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In this new era of science and technology, it is very difficult to imagine people working without assistance of computers. Our dependency on computers has led to the rapid development of faster, smaller microprocessor, multi-tasking software and better graphics cards for them. Computes already become a daily activities needs for personal, social, educational, professional, and entertainment purposes.
Today video game are very famous, almost 75% of heads of household play computer or video game and game habit can found in everywhere such as working desktop, palm-held device with or without network connection. In this case, video games allow learners to visual system in three dimensions compare simulation with their understanding and manipulate variables.
This paper intend to present ongoing research on feasibility of game technology to create interactive 3D environment that easier for user to view the photorealistic of the campus and immersive navigation as a tool for campus analysis and visualization.
3D campus now is the famous virtual reality environment in this new era. By using such game engine, it is possible to create engaging interaction such as user clicking on particular object, AI on Non Playing Character to interact with player and/or environment. At the end, I will present the feature of the game engine. The advantages and the limitation of using game engine to develop a virtual reality environment.
Why Virtual Reality Environment for Campus
In this new era, Virtual Reality (VR) is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds. VR include a wide range of new technologies that offer the viewer an experience they participate in. Besides, people can see a first person perspective on screen because they have the ability to control their point of view. VR engages us with interactivity, and invites us to be active in the experience, as if we are really there.
VR has already been used in special applications to treat motor problems, or disabilities induced by mental problems with promising results and so on. Nowadays, VR is a new way of optimization between computer and human. Because VR can construct more realistic virtual world in 3D vision, audible, tactile. It can also help users to through the virtual environment to interact to the virtual entities designed through a nature feeling. 3Ds Max is a software to create virtual world, which can describe 3D object. Users normally construct virtual world by integrating various media style such as text, picture, and sound and so on. We are using 3Ds Max to build modeling of TAR college. Because 3Ds Max is more expressive that a simple 3D scene. It can show campus' scenery through the net. Users can virtually walk into campus, feeling the nature entities of campus scene. Besides, users can acquaint him with each building's relative position and its function. In every building user can learn by interactive materials. Features like these are very important for those are fresh and foreign users can also login the net to explore out virtual campus.
What is Game Engine?
Game engines provide a suite of visual development tools in addition to reusable software components. These tools are generally provided in an integrated development environment to enable simplified, rapid development of games in a data-driven manner. Game Engine provide flexible and reusable software platform which provides all the core functionality needed, complexities, to develop a game application while reducing costs, and time-to-market.
Game engines usually provide platform abstraction, allowing the same game to be run on various platforms including game consoles and personal computers with few, if any, changes made to the game source code.
Some game engines are able to provide real-time 3D rendering capabilities instead of the wide range of functionality required by games. These types of engines are considered as "graphics engine," "rendering engine," or "3D engine" instead of the more encompassing term "game engine."
Unity 3D also considers as a multi-platform game development tool. It is fully object-oriental design and FPS (First Person Shooter) controller ready to program. Unity 3D consist of API for develop RTS (Real Time Strategy) and FPS type of game genre.
Benefit of Game Engine
Game engines offer several of features and opportunities:-
Tracking and logging of individuals and their behavior - if the world is represented digitally, it can be recorded precisely.
Security features - individuals may be prevented from entering certain parts of the world, in fact, the engine could restrict anything they do;
Vandalism - in the real world, reconstructing a demolished building is essentially impossible whereas in a digital world it is not;
Detachment - users cannot harm each other physically because they are probably in different parts of the real world, and engulfed in a virtual one;
Censorship - the engine would be able to define what a certain individual can and cannot see, or what they can and cannot do;
Empowering - everyone share the same abilities independent of actual physical state;
Reproduction - if we record the world like a video, we could replay it at will, from any place at any time through any view.
Comparison of Game Engines
With the number of game engines increasing, today game engine provide the most advance features such as complex model, artificial intelligent, graphic engine, as well as networking, sound engine and modification tool. Most leading game engine based on game title namely: Unreal Tournament 3 and Half Life 2 has relatively equal ability in graphic engine, physic engine and development tool. These categories are essential in this research for its visualization and flexibility to modification although limited to game level only. Unity 3D is not based on game title and can be used to develop new game with game play, game logic and environment.
Ease of Use
Win, Mac, Lin
Win, Mac, PS3
Win, Mac, Lin
Table: comparison among three different game engine. The more * indicates the better.
Game Engine for Visualization Tool
Game Engine can use to develop various natures of projects. Normally, the game world is built by importing its entire object from particular CAD/3D applications such as 3Ds Max. In this case, game engine usually comes with the game itself becomes a platform on which modification is taking place. Modifying game level for architecture visualization purpose is stimulating because it opens up the game engine for real time data rendering and manipulation. Game engines could quickly develop models and deploy it with texture and lighting effect in game engine-based application with no further demand on high-end computer specification
Actually a lot of technical specification on each engine, I had focus on the findings some primary functions of game engine such as 3D geometry data input/output, lighting and texture mapping. This consideration was taken mainly because those basic functions are the most significant functions that take advantage from the 3D rendering and animation software.
The summary of this study is depicted by Table 1.
Table 1 Summary of game engines for visualization.
Unreal Engine 2
Built-in editor, any CAD data must be converted
Dynamic lighting and shadow, HDR (High Dynamic Range) Rendering
3D vegetation generator, shader management
No built-in editor, any CAD data must be converted
Dynamic lighting and shadow, HDR (High Dynamic Range) Rendering
Optimization for large open area
Natively read most of CAD file format
Dynamic lighting and shadow, Time of day lighting
Heightmap and polygon reduction
Game Engine for Interactivity Tool
In addition to visualization, virtual environment also has provide users with interactive and communication systems. The virtual environment will only be useful if it supports physically realistic behavior. The types of realistic behaviors depend on the specific application. In architecture and campus design, usually we demand realistic representation of spatial environment with naturalistic effect as well as dynamic elements that inhabit it. Moreover, for interactive tool that could enhance spatial awareness and comprehension to further make better design decision, it is important to consider how user can interact with game objects.
In this case, I found that two previous projects are using built-in interactivity tool in game engines. Since interactivity is the element that is not provided by any 3D rendering and animation software, it is easy to us to use this function to enhance the quality of architecture visualization.
Table 2 Summary of game engines for interaction.
Built-in interaction editor, limited only for non-playable objects. Basic navigation provided.
C++ script to build interaction with objects and users
Both of these game engines are ease for use. Scripting mechanism is the main issue to create the interactivity by using game engine. For use in campus design, interaction system is based on the assumption that we can observe, examine as well as explore in 3D in real world whatever objects or entities we want to interact with. This kind of demand may require script programming in order to get high flexibility and freedom to achieve goals.
Following are some applications that can create by Game Engine:-
Game engines exist purely for the purpose of gaming and entertainment - but a huge industry exists around not just the content of the game, but the technology behind them. Innovations because of internet have led to a huge surge for online gaming, where a number of players owning the same game compete head-to-head or with each other in the same game environment.
American army cadets already use games to practice tank and infantry battles either individually or as teams. Real practice sessions in real tanks are expensive, whereas a game world is easily reset within a few moments. The American government developed a game that would accurately recreate the operations of the U.S. Army, with the intention of signing on new recruits. Battles are fought in a full 3D world between groups of people with an internet connection.
3D games (specifically for gaming) are used as relaxants - if a patient is undergoing a painful procedure, pre-occupying that patient with a game served by a VR headset can cut their perception of pain in half. The effect is not as significant if the patient is playing in 2D or in a non-immersive world.
Digitalo Studios developed two exhibitions using the Unreal game engine: high resolution walkthroughs of the Notre Dame and the Florida Everglades National Park. The intent was to replicate the environments and populate them with simple characters. There are many reasons to use a licensed game engine in this context - by default, they include a powerful renderer, interactivity and multi-user features. The target platform is identical - a standard PC.
Impact on 21st Century Classroom
There are multiple barriers to properly implementing game design into the 21st century classroom. Highlighted below are six primary obstacles which will need to be addressed prior to utilizing game design broadly in our college:
Negative perceptions toward video games as educational components. Much of this comes from a lack of understanding of educators of the difference between arcade style video games to more complex role-playing, graphically dense, and cognitively viable modem games.
The difficulty of providing state of the art graphics in educational video games. The student's enthusiasm for gaming may be diminished if the quality of the graphics utilized in the classroom are not equivalent to the graphics they are used to seeing on home consoles.
Lack of adequate computing hardware in the classrooms to run advanced video games - a one-to-one student computer ratio is not in the near future.
A school day divided by short class periods which hindered long term engagement in complex games. Researchers must determine if a student is interrupted while in the process of engaging in a learning objective within the gaming environment, do the interruptions interfere in the student's learning process? The findings of this research will dictate the type of "short" activities that could be developed to align with the school day.
A lack of real world affordances.
A lack of alignment to state standards. Video games pre-aligned to state standards (where they exist) would have an easier time getting into our classrooms.
Why Unity 3D?
4.2 Visualization Techniques
In order to achieve graphic performance as appropriate as the most 3D rendering applications, we explored Unity3D capability to handle basic function such as large scale texture mapping and dynamic lighting (see Figure 5). The main factor taken into consideration is the balance between graphic performance and real-time simulation.
Adjusting texture map with orthographic photograph
Applying final texture in 3D mesh in Unity3D
3D Model in Blender, baked- lighting using ambience occlusion technique to render texture map
Figure Procedure of texture mapping and baked-lighting.
For such condition, there are two constraints of texture mapping to obtain greater performance both in graphics and game play (see Figures 6 & 7):
1. Texture size must be as small as possible and visually appropriate.
2. Texture must be layered with baked-lighting information to get lighting effect (ambient occlusion) during game play.
-image size : original 1024 x 1024 pixel
-memory consume : 652 KB
-visual quality : high quality, antialiasing, detailed relief
-image size : 512 x 512 pixel
-memory consume : 170.7 KB
-visual quality : appropriate quality, nearly no-difference from 1000 x 1000 pixel
-image size : 256 x 256 pixel
-memory consume : 42.7 KB
-visual quality : poor and loose detail
Figure Comparison of texture size.
The Investigation on Using Unity3D Game Engine
Texture Size and Memory Consumption
Figure 7 Memory size comparisons
Virtual reality in game-based environment can categorize into two parts which are game world and game design. Game world consist of game environment and all game objects. Game design consists of game scenario that determines how the game will be played and how the game world would interact with the user or with other game objects.
Intention on investigating Unity3D is to explore its ability as a tool for design study, how it different from any other available 3D applications or any 3D viewer and presentation authoring applications and what is the advancement (see Table 4).
Therefore before we expand our investigation, we start with architecture design point of view. We regard game engine as an engine to develop our tool therefore it is important to consider aspects of design study to be incorporated in this application and at the same time investigating the method and technique to accommodate such requirements.
Table 4 Game Design and requirement
Unity3D- based application
create 3D environment which visual quality balance with the game performance
maximum visual quality for real world representation, i.e. : light and shadow, alpha channel, texture map, time-frame independent animation
less visual quality features (VRML, Flash-based)
create system of navigation which allow user to explore with maximum degree of freedom
allow maximum degree of freedom to explore and navigate in virtual environment
pre-programmed animation sequence (3D animation), less flexible freedom of movement (QuickTime VR)
view direction, high degree of navigation system (Bentley-3D PDF)
create system of navigation which allow user to examine particular object of interest in various way of perspectives
method to enhance spatial comprehension
view direction, high degree of navigation system (Bentley-3D PDF)
create method to incorporate various type of information
rich content and other data bounding technique
require script language and server-based interaction (Flash-based)
create method to accommodate flexible 3D data exchange
method for 3D data interchangeable to external tool
less flexible to perform data synchronization (Flash-based and other animation packages)
create a method to translate conventional analysis study
method to perform some basic visual-based analysis
flexibility to expand game design
The navigation system is the main important to be considered in this application. As for a tool to examine 3D world, the main considerations of developing navigation system are:
1. It must be easy to learn, easy to remember and easy to use with maximum intuitive level as possible.
2. It must have rich features on minimum key input
As navigation system is crucial both for exploration and comprehension of 3D environment, we then elaborate the design of navigation system into the following criteria:
There are two main navigation systems: Human Eye View (HEV) (First Person Camera) and Bird Eye View (BEV). Both are triggered by mouse stroke on an icon.
On each navigation method, instead of using icon-based navigation panel for pan, zoom, orbit and others (see Figure 8), each method has contextual button using mouse-keyboard stroke combination.
- zoom: using mouse scroll wheel
- orbit: using mouse movement
- pan: using mouse left click - and drag
Figure Pan, zoom and orbital navigation using mouse
In FPS, we use standard view navigation for FPS game (see Figure 9) :
- look and turn : using mouse movement
- walk forward : using key "w"
- walk backward : using key "s"
- slide left : using key "a"
- slide right : using key "d"
Figure Turn/look and move toward direction using mouse and keyboard combination.