Inspiration

Due to the abundance of social media, interacting with the events in your friends' lives can be supersaturated. Because of this, its easy to feel disconnected or be socially aware. But what if your friends' pictures were more than just posts, but an experience? One that is intelligent, dynamic and more than anything else, immersive.

What it does

Social Network-in-Progress, despite its name, is much more of a complete experience than one might think. The app, running in Unreal Engine 4 and powered by the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, places the user in a virtual art gallery -- a museum entirely unique to them. Each hall of the museum is composed of the users closest friends, gathering logistic data from their Facebook activity. As the user tours the museum, it procedurally generates more corridors and exhibits. Stepping "into" a picture frame that features a friend will then produce a whole exhibit, instantly, of that friend's closest moments in relation to the user. In addition, the application will also generate unique environments for each exhibit based on their Facebook Interests.

How we built it

The 3D environment and procedural environment generation was done natively in Unreal Engine 4, using the free available modeling assets that come standard with the software. The photo assets and other media from facebook were sized, rendered, and rasterized in Photoshop CC 2016 in order to make them usable textures for materials within the game engine. The instances of the generated corridors and environments were created using a series of scripting blueprints that would execute based on the users location, and interaction in the virtual environment. In addition, we also built a website for the project to showcase future improvements we may (and will) make. The website's backbone was written in standard HTML5 and CSS with some JavaScript used for animations as well. Vector graphics and the background were created using assets from Vecteezy.com.

Here is a live version of the website displayed on Codepen: http://codepen.io/CalamityJayen/pen/oYgGdd

The Domain we have saved for host the website is: http://themakersmagnificentmemorymatrix.com

We thought the domain name was apt for the project.

Challenges we ran into

Unreal Engine 4, in its current state, tends to be behave very unstably when using virtual reality. The engine itself, is already robust and prone to crashing if proper etiquette and scripting procedure is not followed. Since this was a user experience, we also had to pay extreme attention so that the user did not accidentally interact or collide with an object in a way that would break the experience. UX/UI design and accessibility were crucial. In addition, because of the non-standard sizes used for images posted on social media, there was no real way to anticipated the files being added into the experience without potentially causing a crash, meaning every single photo used for testing had to be edited and rendered in Photoshop so that it would still appear in the application, live.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were able to create the proof of concept for an app that doesn't exist in any capacity and was very enjoyable to users at the event. It's functional, and furthermore something people would use in a leisurely way with the advent of mobile virtual reality platforms. We knew only a handful of things in regards to game development and worked on a handful of virtual reality projects before, but this was by far the most complete and functioning project we've made, and we did it all in 24 hours.

What we learned

Useful tools for industry standard game develpment, virtual reality UI/UX optimization techniques, object oriented scripting and programming for dynamic data.

What's next for Social Network In Progress

Patent, trademark, sell

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