all, the week after my birthday I participated in the Cartoon Network Game Jam in Portland. This kind of derailed my blogging, since I wanted to post about it but wasn’t sure if I could legally. Since Cartoon Network posted about it here: JAMMIN’ WITH OK, K.O.!, I suppose it’s OK for me to post about it now. In fact, the finalists are going to be announced this Sunday (5/1) and the winner will be announced next week.

Game Releases

I did post about my game releases, briefly. I’ll post more about some of the implementation and update details. I suppose it’s mainly for my records, but it may be interesting to somebody else as well.

I made a decision to release the games with the basic gameplay remade in VR, and as close to the functionality of the arcade games as I could get. So, basically they have all of the features, save high scores locally, are fully functional, and will always be free.

I’ll be doing some small updates to all of them to add analytics, extra controller support, and some other minor fixes and tweaks. I even added a leaderboard and achievements for VR Battletank on Android. I’ll be adding them to the other games soon.

After getting the basic framework done, I’ll be adding enhanced content to each of them as time allows.

Pipeworks Labs

The main reason that I’ve been slow to update my games and make blog posts is because I started a year-long project at Pipeworks new division, Pipeworks Labs, in March.

It’s a therapeutic VR project, which means it’s not technically a game. The great thing is that Pipeworks is cool enough to not have a non-compete clause,  so I’ll still be able to work on my own projects during my spare time.

Oculus Rift

The consumer version of the Oculus Rift finally started shipping at the end of March. I got mine the first week, and it’s awesome. I’ve played several games and experiences, and I’ll go into more detail in a later post. The game I’ve played the most so far is Elite Dangerous. I bought a Thrustmaster Flight Stick for this game, and it’s been a blast. I’ve played over 20 hours so far, and I think I’ve accomplished 2 or 3 tasks. I still don’t have much of clue what I’m doing, but it’s so fun flying around I don’t really care yet.

Oregon Game Project Challenge

I spent a day up in Salem last Saturday being a judge for the OGPC 9.0. I was a Game Design judge for several game projects that were made by teams of High School, and some Middle School, students. It was quite impressive to see what these kids came up with, and I’ll point out some of the stuff that stood out to me.

I’ll be pestering you with social media posts soon enough. In the meantime, go play my games:

VR Meteors

VR Missile Control

VR Battletank

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I Found A Laprechaun!

I Found A Laprechaun!

I did it! I finally found a laptop that runs VR! It’s like a leprechaun laptop, which for the purposes of this blog post I’m calling a laprechaun. I actually found a leprechaun a few years ago, and it was harder to find a laptop that ran VR. So, I’m understating it a little.Leprechaun

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71

It’s an ASUS ROG (Republic Of Gamers) laptop, which is marketed as a gaming laptop. Whatever they want to call it, it actually runs the latest version of the Oculus software (0.8). Of course, it may be disabled by the final version of the software. But I won’t have that until March at the earliest, and by then my desktop will be able to run the Rift. That means it’s time to get back to work on the games. As a pleasant, color-coordinated coincidence, the red lights on the laptop match the ridiculous case for my desktop. So, it looks like I planned it.

New Year’s Resolution

I suppose I can count this as a new year’s resolution, even if it’s only for this month. I have a few weeks until my next contract gig (so far), so I’m planning on getting Oculus, Gear VR, and Cardboard versions of VR Meteors, VR Missile Control, and VR Discs Of Golf done by the end of the month. That sounds like plenty to do for the next few weeks.

Gear VR Motivation

I feel like I finally have some true motivation to get the Gear VR builds working, since I don’t have a way to play them yet. My girlfriend’s dad has a Galaxy S6 phone, so of course we got him a Gear VR for Christmas. Now I need to get some arcade remakes done so that he has something to play. I suppose he’ll be able to add “Video Game Tester” to his resume as well. As long as I make them fun enough to play, that is.

SO MANY GAMES!

The main problem with having a new computer is the overwhelming urge to play all of the new games that wouldn’t run on your old machine, instead of working. I’ve actually spent the past couple days playing Dishonored, which came out 3 years ago. So, I haven’t exactly taxed the computer yet. If you are a fan of the System Shock, Deus Ex, and Bioshock games, you should definitely check it out. One of the directors and writers is Harvey Smith, who worked with Warren Spector on System Shock, and the first two Deus Ex games. You can tell, in a good way. I’ll leave it at that.

I suppose Rise Of The Tomb Raider will probably be the first true test. It comes out on 1/28, just in time for my birthday. (I know what I’ll be getting for myself.) I have my fingers crossed that it’ll support stereoscopic 3D as well as the previous Tomb Raider game. That was easily the best 3D experience I’ve had with any media. That’s including Avatar and Pacific Rim, so you know I’m serious. I’m also looking forward to Dishonored 2 now.

I suspect I’ll be posting more updates this month as well, since I’ll actually be doing stuff. We’ll see…

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VR Meteors Out Now!

VR Meteors Out Now!

VR Meteors Title ScreenHey, want to play VR Meteors? Damn right you do! It’s available to download from the Oculus Share site now. Get it here:

VR Meteors On Oculus Share

This is the first releasable version, meaning that the game is basically playable and there aren’t broken things hanging around. Original audio by: Mike Jones Audio. Replacing the arcade sound effects was the main reason I hadn’t released this sooner. There are still a few things that need to be implemented, such as:

  • Online leaderboards (and saving high scores between sessions)
  • More robust and configurable input settings
  • Audio volume settings

Also, now that I’ve got the basics in place, it’s time to start working on making things look and sound better. I’ll be starting to add better art, since my art skills have improved a bit since I first made the existing models. I also have a better understanding of materials and shaders, so I will try to get a decent outline mode working. I’m also going to implement the Oculus audio spatializer for 3D audio positioning.

Regarding VR Meteors for Google Cardboard and Gear VR, I broke the Android rendering when I cleaned up some of my code and shaders. So, I will be working on Android-specific materials as well. I also want to add different control modes to support single-button play, and sitting/standing options for camera movement. I’ve played around with these various options already, so it’s a matter of choosing good defaults and adding options to the menus. Still plenty to do.

What’s Been Taking So Damn Long?

I submitted this build to Oculus a few weeks ago, and it just got approved. So, you may be wondering what I’ve been doing in the meantime. Well, I’ve been doing some more contract work for Pipeworks and ordering parts to build a new computer. Oh yeah, and spending some holiday time with friends and family.

After submitting VR Discs Of Golf for the Leap Motion 3D Jam, I had the opportunity to try it out on a modern PC. Wow! It became readily apparent that the issues I was having with the Leap Motion controller and Oculus Rift were due to my aging computer. Turns out that a Intel Core 2 Duo and Radeon 5700 from several years ago is just not going to cut it for VR.

I spent a bit of time trying, and failing, to get the latest Oculus drivers to work with my laptop. I figured that would be a stopgap solution, but it was not to be. When Oculus removed the extended mode rendering in runtime 0.7, it basically broke laptop VR for almost everybody. The new direct mode rendering requires support from the graphics drivers. The issue comes down to most laptops using an integrated Intel graphics chip that is directly wired to the screen and HDMI port, and not being able to bypass that pipeline to render to the VR headset. On a desktop computer, the HDMI ports are directly on the graphics card, so the drivers are able to support VR without having to interact with any integrated graphics chip that is in the way.

Welcome To 2015

With the laptop solution being ruled out, it became clear that it was time for a new computer. Fortunately, a friend of mine had gotten me a discount on a motherboard and CPU just before I was laid off in the spring, so I already had the important parts. With the power supply and memory getting here this week, I should be up and running very soon. I’ll still be using an older graphics card for now, and will wait to update that until I can get the consumer version of the rift. That way I’ll be able to get the best performance for the money.

With better understanding of the laptop situation, I may even return the behemoth I ended up getting for something that doesn’t weigh as much as a gallon of water. Since I can’t run VR on it, I’ll just be using it to work while traveling, and building to Android for testing.

As for my other projects, I still plan on getting some more tasks done by the end of the year:

Check back in a few weeks to see how I did.

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Say Hello To My Little Friends

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Well, what do you know? There’s another video featuring Buzz Monkey’s unreleased South Park game with more footage and info. This post is pretty much just to embed a playlist of all of the videos that have been put together for this project. The guy who actually owns the Xbox was able to get to more of the features in the build and seemed to play around quite a bit more than the video that was posted a couple months ago.

Look What I Found

I’m also going to post a few images that I found for anybody who is interested. This first one was a mockup that was made for a demo DVD that we burned.

Say Hello To My Little Friends

Here’s a rendered image of the boys that were on some other box mockups. I still think the artists did an amazing job of modeling the characters in 3D.

Characters_Final

Roll The Clips

Here’s the playlist of all the videos about the cancelled game, with the new video at the start:

And here’s a bonus clip of a Happy Feet demo that we did as well, which was on the dev kit with the South Park game:

What Could Have Been

And for anybody reading this far, have a colored map of South Park with every location in the town through season 8:

SouthPark_Final

If any more videos or information come out, I’ll make sure to post another update and add them to the playlist above. I may even post some more art and stuff as I dig through my backups and find stuff worth sharing. Sweet!

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Bang The Chains!

Bang The Chains!

I’ve uploaded the final submission of VR Discs Of Golf to the Leap Motion 3D Jam. It’s probably not super applicable to you if you don’t have an Oculus Rift and Leap Motion controller, but I’ll be adding gamepad controls, Cardboard, and non-VR support after the 3D Jam so that everyone can play it.

Screenshot6

You can download it and vote for it here: VR Discs Of Golf submission page

Lessons Learned

It was a pretty fun project, and I learned quite a bit from it. Plus, I got to write some custom physics code for the discs. I’ll go ahead and dump whatever I can remember right now into this post for posterity.

“Free” Hardware

When I first heard about this 3D Jam just over a month ago, I was told that anybody who submitted a project would receive the Leap Motion controller for free. If I only consider the $80 cost, then I easily made less than 69¢ an hour. Of course, having a playable game is a much bigger payoff than the hardware.

I had decided to make a disc golf game while I was reading about the hardware, since I know a bunch of avid disc golfers and hadn’t really seen many disc golf games before. Unfortunately, after I received the controller I realized that the hand positions for disc golf are pretty much the worst they can be for motion tracking. So, the controls are a bit simplified for now.

Custom Physics Code

This was easily the highlight of the project. I haven’t written custom physics code in several years and it was great to get back to it. I read quite a few papers about disc physics and pulled together the parts that were sensible. Being the internet, there are a bunch of people who like to talk a lot about things that they don’t actually understand. Ultimately, I found myself taking much of my model from a few research papers, which I came across in various articles.

I prioritized the various aspects of the physics model and focused on the lift/drag model and gyroscopic precession first, since they have the most influence and were the easiest to test. Due to the time limit, I didn’t get to the more subtle aspects; spin decay, instability, magnus force, variable moment of pressure, etc. The game feels pretty good though, so I’m happy with what I got in for the 3D Jam.

Simplified Controls

The Leap Motion controller is a small box with 2 IR cameras in it that can track hand positions within a couple feet. When mounted on the front of the Oculus Rift, it can track your hands as you move them around in front of your face. Due to the angle that the cameras are facing, when you have your hands pointed away from you and closed it presents a very small image to process. Unfortunately, that’s the primary position for throwing a disc.

So, I’m still not entirely sure that the controller can’t detect disc throwing movements very well. I think that a major factor with the tracking issues I had is my old computer hitting its limits. I’m already researching new components to build a new machine soon.

In any case, since I needed the game to work on my machine, I simplified the controls to that you hold your hand(s) in positions that are very easy to identify for the controller. The controller seemed to do a very good job at recognizing when you open and close your hands, so I based most of the interface on opening and closing your hands to trigger actions, while using movement and rotation to fine tune the input.

I had a friend try it out earlier today and watched as he struggled to make it do what he wanted. Since I had to finish the game by midnight tonight, I was a little bummed. However, I tried a minor modification that turned out to work and the game is much better now. I basically separated the aiming and throwing phases of input which made each of them more robust. Phew!

Pre-release Means It’s Broken Somewhere

This no longer surprises me, but it still wastes my time. I never did update to the latest version of Oculus and Unity for the game, which I really wanted to do. The main reason is that I haven’t been able to get the latest version of the Oculus runtime working on my computer yet. I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon, but I didn’t want to waste time with it when the game worked with older versions. I doubt it would have made much of a difference, but I still don’t like feeling like there isn’t time to upgrade everything and take advantage of any bug fixes and optimizations.

VR Meteors Update

I’ve also done a little bit more work on VR Meteors this past month and am planning to upload the Oculus version to the share site soon. I’ve come across a few issues with the Android version that I’ll need to fix before I release a Cardboard build. I suspect that this will progress much faster now that the 3D Jam is done.

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VR Discs Of Golf

VR Discs Of Golf

VR Discs Of Golf Title Screen

I suppose I can go ahead and announce that the project I’m making for the Leap Motion 3D Jam is a VR Disc Golf game. I basically have the disc physics and basket interaction at a playable state, so I’m going to stay committed to the premise. I still don’t know how accurate it really is, since I can’t find any type of recorded flight data online. That’s why I’ll need to bother some of my friends who disc golf to try it out for me.

I’ll be making the course out of geometric shapes and basic grid-style textures. It’ll be a little like Discs Of Tron, so that’s why I’m calling it VR Discs Of Golf. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this is a precursor to a Discs Of Tron remake for VR. I may even add moving obstacles and trick shots, so it’ll be kind of like disc mini-golf.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if the Leap Motion is going to be accurate or fast enough to do a realistic throw motion for the game. It may be that my computer is finally starting to show its age, and can’t quite keep up the with Leap Motion’s processing demands. It may also be that the angle of the hand when making a disc throwing motion is about the most inaccurate angle for the cameras, so that’s my fault for not trying the interface before I wrote the physics code. It’ll still be cool, but it will be more of a gesture-based interface. While I think about the interface and how I’m going to handle it, I’ve gone back to finishing up a release version of VR Meteors.

VR Meteors

VR Meteors Title Screen

VR Meteors keeps getting closer to a release date. I put in the high score and initials screens today. I also added a shield effect when you get hit. Of course, it’s all delightfully programmer art, but it gets the job done.

At this point, I only have a few things left to do. I’ll add a background sound and audio options to the settings. I’m going to implement the single button play style that I had for the Gear VR into the Cardboard build. Now that I have a better understanding of the rendering system, I’ll see about being able to switch between the colored and outline graphics on-the-fly. Then I’ll do a tuning and polish pass and go through the publishing steps for Google Play and the Oculus Share site.

Since publishing a game is a pretty significant step and legitimizes my company, I’m really getting excited about it. I’m pretty nervous too, since this will effectively be my “first impression”. I’m just trying to deliver an enjoyable experience that is quick and easy to play, while not trying to do anything extraneous. I’ll add more stuff in later updates as I get the systems written. At least it’s free, so there shouldn’t be any complaints about the price. It is the internet though, so I won’t be surprised if there are.

 

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Leap Motion 3D Jam & Stuff

Leap Motion 3D Jam & Stuff

This week has been busy and fun. I feel like I have all the pieces to finish VR Meteors. I just need to put them in place now. I have plenty of plans for extra features and some restructuring, which will wait until after I put the game out into the wild. Here’s a screenshot of the title screen to show that I’m super cereal.

VR Meteors Title Screen

Getting VR Meteors online will also free me up to work on a project for this month, which is the Leap Motion 3D Jam. I just got my Leap Motion controller this week and have a couple ideas that I’m going to try. I’ll have to see how well the controller works, and the best hand positions, before I can decide which one to develop.

For those who don’t know, the Leap Motion controller is a small device which houses an IR camera that tracks hand movements. This allows for interaction with 3D objects by moving your hands around in the air. Typically, you would place it on your desk and it would track your hands as you move them around above the device. However, for my interests, they have a mount that allows you to stick the camera on the front of a VR headset so that you can track your hands in a virtual environment.

Other Stuff

Some other things that I’ve been working on this week are: menus, input, paths and splines, 3D text models, and various framework tasks.

Menus

For the menus, I’m trying to figure out how to separate the menu system and package it in a way that it’s easy to import into new projects. I drew a simple vector based frame to use for the various controls and have been working on setting up a template for the various UI elements in Unity so that the layout and sizing works the way that I want. I still have quite a bit of work to do before it’s truly flexible. Fortunately, VR Meteors is my primary development project, so it works for that.

Xbox360ContollerMenu OUYAContollerMenu

I’ve also made a couple of screens for the Xbox 360 and OUYA gamepads that display the controllers and highlight the buttons when you press them. I’ll be putting this at the beginning of my games to try and remove the need for me to explain the controls to people when they try the games. Especially since I won’t be able to do that when people download them soon.

Input

Wow, I don’t know exactly how Unity’s input system could be more cumbersome and less useful. Even if it didn’t exist, it would be more obvious from the beginning that you would want to write your own. I’ve been working on a new input manager to handle various controllers on all the platforms that I’m trying to support. Even the same controller on another platform has different button mappings, and the axis and button handling are separated seemingly arbitrarily. Fun times.

Since I’m primarily focused on VR using a gamepad, I haven’t yet tried to figure out how to handle keyboard, mouse, tilt, and touch controls. I’m sure that will be a whole new can of worms when I start working on some mobile app ideas.

Paths And Splines

When I was working on VR You Make Me Sick to go along with my talk last weekend, I wrote some simple path control code to make the targets move. I have now adapted that to move any transform in Unity along a path, circle, and now splines. I have a basic spline calculation that I came up with just playing around. I’m going to implement a proper Bézier Curve calculation as well, for more precise control. I’ve also learned how to use the gizmo system in Unity in the process, which will be handy.

3D Text Models

I learned how to create 3D text models in Blender, so I decided to use them as logos for now. I went to the Google Fonts site and downloaded a few different fonts that I felt fit the style of the games and modeled the titles to use for the title screens. I still need to figure out textures for them, but I think they’ll do the job until I can get some real art done.

That’s enough writing for now. I’ll be working on the finishing touches for VR Meteors this weekend and you should see it online next week sometime. Then I’ll get to work on the 3D Jam.

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Indie Game Con!

Indie Game Con

The Indie Game Con starts today. It’s all taking place in downtown Eugene. There is a Business Summit this afternoon and Art Show this evening. The Expo and Pro Talks are all day tomorrow. Followed, of course, by After Parties.

VRoom! Getting Up To Speed With Virtual Reality

As a bit of self-promotion, I’m giving a talk at 4:20, called VRoom! Getting Up To Speed With Virtual Reality. I’ll be talking about various topics related to virtual reality, as well as a little bit about augmented reality. I’ll cover the various popular game engines that support VR, the hardware that is currently and soon-to-be available, best practices for VR, and share some of my personal experiences with working with all of the above.

I’ll make another post to supplement my talk, and I’ll share a link to my presentation as well. I’ll do this after the talk, so that I can make sure to cover things that I missed, provide further info, and integrate any Q & A information.

I’ll even have a small game that I’m putting together to demonstrate what not to do in VR. It’s called: VR You Make Me Sick.

Business Summit

This is happening all afternoon today, at the newest addition to the downtown bar scene, The Wayward Lamb. It’s several hours of information from members of the local startup and indie game community, as well as some guest speakers who are in town for the IGC. I suspect there will be quite a bit of useful information for those of us who are new to running a business.

Art Show

Immediately after the Business Summit ends at 7, the Art Show begins at the LCC Downtown Campus. There will be art from and inspired by video games, as well as a DJ playing music with a video game theme. I’m not sure where I saw that info, so I don’t have a link to it. Sorry.

Expo

The expo is the main part of the Indie Game Con, and there are over 25 indie games being shown this weekend. Come down and take a look at them, play them, and talk to the developers. This is a chance to get any questions you have about game development answered by developers who don’t have to watch what they say, since they work for themselves. If you can’t find a game that you like in this bunch, I’d say it’s likely that you didn’t look hard enough.

Pro Talks

I already talked myself up earlier, so I’ll focus on the other talks here. There are 18 talks and a panel discussion on LGBTQ issues in games and the game industry. The speakers range from business people, to full-time game studio developers, to online personalities, to indie developers. 6 of the talks are free to attend with the basic expo pass, so you have no reason not to check at least one of them out. The other 12, require a pro talk pass, so be sure to get the correct ticket if you want to see any of them.

After Parties

After the expo ends at 6:00, or 6:30 if you attend the panel, the party begins at 8:00 at 3 locations nearby.

Big City Gamin’

This will be where you want to go if you’re under 21, since it is the all ages party. It’s just over 3 blocks away, so you’ll be able to walk there in a few minutes. I’m not sure what all will be happening there, but I expect games and music at least.

Shoryuken League

If you’re 21 or over, and want to play some more of those awesome indie games that you didn’t have time for at the expo, this is where you will want to go. It’s less than 2 blocks away, and will have plenty of demo stations set up for developers to show off their work. They’ll have drink specials and happy hour starts at 5, if you want to head over early.

The Wayward Lamb

If you’re 21 or over, got your fill of playing games during the expo, and just need to dance, head over to The Wayward Lamb. This is the dance party. There’ll be DJs and drinks and it’s right behind the LCC building.

Come support your local game development community. It’s going to be a blast!

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Going Down To South Park

Going Down To South Park

Well, this is certainly exciting.

Gonna Have Myself A Time

Somebody found an Xbox dev kit with an old build of a South Park game that we worked on at Buzz Monkey for several months. If I recall correctly, we were told to make “Simpsons Hit & Run + 20%”, whatever that means. In any case, it was a blast to work on. And while it was super ambitious and we only had several months to work on it from scratch, it actually was a lot of fun to play. The design team had to watch every episode and document every character, location, and item in detail. Not bad work, if you can get it. The programmers and artists did an amazing job in a tough situation, and most have gone on to work on some great games and interactive entertainment.

Mission Overview

Here’s a quick synopsis of the sample mission that they show in the video. It was meant to be a vertical slice demo, which means that all playable elements of the game were to be included in the mission. The basic premise for this portion of the game is that there is a city-wide scavenger hunt happening, and one of the items is a straight jacket.

Exploration and adventure

The first part of the mission has Cartman trying to find his Special Olympics costume so that he can get on the short bus and get a ride to the mental hospital to find a straight jacket. This was to demonstrate the interactivity of the environment, the quest system, character costumes, basic controls. The arbitrary timer was not part of the design. We’re gamers, after all, we knew it was stupid. Let’s just say that sometimes the development team doesn’t make all of the decisions when making a game.

Platforming

After he collects his costume, he then has to make his way through the backyards of his neighborhood to get to the bus stop in time. This had fences, hedges, gates, and other obstacles. This was to demonstrate the platforming elements and destructible objects, while showing how the 2D town was going to represented in 3D.

Driving

Once Cartman makes it to the bus stop, the short bus arrives and he gets on board. There was actually a question about why the user would control the bus if the kids weren’t actually driving. We basically responded with, “seriously”? Anyway, the user then races to the hospital while avoiding other cars trying to run them off the road and beat them to the hospital.

Puzzles

When the bus arrives at the mental hospital, Cartman runs to the gate to close and lock it to keep the other players from getting in to the hospital. Here we meet Towelie, who offers to help Cartman figure out the combination. If you’ve seen the show, you can probably imagine how this plays out. I was going to put Towelie in as many places as I could. Since, you know, “Don’t forget to bring a towel.”

Stealth

Now Cartman has to search the hospital for a straight jacket, while not being noticed by various NPCs. This wasn’t Splinter Cell stealth. It was more like Hotline Miami stealth. After Cartman finds the straight jacket, he is caught by a nurse and tries to fight his way past her. Since he has no special powers yet, she easily overpowers him. This leads to the cut scene where he is strapped down and given electroshock treatment.

Combat

If you’ve seen the South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, you know about the V-chip, and this turns out to be Cartman’s special power. If you haven’t seen the movie, what the hell?!? Go watch it now! The electroshock treatment reactivates the chip in his head and he is able to shoot lightning bolts from his hands by cursing. He uses this power to fight his way past the orderlies and nurses, exit the hospital, catch the bus as it is leaving the parking lot, and the mission is complete.

Quiet Mountain Town

Here’s a little taste of what you would have been exploring, had this been finished.

SouthPark_Layout_v3

I have to say, that as difficult as this project was, and how much stress it caused everyone involved, I’d do it again. And it helped me develop a much deeper respect for South Park, which continues to this day.

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Google Cardboard

Google CardboardGoogle Cardboard Viewer

Well, since there seems to be a major upgrade of the Gear VR around the corner, I’ve decided to hold off on getting the hardware until it is released. Plus, various issues with the 0.7 runtime and lack of laptop support makes Oculus a bit of a pain to deal with at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m working on supporting the Google Cardboard platform. While the general concept and functionality are similar to the Oculus, the experience is a bit less immersive. The field of view is more akin to a View-Master, which coincidentally is releasing a Cardboard viewer this fall. I love my View-Master. I’ll definitely be getting one.

View-Master Cardboard Viewer

Google Cardboard in Unity

Using the Cardboard SDK for Unity makes it very easy. You basically just need to attach the StereoController to your existing camera. Make sure the camera has the MainCamera tag. You’ll also need the Cardboard component somewhere in your scene.

I’ve had some inconsistent results with making Android builds and the rendering not working. I’ve made some builds with just the above two components added to the scene and the stereo cameras get created at runtime and render properly. Other times, I’ve had the rendering be black, and it only appears when I turn off the VR mode. In this case, I’ve had to create the stereo cameras in the scene in the editor, so that they exist before making the build. I haven’t tracked down the exact cause of this issue, but it would make it easier to switch between Cardboard and Oculus builds if I didn’t have to create/delete the stereo cameras before each build.

Cardboard Viewer

 

Teefan Cardboard Viewer

I’ve ordered a plastic viewer from Amazon that has headstraps. It looks pretty adjustable, and as good as any of the other headsets I’ve seen. Plus, it does have the magnet controller for single event input.

Ouya Controller

Ouya Controller

I also ordered a tiny Bluetooth gamepad from Amazon. It looks like a passable controller, but I mainly ordered it to get the free shipping. As it turns out, my Ouya controller connects to Android and works just fine. I do need to work on detecting the control scheme and map the inputs appropriately. Put that on the list.

At this time, I’m planning on getting the games customized and working for Cardboard so that I can publish them to Google Play and iTunes. I figure that will be good to work on while I wait for Oculus to be more reliable.

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