Author: Luca Mefisto

perpetual snowslide

Perpetual Snowslide

By now you should have realised that interaction within Virtual Reality is my biggest turn-on. After playing with DanceMats, Blink detection, custom controllers, etc… there was still one key missing experiment to do: Balance control.

The Wii Balance Board is an inexpensive (£10), obsolete and reliable piece of hardware. With two pressure plates per foot (toe and heel) it can measure with precision the balance of the user and share it over Bluetooth. It has been used in a few experimental VR games in the past, but I still wanted to give it a go and try to design around the problems in a different way.

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unityeventvisualizer

The UnityEvent visualizer

About one year ago I was hired to help with a Virtual Reality project for a massive sci-fi movie. I was very excited as I love the genre and that saga in particular is great… then I saw the Unity project!
We all have been there: a project with little direction at the beginning where different agencies have taken care of animations and sounds respectively without worrying too much about how to hold everything together. Once all the mess is done then you call the programmers to work on it.

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magicForestMain

Maximising VR immersion through acting

Imagine that you are in a VR adventure where you enter a room full of characters. They are all minding their own businesses: talking to each other, playing games and, in general, being alive. When you approach a group, or a single character, you start talking with them normally and they talk to you like if you were one of them. They are all following more or less a script for a story where you are the protagonist, and it is through interacting with all characters how you can progress in your very personal adventure. How could we create this?

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hack_construct_fire

Virtual Reality for H&S training.

In March 2017 a was convinced by a friend to assist to the Hack_Construct hackaton in Manchester. What made this hackaton interesting was that it was aimed to the Health and Safety processes in the construction world. Teams were formed by a good mix of construction engineers, architecs and programmers; and the goal was to use technology to find new ways to improve their incredibly obsolete H&S procedures.

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kite_main

VR Kite experiments

I am working on a new VR game for PC. The concept is quite simple: you fly a stunt-kite that has to perform a choreography following the music.

I started thinking about what would be a good VR-PC standing experience and kite flying is perfect: you are usually facing the same direction, taking maximum 1-2 steps forward/backward while controlling the lines. No need to teleport around or use the controllers awkwardly, you just swing your arms, walk a little and look around!

This is a post and not a proper page because I just wanted to highlight some of the features I am developing for the game. In this project I am taking care of the code and shading while a colleague  is doing the 3D, so most (all) of the pictures are a work in progress.

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vrescape4

Very Real Escape the Room

I always like to think about my house as a playground, that is why I try to do a pillow fort every now and then (I am getting incredibly good at it) with mazes, levers and riddles. But maybe I am finally getting old and for the last one I thought that moving mattresses, tables and hanging ropes everywhere was not a great idea because, when the puzzle is finished, I would have to dismantle it and I won’t be able to replay it ever again.

I recently went to my first “Escape the Room” game ever. In these games you are locked for 60 minutes in a room with some friends and have to solve some puzzles to get out. I really had a great time, it adds so much more things to the experience than the video-game versions! I was also well surprised with the difficulty: instead of 4 or 5 very hard riddles you have dozens of smaller ones, making it a more satisfying than frustrating experience… I needed to do one of those Escape the Room games for myself!

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blinkRecognition

VR Blink Detection

In December 2015 I was invited to Granada Gaming, a Video-games festival held in my home town, to talk about VR and my interaction experiments. Very exciting times!

I had to give two talks: the first one was oriented to all the professionals (coders, artists, journalists) where I explained some of the decisions I took while creating Apnea (my always in-progress  videogame). The second talk was for a general public and for this one I wanted to talk about something that seems to concern a lot of people: VR limitation and why FPS won’t work very well at the beginning.

I won’t cover the whole talk here as many of the interaction experiments showcased can be found already in the “VR Wireless” post and my github page, but I created something I thing is a cool hack to solve one of the main trends in VR movement: the blink transition.

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850612

Hack ‘n Slash

October 2014 came fast and I was ready for another HackManchester after having a blast the previous year. But this time having to work +60 hours in a week made me take the decision of doing something much simpler so I could get some sleep.

At this point I was starting to experiment with an idea for what later will become Apnea, my first ever commercial/experimental game (still in the making… but more on this on another post). One of the key features of Apnea was the detection of the user steps using the HMD’s accelerometer and another one was the detection of the user breath with the microphone. Soon I realized I had a problem: every time the user walked very strange signals appeared in the breath detector, quite odd! I fixed those problems much later, but by that time I decided what if I make a small interactive game out of this odd behaviour?

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lightRaiderMEN

Light Raider

Half a year after HackManchester I decided to give  a go to a Data-Based Hackaton… this time joining a team with friends. The result was the Light Raider, an Android app that encourages running among Mancunians by targeting lamps in the streets. It went really well as we won in “life quality” topic … and I used that money to get me an Oculus Rift SDK 2 (but that is a different story) and we even got showcased by some of the local media.

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