This experience was inspired by the idea of bringing people together asynchronously - to move with the ones that came before you, and be seen by the ones that will come after. Often, its the visual and physical cues that we subtly communicate through body language that tell a bigger story than the words we use or the clothes you wear. Although each of us are unique and have different lifestyles, at the end of the day, we all have very similar goals that cannot be accomplished without working together.
What it does
It teaches users how to perform this dance step by step from a pre-recorded dance "captain", how to keep up with the beat of the music, and how to combine these new skills to dance with others at the same time.
Previous users who have gone through the experience also join you in the dance with their names above their characters, so you can easily point out your friends and watch them (attempt to) dance. Changes in view to 3rd person cameras make this experience suitable to sharing on streaming sites such as Twitch.
How I built it
The project was built in Unity. Art assets were all built in Maya, except for the water which was purchased from the Asset Store. Title menu assets were built in Photoshop and GIMP, while the sound assets were from freesound.org.
Challenges I ran into
Having this be my first Hackathon project, it was an eye-opening experience to learn about the process from ideation to execution within such a short amount of time. As it was also the first time working on a VR project, it challenged me to think outside of the box in terms of usability and about the design process overall. Another challenge was my lack of knowledge in certain programs that my teammates were working with, so it propelled me to learn these new programs.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We put a lot of research into the culture of the dance and Japanese festivals in which Soran Bushi is performed. This included looking at different costumes, festival environments, and traditional art and dance performances. We wanted to make sure that the dance performance, music style, and art style were as accurate as possible while also being mindful of cultural appropriation. Because I had limited access to certain programs, I also learned how to use other programs to accomplish the same goals.
What I learned
We learned about this cool Japanese tradition and the inspiring reason of bringing people together as a way to motivate Japanese sailors to keep up their spirits at sea. It was also fun learning the dance moves when trying to record. Coordinating team projects is always a challenge and I was able to learn more about how to maintain a work flow with others and keep everyone efficient and productive. I also learned about the limitations that we had within the design process during this short time frame and for designing for VR in general.
What's next for Soran Bushi
In the future, we would like to add in more challenges for users, such as speeding up the tempo, and adding in other pre-recorded characters such as a traditional Taiko drummer. We would also like to continue adding in incentives to keep the users engaged and continue learning the rest of the dance moves. We would love to showcase this experience to others at festivals and events around Seattle to let others experience and learn this traditional dance.