Digital media and games are rarely considered as a way of preservation and conservation. Up until recently games were seen as predominantly for entertainment, sometimes for education, but holistically they’re seen as a form of fun and relaxation. However, with the introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) and its continuous crawl to the mainstream, we are seeing more forms of “games” that don’t conform to the traditional idea of gaming. While researching for The ‘UOW Yellow House Project’, (which I hope to be contributing to as my project). I’m beginning to realise this project is more than “an open access 3D, immersive and interactive virtual reality (VR) gallery”, it could potentially be a new form of conservation, a digital form of preservation of a historical physical space. The Sydney terrace house set up by artist Martin Sharp in the 1970s as an experimental art space will, in a way, be preserved in a virtual reality.
At the moment, the costs for setting up a VR system to run and play games is quite expensive, as you need a decent gaming computer, which are around $1000 and then a system itself, such as the Oculus, which is close to another $1000. However, these technologies tend to slowly drop in costs as the technology improves (look at 3D printers).
In terms of making and designing levels for VR, or any digital games for that matter, costs can ultimately be very low with software such as Unreal Engine being freely available.
This notion of exploring places of history, or similarly, exploring times of historical significance brought several successful games to mind, such as Assassins Creed and L.A. noir, which this article covers.
However, it is quite clear that the Yellow House project is more of an attempt at exploring space and objects, rather than a certain time period and the surrounding action. There for it is extremely important to be comfortable and capable with using Unreal Engine, and thus I have been continuing my practice in using it.
I have yet to discuss exactly what I will be doing with Chris yet however, he pointed me in the direction of a massive YouTube playlist of Unreal Engine tutorials. So I have been watching a few at a time, then practicing these parts on practice designs (such as my own house), then rinse and repeat, aiming to constantly learn more while also just getting used to the game design engine.
I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing my own improvement in using Unreal Engine, while still very basic, I’m definitely getting used to the mechanics, for one, (thankfully) I have learned how to clone objects, WOO! At the moment I am having trouble with textures and scaling them. For example, trying to make bricks look actual brick sized, instead of huge slabs. From here, once I get textures down, I feel I should start experimenting with the lighting aspect of Unreal Engine. Furthermore, I’m not sure if it is just my inexperience or a flaw in the engine but the snapping feature definitely lacks functionality, at least for me, however a google search reveals it is a common problem. This could be problematic for placing a lot of objects and making precise adjustments.
Below are some screenshots of my second, slightly more serious attempt at building a structure. It is still super quick but I learnt how to scale textures, a concern I touched on above, and there’s a little more detail, hopefully an improvement on my original: