We have the In Ulysses tech demo working inside the Oculus Rift!
I would like to finish the In Ulysses experience in Dublin in the present day in the same location, with the user gently floating 100 feet into the air to get 360 degree view of Dublin. To do this, I figure that the game would transition from a games engine to a 360 degree video prerecorded moving vertically, possibly shot from a camera drone. This would function as an interesting ending to an adaptation that ends prematurely compared to the original. It alludes to the character of Dublin in the book, the viewpoint of the location of future possibilities of this VR project and connects the user with the present day before they exit the experience. It may also have a “wow” factor. For these reasons I have been keeping a close eye on VR cameras. These cameras shoot a 360 degree stereoscopic video. I find this technology very interesting but it is not on the market just yet. There are two companies currently making a big deal of their VR cameras – Jaunt and Samsung. I’ve heard good things about Jaunt, and I’ve also heard that the Samsung camera “Project Beyond” doesn’t work just yet.
In order to shoot a video in 3D you need two camera sources placed beside each other, mimicing the placement of human eyes. It is comparing these two images that we can discern depth. In the camera above, it’s hard to make out how sterescopy is achieved – the company mentions that they do it using “complicated algorithms” which I’m guessing also involves a lot of rotoscoping. “Project Beyond” however has come up with a possible solution to solve the problem of stereoscopic vision, overlapping the two camera “eyes”. The rumors are that it doesn’t quite work yet, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless.
Ideally, I will be able to fix one of these amazing cameras to the underbelly of a drone and shoot some aerial footage in Sandymount.
Leahys Terrace runs alongside Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount. It is suggested that Stephen enters Sandymount Strand from a set of steps by this small street. However, when the episode begins Stephen is already strolling along the sand – but he notices two women walking down the steps:
“They came down the steps from Leahy’s terrace prudently,
Frauenzimmer: and down the shelving shore flabbily, their splayed feet sinking in the silted sand. Like me, like Algy, coming down to our mighty mother.”
The key words here are “Like me” – they suggest that he too came down the steps earlier the day and we are joining him as he doubles back on his southern path and wanders northeastwards.
Here are the steps in Joyce’s time:
Here they are today, the part of the strand that Stephen walks upon is now a park and the steps have been demolished, but it looks like someone was good enough to leave a small indicator of what used to be:
But they’re back! Courtesy of my collaborator Barry Murphy, a work in progress:
Time for a long overdue update of this VR adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Our planned release date is (unsurprisingly) Bloomsday next year – 16th June 2015. We’ll have an event in Dublin where any funder can come along and try out the experience. We’ll also be sending out the rewards close to this time.
In September I moved to London for a few months with my day job (the development of rotor.ie) so this has delayed things slightly as I have not had access to my Dublin based workstation. I’m back to Dublin early December. I have partnered with artists in Dublin and here in London in order to keep the project moving.
Here are a summary of the milestones reached so far, and I’ll write individual posts on each one in the coming weeks.
- Photomapped Sandymount Strand with my trusty DSLR.
- I have found the team. I am collaborating on this project with three people, in three different countries – the U.S., U.K. and Ireland. They all have important roles and have already begun work.
- Created a playable prototype in Unreal Engine to explore the game mechanics.
- Researched the 1904 environment using existing literature, photographic archives, ordnance survey maps and architectural archives.
- Received our virtual reality development kit, and finally got it working.
- The 3D character model of Stephen Dedalus has been created.
There’s a lot to be done over the next 8 months. Here’s a summary of the major tasks:
- Integrating the VR headset to our existing playable prototype. Looking to have this working by the end of November.
- CG Modelling of Sandymount Strand 1904 has begun in earnest, the first iteration deadline is the end of the December.
- Iterate the game mechanic once the DK2 is integrated with the prototype.
- Rig Dedalus body for walking in 3D environment.
- Lock down game mechanic by March 2015.
- Expand episode from demo length (100 words) to finished length (>1000 words).
- Record text.
- Combine elements and finish first version of the game.
- Test, feedback, remake game (we will do this as much as time allows, this is where the quality of the game increases).
- Create user interfaces and iterate user experience.
- Create “tutorial” for first time users.
- Export and master for Windows, MacOS and Android.
A note about this blog…
I’m going to use this opportunity to not just post about the making of In Ulysses but also about the literature and technology surrounding it. Some stuff about Joyce, stuff about VR. I’m reading Finnegans Wake at the moment so I may post some thoughts on that. Okay so I am delving into the text of Ulysses to twist it into a VR form but I am not a great writer so please forgive the inevitable grammatical failures and stuff. Don’t expect to find any kind of scholastic Joycean discovery. I’m not an academic. I’m the type of Joyce fan that likes the magic of the book and the madness of Bloomsday. I’m doing this for fun. I just love this damn book.