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.