One of the important aspects of the residency at VRFILMLAB Kaohsiung (Taiwan) is the exchange and sharing of knowledge.
We had therefore planned to organize in November 2019 a VR initiation workshop open to all, including beginners.
The idea of the Children's Games workshop is to learn how to create and code a VR (or AR) experience in a very short time (between 2 and 6 days).
The concept came to me during the conception of the ATLAS project, during which I had to learn coding in C# and how to use the Unity game-engine in a very short time (a few days).
I realized that I felt a blockage about coding (I didn't receive any training on this topic during my studies).
It was linked to a common fear: "coding is: too complicated / reserved for engineers / requires too much time...".
But once this fear was overcome (thanks to the Performance Augmentation Lab team during an art/science residency), the required knowledge seemed relatively accessible to me.
I was able to build the first prototype of Atlas for Hololens in a few days.
After two weeks I had a functional prototype, and after 6 weeks we started showcasing this prototype to the public at SXSW in Austin...
I then wanted to transmit this know-how, the coding of XR experiences, during a practical workshop (very little theory, a lot of practice), during which attendees can participate in the creation of an app, from the conception to the final playable product.
This is not the first time I use this concept to teach coding in XR:
Before this workshop in Kaohsiung, I presented this workshop at Oxford Brookes University (UK), Arts² Mons (BE), Erasmus School Brussels (BE)...
13 participants were registered for this free, two-day workshop at the VR FILM LAB in Kaohsiung/Taiwan.
They were coming from very different backgrounds: curious designers, artists, VR film directors who are interested in a more practical part...
I was assisted by two professional developers (one different every day), from the VR company Phalanity.
The VR FILM Lab gave us access to the perfect equipment for this workshop: 6 HTC Vive Pro stations.
It is always a challenge to have so many helmets and sensors in the same space, but Marcus, the technical director of the VR Film Lab, always finds solutions!
The idea of the workshop was inspired by an artwork by the artist Francis Alÿs about children's games.
After seeing an exhibition of this work, I thought that this topic of children's games was very suitable for XR (VR/AR/MR).
When I talk about children's games, I'm not talking about video games or board games, but about those games that do not require any equipment, other than a rope, a stick, or simply the hands of the participants!
The most famous: Hide and seek, rock paper scissors, hopscotch, marbles...
But there are millions of them, specific to each culture, but they all have something universal that interests me a lot.
When children play together, a lot of processes take place: they discover a new space, learn its rules, seek its limits... They must learn to interact with others, often without the help of adults...
An adult who first enters a new world in XR is in a similar position to a child: vulnerable, he does not know the rules that govern this new space. The idea of using child's play to help him to tame this new world seemed interesting to me.
Last but not least, the idea of transposing a game from the real world to an XR experience is both a relatively simple exercise (in terms of code), but rich enough to cover a large number of coding concepts during the workshop.
I therefore ask each participant to revisit their childhood memories and bring back a game they used to play as children.
After having set up the teams and studied together the feasibility of each project ("no, a multiplayer football game in VR with motion capture is not possible in 2 days of workshop" :), we start with the "pseudo-code": even before turning on the computer, we study on paper the game mechanics.
Unfortunately, the short times do not always allow participants to design their own graphics.
Several scenarios: the most enthusiastic attendees draw at home in the evening (several groups here came back on the second day with footages designed by them, congratulations to them!).
But generally, we work with simple primitives (spheres or cubes), or objects downloaded from the net.
In the future I would like to extend this workshop to the design of 3D graphic elements, either via photogrammetry, or by using 3D VR drawing tools such as TiltBrush, in order to obtain much more personalized results.
Finally, the coding part, as expected, is the most complicated part.
Participants help each other, professionals come to assist in coding small bits....
And after 2 days, even if no one really believes it, we get there!
Here, 6 functional games have been created!
Two fishing games (the fishing games were very successful in Taiwan!),
All the animated GIFS are screenshots from the completed games
a pinball like you can find in Taiwanese night-markets,
a rubber-band destruction game (the gameplay is so fun),
an asymetrical multiplayer tower construction game (a player in VR, a player on PC...),
and finally the famous 五十十五二十 (a Taiwanese drinking game!).
Congratulations to all!
To this day, after this fourth Children Games workshop, I collected more than 19 functional games created by beginners.
Despite their simplicity and flaws, they are all functional and very fun to play, as shown by the moments of demonstration at the end of the workshops.
This is not a miracle workshop that learns to code in two days!!
If participants want to do the same thing at home, they should expect to spend a much longer time doing it.
Coding requires a lot of practice.
The idea is more to make them experience the process from conception to completion, so they can see that the level of complexity is affordable.
In the future, I would like to create a personal artistic project about our relationships with our childhood, inspired by these workshops.
With a similar approach that led to the creation of the ATLAS project: an artistic project that was born during creative workshops...
ATLAS - Residency in Taiwan - 5 - FEATURES VR
Marie-G. Losseau & Yann Deval
WITH THE SUPPORT OF
la Ville de Mons
Kaohsiung Film Archive,
Kaohsiung VR FILM LAB,
Forum des Images,
Bureau français de Taipei
Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan,
Kaohsiung City Government,
Bureau of Cultural Affairs,
Economic Development Bureau
the STARTS Residencies Project
as part of the STARTS program of the European Commission
Maison des Cultures et de la Cohésion Sociale de Molenbeek Saint-Jean
Microsoft Innovation Center Belgique