Platform: PC, Mobile

Role: Game Design Research Assistant

Team Size: 5

Virtually Human

A life-like virtual human that was created using a revolutionary low cost production workflow.

Note: Since this is a research project, most technical details are under NDA and cannot be posted here.

Contributions

  • Created a demo that was shown at Siggraph 2019

  • Collaborated with multiple designers and the Creative Director of Cream Digital to produce VR content

  • Produced an efficient material creation workflow for the character in Unreal Engine

  • Assisted research teams with the optimizing the efficiency of their production pipeline

  • Developed a innovative VR interaction system using Unreal blueprints 

 

Challenges

  • Creating a highly realistic player controlled VR IK arm system

  • Communicating with various parties, both internal and external

  • Optimizing project for multiple platforms

  • Creating materials for skin and hair with an emphasis on realism

A more detailed breakdown of my design processes and techniques can be found here:  Virtually Human White Paper

Process

I implemented a 6 step process while approaching a task and this streamlined the workflow and helped me design new systems efficiently and in a short period of time. 

 

Research

The stakeholders wanted a very realistic interaction system, so my first step was to find out what's out there. A lot of VR games use floating hands which would not have been useful in our experience. I analyzed VR interaction systems in games such as Boneworks and Spider-Man: Far From Home VR experience and the animations/rigs implemented in UFC 2 and For Honor. 

 

Implementation

Implementing the interaction system involved experimenting with various IK nodes in Unreal Engine and improving it by adding various joint deformation nodes. It took me 1 month to create and iterate on the system. Iteration was based on feedback from design leads and the Creative Director of Cream Digital.

 

The last part of this process was adding multiple corrective blendshapes to the arms so that they do not deform in a strange way. I created 4 types of blendshapes that were activated when certain joints rotated past a threshold. This is what it looks like when it is slowed down.

Optimization

To make sure that the experience was playable on PC and mobile (Oculus Quest) platforms, I had to ensure that it always ran at an excess of 80 FPS. Many techniques were used to achieve this including replacing shadows with decals, using emissive materials instead of lights and compressing media files. 

All these techniques helped bring the lag down to 7ms and boosted the FPS to ~85 creating a smooth and artifact-free experience.

What did I learn from this?

  • Research is extremely important when coming up with techniques to create interaction systems

  • Optimizing content for VR platforms is very difficult and requires meticulous attention to what's happening in the level

  • Working with blueprints!

  • Compressing media to take up less memory space

  • Meeting hard deadlines

  • Working with stakeholders and constantly re-prioritizing tasks

 

Want to know more?

Visit the Cream Digital project page

 
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Visit the websites of the companies I worked with

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