Having previously worked on educational video games for a high school organization, TSA (Technology Student Association), and even placing first nationally, our team has had a lot of experience working with Unity. VR has been something that we have all wanted to develop for, and being that MLH has Rift headsets, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.
What it does
Cyber-dome is a virtual reality experience that combines the benefits of the Rift with the near perfect motion tracking capabilities of Leap Motion. By coupling the two, the user is immersed in a new world where they are able to attack and defend against "hacker" bots. Cyber-dome demonstrates the seemingly limitless possibilities of both the Rift and Leap Motion as well as the great functionality between the two devices.
How we built it
In order to create the world that Cyber-dome takes place in, one of our team members created a desert region in Blender. After implementing the basic scenery, he went to work creating various models of enemies for the user to fight against while some others started working on how to use Leap Motion to cast attacks from the left and right hands. Everything was compiled in Unity as it has the best compatibility given our time frame, and once the project was finished we pushed it onto GitHub.
Challenges we ran into
Over the course of development, there were several programming and hardware issues that we encountered that hindered our progress, and in some cases led to gameplay alterations. While the Leap Motion is great at tracking hand movements, it did not function properly when we tried to create sword-fighting mechanics. The tracker could not process that one hand was trying to make a jabbing motion, or even grip the sword for that matter. As a result, we had to change the game from sword-based combat to projectile-based combat. While programming the various to spawn in different waves upon completion of prior ones, there was an issue where some bots were spawning in with a different rotation than they were supposed to have, or in some cases, could not even move and proceeded to float off the ground. Eventually this was corrected through changing the collider on the ground. Aside from these minor issues, the development process overall was relatively smooth.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
First and foremost, we are very proud that we were able to successfully craft a VR experience from scratch that works in conjunction with Leap Motion, and is fun to play. The amount of work that was put in by the team is nothing short of amazing, with our lead programmer and modeler truly showing their proficiency in their respective software. Our modeler is specifically proud of the final boss model that he created, but we cannot say anymore about it as it is a surprise for those that experience Cyber-dome.
What we learned
The most important thing we learned at this event is that while the development process for VR and motion controls is similar to that of a regular game, it is much more difficult to get everything to work the exact way that it is intended to be. The best example of this would be our aforementioned problem of having to switch from our intended sword-based combat to the projectile-based one in the final product. Had we used a controller instead of Leap Motion, it would have been simple to make a sword compatible, but because we were using Leap Motion, we had to overcome that hill by thinking about various solutions. The fast-paced problem solving strategies that we had to employ to efficiently find solutions is certainly a big takeaway for all of us.
What's next for Cyberdome
We would like to continue working towards our original goal, which would be a full, on-rails VR experience, complete with the sword-based combat we originally wanted, and possibly more enemies. What would be even more interesting would be to add support for multiplayer so that a group of people could take on hordes of hacker bots together, making for an even more complete experience. Another addition we could create is the inclusion of more areas to fight in, such as a grass plains area, or an arctic tundra. The limit for where Cyber-dome goes is on us, so hopefully we will be able to continue to develop it, and create the experience we want users to have.