Space Bar

  • Design Challenge: Design VR experience for the ETC Festival (where the ETC is opened up as almost like an arcade/theme park building – each experience is given a room where visitors queue to try out)
  • Contribution: Look development, design, models and animations
  • Platform: HTC Vive
  • Project Duration: 3 weeks, 2018
  • Team: 5 people
  • Tools: Maya, Unity, Photoshop

Space Bar is a wacky asymmetrical co-op party game where two players work together to fill orders in the time limit. One player stands behind the bar and fills garnish, the second player is up high and fills the drink with soda.

This project was selected for the ETC Festival out of 80 games via two-stage voting and jury process. Watch it below!

Contributions

  1. Look Dev: Concept, colour scheme, lighting. Wrote a custom shader for texture pipeline.
  2. Models: Created all environmental models as well as the slug-like player model. Used PyMEL scripts to procedurally generate certain environmental models
  3. Tentacle monster animation: Used PyMEL to rig and animate the tentacle monster
  4. Player character animation: Worked closely with the programmer of the team to implement the movement of the body to follow the VR headset in an intentionally unnatural way
  5. VR Controller animation: Used blendshapes tied to the trigger button on the Vive controllers to control the animation.
  6. VFX – Soda stream animation: Worked closely with the programmer to implement the stream of soda and wrote a simple UV panner to create the effect of the stream of soda.
  7. VFX – particle systems: Created several particle effects, including the stream of soda splashing, and electrical fire.
  8. Theming: Created physical props and decorations, converting the student lounge into a real-life space bar.

Look Development

Lighting

I did the overall look development for this VR game, where we wanted to create the feeling of a wacky alien bar. I used minimal area lights, instead choosing to draw attention to emissive (neon) elements in the area, such as the anemone-like light implements on the walls and the glowing dance floor.

For textures, we did simple gradients of similarly-hued colours to suggest form – especially on the blobby alien customers.

Texture Pipeline and Varying Customer Colour

To expedite the texture pipeline, since our look development was heavily focused on colour scheme, we needed to expose those in the editor to easily tweak something that was not fitting with the overall look. I and the other artist used a gradient based texture pipeline, with a custom unlit shader, to UV unwrap all our models so that we could change the colours easily in the Unity editor.

For the final installation of the experience, we had guests who were in line able to add an order into the game and have their alien customer appear on the dancefloor in the queue. This shader ended up being really useful for that. I wrote a small HSV editor so that the guests could create their own alien customer and it would still fit in to the overall look of the world.

Procedural Modeling and Animation

I scripted the rig and animation for the tentacle of one of the monsters in the game. Because of the fluid nature of the tentacle, I needed many bones that would behave in a similar way, and could easily do it with a script.

The tentacle monster is shown in-game below.

Player Movement

Worked closely with the programmer to lerp the rigged bones following the player’s head rotation and position to create a “slug-like” movement that was natural for a slug but unnatural for a human.

Blendshape Controls for soda gun

To accomplish this, since the animation had to be controlled by the trigger button value, I used Blendshapes to tween from the relaxed pose to the being-squeezed pose.

For this project, one of the players would be able to squirt soda from their hands. We envisioned having two fish-like creatures for hands, and when the controller’s trigger was squeezed, the mouth would open and the soda would come out.

You can see the amusing perspective of having these fish-creatures for hands in VR from the video below:

VFX

Soda stream

Simple UV panner shader and a stepped noise texture. For the stream arc I worked closely with my programmer to create a simple quadratic curve with the start tangent aligned from controller’s tilt. I rigged a tube and aligned each bone to the curve in a script, thereby creating the initial shooting outward effect.

Fire

A fire particle system that aligned with the overall look and feel of the world.

See it in action in the game here:


Theming

As part of the ETC Festival, we converted the student lounge into a real “Space Bar” by theming the room. I built a bar table out of cardboard and made the sign using cardboard and neon paint.

The sign was painted under black light to make sure the colours under black light were correct.

Some other theming elements I added included empty glass bottles that I filled with water that was tinted with neon paint, and tonic water, which glows slightly under black light. We also created some organic-looking halos out of twisted paper towels dipped in neon paint.

We also had to distribute the lighting implements we were provided. These were three hanging area black lights and two black throw lights. I balanced these with the light emitted from the screens (that were used for spectating gameplay), the dim presentation lights behind the bar, and light coming in from the door.

As there was a photo opportunity by the sign near the door, I made sure that the people taking the photo were illuminated by the light coming in while the sign was illuminated by the black lights in the room, to avoid having people look strange in their photos.

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