Inspiration Behind The Idea
In honor of Earth Day on Monday (22nd of April), we decided to come up with an educational and interactive solution for ocean pollution. Despite comprising nearly three-quarters of the Earth, the oceans have turned into large trash cans filled with human waste. Improper disposal of nonbiodegradable substances like plastic, and release of toxic compounds from agricultural runoff and industrial emissions severely influence the constant decline of water quality worldwide. This leads to the destruction of many marine ecosystems that are essential for our survival too. In our opinion, also backed up by mass-researches, education is the best way to empower the general public to take action to save our planet. Our application, Captain Planet, tackles with this challenge in an interactive way and introduces the issues to our global community. Therefore, it is our steadfast belief that implementing a fun and educative application in the society will promote us to take a step towards saving our future.
About the App
Captain Planet simulates an interactive underwater VR domain, aimed towards educating people of all ages about the marine ecosystem depletion due to human activities. It takes the user in a multiplayer underwater ocean bed, whilst monitoring the health levels of the surroundings. It provides them with a closer perspective on water pollution, dead zones, and instructs them on the basic steps that one can take to preserve oceans. It is a multi-level game that begins by restoring a stable ecosystem in a dead zone covered by an algal bloom. Along every step of the way, Captain Planet's immersive platform educates users on what steps need to be taken to restore a healthy environment.
How We Built
We used Unity with ARCore to host and develop our VR game. We used a custom network linking interface for multiplayer tracking and support. We used .cs c# scripts to develop and interact with UI elements. We also overlayed a world map with button controls to interact with the game. Further, the website was created using elements from HTML and CSS. The Firebase database and platform was used in multiple instances as well. The website loads the data from Firebase, as well as the VR elements that load data elements for status monitoring. The game app is developed in stages and follows a plot/storyline.
Challenges We Faced
There was a multitude of challenges that we faced while developing the actual gaming VR environment. The ideation was a relatively smoother process, but working with the Unity 3D IDE was tricky. With limited background knowledge, our team went on to develop a relevant skill set overnight, proving to be a challenging task. Adding the multiplayer component to the game was also tough as we had to configure an additional Networking layer on the Unity Developer. Another challenge that bothered us was the slightly excessive input into linking Firebase with our real-time VR Status Display. Moreover, just adding interactive script and UI elements to the game was a taxing process.
Accomplishments That We're Proud Of
Despite the challenges in terms of both experience and working with new systems, our team prides itself in overcoming them all successfully. Moreover, when we actually went on to test and run the VR application, we were impressed by how much we were able to accomplish in the very limited time frame. We definitely learned a lot of things and other minute details that we needed to be mindful of, both of which provided us great satisfaction. Our abilities to manipulate C# scripts also surprised us positively. And last but not the least, completing our hack from the very top to the very bottom was a rewarding experience.
What's Next for Captain Planet
Captain Planet, if reciprocated with positive feedback, plans on further developing the app to cover other environmental educational games as well. The game dev will further work on the graphics, a multiplayer system, and other core components that need development. The current environment will also be migrated to a more user-friendly interface.