Launch Pad Blog 7/16/17
Arabian Knight Sound Track:
The Zapper Sound Track:
360 Camera Test at Cliff Cave Park:
Thoughts from week 4:
So… I had some wins.. and I had some losses this week in VR. Some issues were learning issues, and some were external forces.
Choppy GearVR:. So.. what’s going on here is that I keep causing a situation where the GearVR will run choppy after X happens. X is an event somewhere between turning on the phone, and attempting to run a build on the phone, wirelessly, after plugging in the GearVR headset. Once it happens… Everything with the GearVR headset engaged runs choppy, including the GearVR home screen application. This usually happens after a wireless build or two, while running Snapdragon profiler. However, I have had it happen while Snapdragon is not running. This problem happens quite a bit. I can get rid of it if I reboot the phone and the computer. What’s interesting is that during this state of choppiness, I’m able to get a GearVR Developer mode preview to run without any lag. That includes the developer mode view of the GearVR home screen. When I click the phone back into the headset (GearVR developer on or OFF) it goes back to being choppy. There’s something in that process of clicking the phone into place that seems to trigger the choppy performance. I have yet to track down this problem, I’ll report back if/when I do figure it out.
The show must go on! I can work around said choppiness. This choppy issue with the GearVR headset is not holding up production THAT much at this point. I’ve been using the Oculus Rift headset to preview things in the Unity editor and I’m finding the camera perspective of the Rift is very close (if not perfect) to what I would see in the GearVR. So for iterations where I need to adjust the placement and scale of things, the Rift is providing me fast feedback, faster than using the Rift hardware actually. As far as visual checks on phone performance, using the GearVR ‘developer mode’ and looking at the double image on the phone isn’t that bad. At this point my eyes can pick up dropped frames well.. And for what I might not see, there’s the profiler and log data.
Level design is working: This week I’ve been proofing Unity’s Timeline as a way of directing the camera and objects, while measuring how performant it is traveling through a mock level at increasingly faster speeds. The mock level consists of a basic mobile-friendly shader and a bunch of stock unity geometry baked with Mesh Baker. The idea was to see just how much geometry I could pack on the screen while keeping it all down to a single draw call, while making the camera pathing performant at VR resolution of 1.9. So far things are going nicely, the phone isn’t that taxed over the initial test. I did stumble along a way to get an idea of where the phone performance metrics should be at. I’ve been profiling apps like the GearVR home screen to learn more about the way in which it uses resources and what type of heat range is tolerable and sustainable to the phone. The Samsung S7 seems to handle heat pretty well.. It does concern me a little that my app, while running fine on a S7 would BBQ a lesser phone if I pushed its limits. But again, looking at the home screen metrics, I suspect it was designed for the widest audience possible.. I’ll probably stick to that range. The takeaway from this testing is that my theory on how to design my levels is working in practice!
Gear 360: Finally got around to trying out the Gear 360 and it’s fun! I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the footage after publishing to YouTube at 4k. We’re researching a side project with 360 video and real estate showing. It’s in the early stages, we captured one house location for practice and learned more about how that process flows. One of the immediate take-aways is that the Gear 360 camera can and will overheat quickly if taxed. We did one shot that was about 5 minutes, then let the camera rest for 10 minutes. Then we shot outside (it was 95 outside.. So it was hot) for about 2 minutes, then continued in the A/C house for another 5 minutes. The camera (mid shot) gave an overheating warning and stopped recording… In the middle of a shoot with the realtor giving her narration… this was embarrassing but it’s why we did a mock run, right? Overall though, the idea of VR 360 and real estate tours is peanut butter and jelly, and the realtors are eating it up. In my opinion, real estate and VR is a natural fit. More about this later… we’ll upload some footage of that once we get it processed… AND SPEAKING OF PROCESSING 360 VIDEO ->
Editing 360 video: I tried Avid first to export my 360 videos, but it wasn’t going well at all. The quality went way down on export, and the stitching…the manual meta data encoding on the footage to get it to 360 view in YouTube… overall, the workflow sucked badly. I think it was overkill at best. So I decided to try Action Director. I did the on hold with Samsung thing for ½ an hour to get my serial # for Action Director first. Then I downloaded version 1, and come to find out, it doesn’t stitch video from the Gear 360. I’ve learned that Action Director version 2 does though! So I downloaded it, and I get visual basic runtime installation errors on my Unity machine (Windows 10 65bit). At this point, I’ve mailed the vendor, head back, then mailed log files.. I’m somewhat optimistic about a response but to be honest I don’t have time to wait around. I’ll end up installing Action Director on another computer most likely, and test the video editing and 4k exporting. If it works as I expect, it will be a nice and easy solution for editing our videos and exporting to YouTube at full quality. I feel like Google is being… annoyingly strategic … by not releasing a native YouTube app for GearVR. The browser route to YouTube will do for now. Overall, I’m optimistic about working with 360 video, these setbacks are surmountable in the grand scheme of things.
More music! My sounds guys are going to town with Kontact Ultimate! New versions of our original music have been made, and they are progressing nicely. Lots of concept stuff is happening as well, and some of these concepts will probably make it into the game. I think capturing creative work at a point where happy experimentation is high can produce some great stuff. I’ve not given them too much direction, just general guidelines on what we’re looking for in terms of story. I’m planning to see what comes up in the next week before wrangling them into a meeting to review the new content. From there we’ll go back to the checklists and focus on particular tasks. I’ve taken one of our tracks and put it into the GearVR camera demo mentioned above, and it feels good! I forgot who said it, but to get an idea of how good the acting is in a film, mute the audio and see if you can understand the story. In this case, I need the music to elevate and tell a story, without the visuals.