Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dreamfinder's Ride

I've started building the interior ride parts now.  First up also happens to be one of the more intimidating parts of the project for me: the Dreamfinder Vehicle.  Check out the photos HERE or download the Sketchup model HERE.  Some parts and 2 important occupants are still missing but I have to determine how I'm going to handle their animation before I can add them.  I hope to put the vehicle into the interactive model soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Big Interactive JII Update

The latest version of the Journey Into Imagination simulation is online.  See it HERE.

At first glance, there aren't a lot of obvious changes to this.  But there are a TON of technical changes.  The biggest change is that the whole thing has been broken down into separate scenes to save processor power and load times.  I'm now maintaining 4 different Sketchup models, customized for use in the Untiy game engine: Outside, the Ride, Captain EO interior, and the Image Works (which is not available online yet, though you can go upstairs into the pyramid for a better view).  I've also turned off a lot of heavy geometry and will be fixing it to run smoother and faster in future versions.  Almost every inch of these models has been rebuilt in some way for use in Unity.  Programming will be easier in the future.

The ride simulation is now integrated directly into the overall model.  There still isn't much to see in there but it is working. You can look around 360 degrees while on the ride and press "Enter" when you want to get off.  Although it is still running at super speed for now, I do have the turntable synced up (mostly via programmer cheating) and the 90 degree rotation works as well.  I'll eventually add the proper speed changes, but that will probably wait until time to sync the soundtrack.

I have already started learning and integrating audio and lighting.  I'm a theatrical technician by trade so I'm having to un-learn how to use these tools.  They don't really work like real life in Unity.  You can see some early lighting attempts in the Captain EO scene.  I also put some (at least temporary) audio in most of the indoor areas.  Those elements should be working better in my next major update.

This little project has now officially become the most technically complicated thing I've ever taken on without being paid for it.  I'm a professional control systems programmer and I think I've become pretty adept at Sketchup, but the 3D game stuff is totally foreign to me.  It's fun though and I'm glad I'm doing this.  It is forcing me to learn not only Unity and more advanced Sketchup functions but also things like Javascript, C#, Blender (animation is another big learning curve for me), and the wonders of 3D geometry and math in general.  I'm really hoping to come out of this with a nice marketable skill set.  It feels like a long road to get there though.

I hope you enjoy the updates.  Please feel free to give me useful feedback (bad or good) or advice.  I'm also always on the hunt for new reference resources.  Soon I'll be crediting some great folks who have sent some wonderful material.  Thank you all.