It's often said that "Play is our brain's favourite way of learning" That's why I created an educational COVID-19 AR Game on Instagram, with the intention of providing some baseline knowledge about this dangerous virus and necessary prevention to stop the spread and lower the graph. As this game developed, I found an extremely positive feedback from the testers specially those children who used to go out to play in fields but now are not able to. This AR game actually created a sense of awareness amongst the children and helped put a more tangible face to the virus and this very serious situation.
In addition to the cause behind this effect, I also wanted to see how far can I push myself with size limitation of 4MB and bring a new perspective to the table by introducing something which has not been introduced on this platform before.
What it does
The COVID-19 game is a 20sec world-based educational augmented reality game, that informs viewers about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus that’s currently spreading around the world. It teaches about the various ways of prevention from coronavirus such as maintaining physical distance ,washing your hands regularly, wearing masks, etc. The game starts when you tap on the floating icon. As soon as you tap , five different objects mysteriously augments in your 3D space and you have 20 seconds to scan through environment and collect them all . At last a score out of 5 is displayed on your screen along with the preventive measures according to the world health organisation.
How I built it
I built the AR effect in Facebook's SparkAR platform throughout most of the month of June (2020), spending roughly 56 hours writing the script, editing audio, Photoshopping textures, Importing and optimizing 3D Models(from the AR Library)and animating components .
After importing all the assets I had to first create the initial screen and animate the objects by using loop animation and transition patch from the patch editor. then using the object on tap patch I scaled up and augmented all the 3D models and 2D planes in the surrounding environment.
For counting the score , a counter would increase each time you collect an item and and using multiple add gates the final score gets stored in a value which is then connected to the script which changes the score text on the screen.
For the timer , runtime patch is used which gets reset each time you click the play icon. Then through "round" and "minimum (rounded runtime value,20) " patch, the time is stored in a value which is then connected to the script and is displayed as the timer.
Then at last the end screen is displayed when the timer runs out which contains your final score and a remark corresponding to your score (by checking the final score using "exactly equal" patchand displaying the corresponding text).
Challenges I ran into
One of the major challenge was to fit all the prefabs, textures, audios , etc in the given 4MB file size restriction for the entire effect. David times when I had to remodel all the prefabs from scratch again and again just to save those precious few KBs. Removing useless textures also helped a lot in saving memory and optimising the game. Thinking out of the box with the sole motive to spread awareness for the coronavirus and its prevention in a non boring and intriguing way was also one of the challenges I ran into which was solved by developing this game on spark AR and using its function to bring a new perspective to the table.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Considering this to be the only game I built on any platform I am extremely proud of the fact that I built this in less than a week and brought a new intriguing way of spreading awareness for the coronavirus and making people know how to take preventive measures against it.
What I learned
I learn how to use this software, design the game, implement it in less than a week . Also the power of social media is something I realized is a big power these days . Especially in the days of this pandemic when everything is under lockdown , social media is something which can be used heavily to spread awareness globally and and empower people to begin preparing for a new (potential) reality of widespread infection.
What's next for The Corona Game
Next I want to randomize the spawn location of all the items and add more stability to it . Also I want to add more and more of 3d models and new features such as changing the screen colour gradient with respect to amount of Covid 19 patients in that area.