Dev Diary #1

I’ve always been fascinated by Hologram/holographic technology in movies, video games, tech demos, etc. You see it in films like Star Wars, Star Trek and countless other sci-fi films. Most recently, I thought it was done very well in James Cameron’s Avatar – the film with the oversized cat like people (lol). I enjoyed the film and like where Stereoscopic 3D is heading. These were some of the drivers behind developing and pursuing Augmented Reality gaming.

Augmented Reality is something that Pixel Interaction Studios has always been a fan of, and to see it being picked up by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft means it can go many places we’ve never imagined. Monstar Driver was never meant to be our first AR project. Our first project was, in fact, another AR game, but was placed on hold as the AR technology at the time was not giving us the desired results.

We’ve learned a lot working on Monstar Driver and this knowledge will lend itself to the development of our next AR game.

The image above is a screen shot I captured during a game play test in the backyard. I used a piece of plywood (not required, lol) as my surface. It can be any surface even water  if you have the AR marker laminated (not recommended) :) . With a single AR Marker and the iPod (Retina) camera pointed at the marker, we were able to juxtapose or project, if you will, the 3D game world onto this marker. This gives the illusion of actually bringing the virtual world into the real world. It gets even more interesting when you make the objects in the real world a part of the game world. You can truly create some amazing additions to the game levels.

Some of the truly amazing things about AR gaming are the various elements you can introduce into the game world so that once it’s projected into the real world, it becomes almost believable. Take for example the fiery hell that awaits the monster truck at the edge of the ramp. The smoke, fire particles, dust, etc. actually look truly believable. You can move in closer by moving the camera closer to the marker for a better view, or move around the marker to change your viewing angle of the game world or scene.

Here are some early examples of concept work. All 3d assets were baked in Cinema 4D and then further tweaked in the game engine. Texture maps were either done in Phostoshop, including Photoshop Touch and zBrush.

Here’s our first concept ramp. The idea was to give it two tractor trailer exhaust pipes which would have flames and smoke coming out of it. It never made it into the final game, but it was helpful during early testing.

Of course all monster trucks need something to jump over or flatten. We had to have school buses. We were inspired by Evel Knievel’s 1975 bus jump on his Harley-Davidson motorcyle. Truly EPIC!

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