All posts by Dennis West

Personal Design Theory Presentation

The final presentation I gave to my Advanced Topics: Design Theory class given in the Instructional Psychology & Technology MS program at BYU, Spring 2017. This presents my personal design theory as focused by the readings and discussions in class along with my past experience as a graphic designer.

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Final Project walkthrough for my Amiens Cathedral learning simulation

This is a video walkthrough of my Amiens Cathedral learning game that I created for a class. It is presented as a proof of concept of what a more complete model and additional learning elements could be.

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Unity3D on the web

In order for the game-based simulation that I’m working on to work, I’m going to have to be able to export my game to WebGL from Unity3D so that users won’t have to fuss with installing extra plugins before they can experience it. To test this, I have exported my result from the Roll-a-Ball tutorial on the Unity3D site to WebGL to see how that goes. The code is surprisingly simple in the resulting HTML page that is automatically generated. Instead of just linking to the page, however, I wanted to embed it into this post so that I could be sure to get the game to show up where and how I want it to. Here is the result (use your arrow keys to control the ball to pick up the yellow boxes):



Embedding this in a WordPress site like mine has some issues, the biggest of which is that the HTML generated from Unity includes some Javascript references in the head and since the post editor doesn’t have access to the HEAD tag, I had to work around it. At first I tried an IFRAME but since the game was in a different page than the post, the user would have to click on the game to get the controls to work.

My end solution was to just move the script reference down into the post with the rest of the code. Not ideal, but it works.

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Design Blueprints – Interactive Cathedral Walkthrough

The purpose of this project is to develop a walkthrough simulation of an environment that can be used as a learning tool for Art History students. The benefit to such a product is to give students the ability to freely explore locations that are inaccessible either due to distance (in a country or continent that is not feasible to travel to) or time (site has changed significantly from the period of its original construction or is no longer in existence).  

An benefit additional to placing the student in the environment is the ability such a walkthrough simulation has to provide contextual learning opportunities at specific locations in the environment. These can serve as items for the student to discover in locations that lend themselves to expound on additional historical or design details of the environment at moments that will have the greatest pedagogical impact on the learner.

The technology this walkthrough simulation will be built in is the Unity3D game engine, and as such will be a game-based simulation of an informal learning environment. It will provide the learner with opportunities to explore at will and discover additional details about the environment at their own pace.

For the scope of this project, the environment produced will encompass the portion of the cathedral highlighted in red in figure 1.

Figure 1. Portion of the cathedral that will be featured in simulation highlighted in red.

For graphics, this proof of concept product will include 3D graphics rendered without textures in a method similar to what is shown in figure 2. This is because the purpose of this project is to place the environment in a 3D game engine. Future development will focus on the complete modeling and rendering of the cathedral environment.

Figure 2. Sample 3D occlusion render provided to illustrate the proposed appearance of the walkthrough simulation. This image credit 3dpad.deviantart.com.

The functionality of the walkthrough simulation will be as illustrated in figure 3. The user will enter the environment in a first-person point of view. There will be a map layout in the lower left corner similar to many entertainment video games. The map and the 3D environment will feature icons located at key positions that, if navigated to, will reveal a pop-up window with additional information in the form of a video as shown in figure 4.

Figure 3. A mock up using a picture of the cathedral as a placeholder for the 3D environment. Both the map and the environment show the marker icons that will reveal additional information about the structure.

Figure 4. A mockup of what the pop-up window will look like that contains the additional instructional information provided by the informational marker.

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Learning Unity 3D, week 1.

I am currently a Master’s student at BYU studying Instructional Psychology and Technology. My project is to recreate the Amiens Cathedral in 3D in a game environment so that students can navigate through the space and visit markers to study various topics regarding the cathedral’s design, construction, structural condition, and use.

To accomplish this I am going to expand on my model that I created for my BFA in Animation senior project and place it in the Unity 3D game engine. By doing so I’ll be able to create an informal learning space where students can navigate freely and spend time exploring and finding points of interest for further investigation.

Unity has a very useful set of tutorials that give a great introduction to the game engine, including how to incorporate scripting. Their introductory lesson presents the task of building a Roll a Ball game.

Here is my finished game (download ZIP file) from this tutorial build for Mac OS. This was a great, fun start!

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