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Worldmaking In Unity: Entropic Ecosystems

Final Project Summary


This interactive game uses motion leap hand tracking to explore the changing relationship humans have with nature in a rapidly changing world where the rush of technology oftentimes removes us from the world around us. , Amongst this disassociation and its effects, the natural world is reacting. Lizards have adapted to withstand hurricanes due to increasing occurrences of extreme climate events. Certain squid are able to adjust their size based on changing water temperatures.


I want to explore the idea of adaptability through these ever more frequent, fast, and powerful environmental changes. The effort to make significant and impactful change in slowing down the speed in which our planet is warming-a product of our own making- feels quite fruitless at times. I would like to explore those feelings by having the player try to contain and control the objects spawning into the space - or at the very least try to make some sense of it all.


I want to create an environment that is responsive to players’ interactions with the objects around them. The space will feel like an organic system, interactive yet unpredictable, representative of how humans have rather ignorantly abused various ecosystems with no comprehension of the potential consequences.


Inspiration


I'm inspired by some demos I found while exploring alternative controllers, such as the Leap Motion controller and the Looking Glass holographic display alongside a few books and articles I'm currently reading about how nature is adapting to climate change.


Here are some artists' work that I have been inspired by lately:

Nam Jum Paik

Diana Thater

Jennifer Steinkamp

Kristin Lucas


Research


Here are some technical demo's from other creators that I'm inspired by:




Here are some Tutorials I've been following


https://developer.leapmotion.com/unity

Quick SET UP ▹Leap Motion + Unity◃ 2021


Process


I have started working with the motion leap controller in order to start creating my scene. It's very much in a "demo" state, but I'm starting to assemble the assets that I want to work with. I've been trying to play with some fur shaders to get some dynamic fur effects, but I've been having trouble getting it to work the way I want it to.



I finally figured out how to get the fur shaders to react the way I intended it to, however I'm having trouble with the leap motion allowing me to handle the objects when they have physics applied to them. I'll have to do some more research, but I might abandon the leap motion in favor of mouse inputs if I can't get it working the way I want it to.


Right now I'm working on writing a random walking script using this tutorial. This way my objects can move and change without the user's interaction. I originally found a script that I tried to incorporate into my project, however fit required a NavMesh and for whatever reason I was having a really hard time getting it to work. So I decided to start from scratch. I found some low-poly animal assets that I want to place in my scene with a few animations using the animation controller.


I've built my scene and am adding a few video players to the walls and floor using this tutorial. I also plan on having some other devices in the scene play video, with some triggers for activating when the videos play, so hopefully I'll be able to get that working.



The videos are created using the style-based GAN architecture (StyleGAN) to generate video based on images the model is trained on. The model is stored on RunwayML, and the training images vary from clouds to images of the coastline scraped from Google images. I wanted to create video that was generated and constantly changing as the background for this little world.


Below is an example:


Documentation


Below is a video of me playing the most current version of the experience:



Overall I'm happy with the amount of work I managed to get done over the past few weeks. Most of the interaction works with collisions. Given the time I would like to have the scene develop more organically with a lot or random timers. For now, there is an array of objects that randomly spawn at random intervals of time, along with parameters for de-spawning. I had to do quite a bit of work on the assets to get them to perform the way I wanted them to and even then I would like the living creatures to change in more dramatic ways, like their scale or more dramatic shaders.


Below are some various screenshots of the game:


I'm still working on where I want this piece to go. I want to expand on this idea and build a few other worlds like this one, ones that can even interact with each other. The idea behind this was to build a constantly changing, entropic ecosystem which I feel I have accomplished. I wanted the player to experience how the world changes overtime with little to no input, however by giving them the ability to directly interact, they can act as a catalyst for change or just leave things the way they are.


Credits/Assets


Glitch Shader

Low Poly Desert

Low Poly Animated Animals

TV 3D Model

Desert Audio

Static TV video