Virtual Gallery Reflection

For my final project I developed a virtual gallery in the Unreal Engine, the gallery is designed to be a way to view and listen about the work I have created in an interactive format. The gallery is both a portfolio of work I have completed and a way for me to describe the processes involved and what I thought of the end result through voice overs.

The virtual gallery helps me to demonstrate a large variety of skills, for example the cinema room demonstrates my ability to use the programs Audacity to record and edit audio, and my ability to use Adobe Premiere to edit videos. The art room showcases several techniques such as my work in Photoshop, my paper craft task and my perspective drawings. My 3D Room shows the models that I developed in 3DS Max, the book and the Walkie-Talkie. My foliage room displays the skills I learned in 3DS Max, such as modelling, texturing and alpha mapping, it also displays my primary research from the Westgate gardens trip. The gallery itself demonstrates certain skills, such as environment design, working with Blueprints and UV Mapping.

The skills we have learned are diverse and applicable to all industry sectors, both triple-A and indie developers use all of the skills I have demonstrated in my virtual gallery, even mobile games can be developed in the Unreal Engine. Virtual Reality games are also developed using the skills I have been learning, VR games are designed in 3D environments, so these skills I have demonstrated are highly relevant.

The skills I have been learning prepare me for a huge variety of job roles due to the diversity of techniques and programs I have been using. My work with Audacity is relevant to becoming an Audio Engineer, positive aspects of this job include that I find it interesting and intuitive to work with, however on the negative side I would find it difficult to listen to the same clips of sounds repeatedly for hours at a time, and recording high quality audio can be tough to do. The work with creating textures and applying them with Alpha Mapping and UV texturing techniques would help me become a Texture Artist, I would find this interesting as creating textures is an engaging and creative task, however I am not very good at developing textures in Photoshop, making me a bad fit for the job. I would also be more prepared to become a Concept Artist due to my work with Photoshop and my one and two point perspective drawings, however I am not very skilled with 2D art, though this course has improved my drawing and Photoshop skills somewhat. The work with 3DS Max and Unreal would prepare me for a job as a 3D Modeller or an Environment Designer, the glitches that appear in these programs can be frustrating after working for a long time on projects, however I find working in both to be engaging and interesting and would happily do either as a job.

To ensure I completed my work in time to meet my deadline I created a design document, this document featured a table which contained a list of assets for each room. I also noted the source of each asset, I would leave a link to free assets found online such as textures. This document proved extremely helpful as I could separate out individual parts of the larger task which could be completed quickly, such as gathering audio or finding textures for rooms. Once I had collected the assets for the gallery I began importing them to the virtual gallery and I could refer to the list so I knew what else had to be added.

When creating my virtual gallery I ensured safe working practices by taking 10 minute breaks after sessions of 1 hour or 1 hour and 30 minutes, this protects me from eye strain and issues which come from sitting at the computer for too long. To ensure the safety of my work I kept several up to date backups and multiple versions of each piece of work, this is so that if any complications arise I have the ability to use a different file to solve my problem.

In my virtual gallery I employed audio and visuals to create specific moods and feels to each room, in the 3D and Art rooms I had calm ambient music, fitting to the kind that could be heard in art galleries. In my foliage room I used ambient sounds of nature to make the room feel more natural. In the games industry sound has been used to great effect, horror games often convey more emotion through sound than through visuals, though they each depend on one another. Similarly in my rooms I also used visuals to set the scene, in my foliage room the floor is a bumpy, bright field of grass with small flowers littered around. My Art and 3D rooms are each slight variations on real art galleries, having floors of laminated wooden planks and marble tiles respectively. Each room is based off of a mood board I created in advance, they were designed to convey a certain theme appropriate to the room, I used these images as reference points when designing the interior of each room. The environments of games would also be designed with a certain mood in mind, similarly to how I had planned out my rooms. The frames for the screenshots in each room are also unique to each room, the 3D and Art room have frames with a similar appearance to those in art galleries. Whereas the cinema room has a more simple frame with a glossy, plastic appearance, and the foliage room frames are simple and made of less refined wood than the Art and 3D frames. Each of these differing frame types helps by adding to the theme of the room they are designed for and assist in conveying the mood of each.

If I were to change a single aspect of each room I would change the sounds, tense music and threatening sounds could turn the gallery into a horror game. I believe changing the textures of the rooms instead would convey the same mood, but to a lesser extent as the audio would still be calming and non-threatening. A way to change the theme to fantasy for example would be to change the colours of the plants in the foliage room, or to make the walls and floors of the rooms appear to be made out of rough stone and wood, reflecting the style of older structures. If I were to change the door ways to futuristic ones and changed the audio to match a futuristic theme I believe the virtual gallery would seem more like a sci-fi game than a gallery.

When developing my virtual gallery I used primary and secondary research to develop a theme for my interiors. My trip to Westgate Gardens acted as primary research which helped me develop a theme for the Foliage Room, I did this by taking pictures, recording audio and drawing various pieces of plant life. I also did a secondary research task on the Louvre which helped me develop a concept both for the 3D and Art rooms, to do this I analysed videos and images of the Louvre and the Louvre 3DS game which was a virtual tour, similar to what I been developing.

I used this research as a way to develop concepts, the research I did influenced both the mood boards and some of the other content, for example the second tree was based off of a photo I took at Westgate Gardens, which was primary research. I found the research to be very beneficial, it gave me insight to how the real-life equivalent of the rooms I had to develop looked, for example the Westgate Gardens trip helped me understand the amount of ambient noise that could be found in natural environments, I used this research as a reference point when finding ambiance for the Foliage Room.

The main way I would improve my research is to increase the amount I did, more locations as well as more images and sounds from those locations would allow me a greater idea of what each environment looks and sounds like in real life. The increased amount of reference material would also be valuable for creating assets such as textures and models from photos as well as ambiance and sound effects based off of audio I had recorded. In regards to preparation I believe I prepared for this task well, although with my design document I could have colour coded areas based on things I had gathered and things I hadn’t. I could also have set time windows for each part, such as “Week 1: Gather or create all textures. Week 2: Gather or create all audio.”.

In conclusion I believe I handled this task well, I planned and prepared for the task appropriately by researching and creating mood boards and a design document. By paying attention to these throughout the task I managed to maintain an awareness of what I had left to do before the task was completed and I was aware of what I wanted the end result to look like throughout the task. I was happy with the end result of my work, though if I were to improve it I would add more foliage and animate it to make it seem more organic. I would also liked the TV screen to have had a reflective exterior, however due to strange glitches I couldn’t incorporate this without reducing the quality of the entire room. I believe the skills I learnt, both with programs and in terms of planning and researching, were very relevant to working in a variety of roles in the games industry, I also believe that planning methods such as the design document hold relevance outside of working with games too as I can use them when tackling large future projects as a way to stay on track and to maintain an awareness of workload.