It was exactly a month ago, when we attended the XR Brain Jam organized by Games for Change at New York City. During the 36 hour long jam session, our team, whom we call ourselves as the SWAT Team, came up with a multiplayer game concept called Mosquitoes vs Humans. To get more into the detail, I would like to talk about the XR Brain Jam itself. So this is an annual event, where developers and designers with background in XR technology (consisting virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality) team up with a neuroscience or a neuro-researcher to design a prototype game, that addresses different issues and problems regarding neuroscience. More information about the event is on the event website itself which is given below:
Team build up
Our team consisted of 4 of us from our company The Glimpse Group, along with three more people. We teamed up with a researcher from Rockefeller University, who is studying about the behavior of mosquitoes and the effect of DEET (which is a mosquito repelling spray). After a short brainstorming, we decided to build a multiplayer game where people can play either as human or as a mosquito. Both the human and the mosquito have several goals in their hand and multiple outcomes will results based on the activities completed by both parties within a specific time interval. It is an educational game with sole purpose to show the perspective of both the human and mosquitoes against one another.
Approach of building
All members of the team have pretty good background on design and development. We distributed our work on 50-50 basis. Three of us focused on design and assembling graphic assets, while the rest focused on developing logic. We maintained source control on Github to track our work. Since time is limited, we had to prioritize few features that focused mostly on the theme of the competition. We had several factors to consider: the game needed to be portable (should support Oculus Quest), should have seamless multiplayer play on a connection which has limited bandwidth, should not not have framerate issues and most importantly users should not feel motion sickness while playing a VR game.
Our primary goal was to make the app support Quest and and on the PC. We selected OVRCameraRig to integrate VR functionality as OVRCamera also support OpenVR (Vive Headsets support). Since the whole app is meant for rapid prototyping we have selected a low poly environment from the Asset Store. The ranger and the mosquito model has been built from scratch. We have used Photon PUN 2 for multiplayer features and had basic multiplayer features running. Due to time constraints, we did not focus on creating a lobby. We focused on having two users get into the app simultaneously.
We have created two app versions of this game. The first version lets you play as the ranger while the other version lets you play as a mosquito. The apps derived from the same project except the apps have different scenes with the mosquito and the rangers have specific game logic written for them. The common multiplayer logic, for example, meeting the goals and reaching end game, is written on a network manager. The ranger model incorporates FinalIK component for full body animation. Much of the time is spent calibrating the model bones with FinalIK. The mosquito player was given a flying mechanism, where the user can fly anywhere based on where user’s two hands point to. The control mechanism is like the user is flying with a Superman pose. The mosquito camera also has a fixed overlay with patterns in it. This is done for two reasons: to simulate how mosquito see through compound eyes and prevent the user from feeling nausea due to locomotion sickness.
The development was halted at 11 AM on the following day. We focused on testing the apps for the remaining time left. The mosquito app was ported to the Oculus Quest while the ranger app is run using Oculus Rift.
The following link gives a preview of the mosquito carrying out its goals.
The SWAT team had a presentation at 3 PM followed by demo session to all the event participants. We have been awarded the following recognition for our prototype.
As of right now, we are in progress of carrying this prototype by farther polishing the game and use this product to spread awareness.