This took a lot longer than expected – I jumped at the opportunity to 3D model a basic human skeleton in Blender (it’s rough, but still anatomically correct), and went a little further than strictly necessary with designing the 3D environment as well.
Also, even though this is a simple game, the interaction handling proved really complex. Very limited use of physics simulation (otherwise, there’s bones flying about everywhere), defining and dealing with attachment points on the skeleton, user feedback (the talking skull, color markers, colored bones), auto-aligning a bone when the user picks it up, etc. The devil’s in the detail!
On a side note, I went almost insane about MeshColliders with WebGL again. Only by chance, after hours of frustration, I discovered I had to check “read/write” in the import settings of the skeleton model. Otherwise, the MeshColliders in the WebGL build simply wouldn’t collide. Everything was running just fine in the editor, of course.
Pocket Observatory at Make Munich!
Slipped in at the very last minute, and probably had the tiniest desk
in the hall. But the response was great, I am still totally overwhelmed
by the positive response and all the enthusiasm. A huge THANK YOU to
everyone who came over to check out the app on Gear VR! Nice people,
great conversations, useful feedback, and even more ideas for future
development. After two days working the desk non-stop (together with my
wonderful GF) I feel a little spent but very inspired 🙂
On 3/16, Pocket Observatory has been released to the Oculus App Store
for Gear VR! It has taken a lot longer than expected, but in the end,
the additional iterations and feedback have improved the product
tremendously. Of course, this is only version 1 – there are tons of
additions on my list already, and I am open to suggestions 🙂
The past few weeks I’ve been working away on a really exciting
feature for the upcoming Gear VR version of Pocket Observatory: You will
be able to invite a friend (on the Oculus platform) and start a voice chat beneath the stars!
GPS coordinates are exchanged between the app instances, so players can
visit each other’s GPS locations. This is currently under review, and
will hopefully be up in a few weeks in the Oculus Store.
knowledge, this is the very first social VR astronomy app ever! I’ve
been thinking about this for quite a while during initial development,
but didn’t realize how easy it would be to integrate using the Oculus
platform SDK. Mind you, setting up peer-to-peer networking can still be
nerve-wrecking, given the unreliable nature of network communication,
but still… managed to pull this off in just a few weeks. Happy!
Check out the updated page at https://pocketobservatory.com for the details. Here’s a screenshot of the chat UI: (thinking about avatars and a shared space experience, too, but that’s for later.)
Now that I’ve gained some experience with Virtual Reality and my astronomy app, I’m thinking educational software for VR could be a worthwhile field for future projects. So I’ve started tossing ideas about, one of which involves playing with molecules in a VR environment.
Just finished and submitted the iPhone / Google Cardboard version of
Pocket Observatory! It really paid off to use Unity – porting from
Android with the Oculus SDK to iPhone with GoogleVR turned out to be
Here are the quirks I encountered, might be useful to know if you’re embarking on a similar project:
Gear VR, system messages (e.g., asking for permissions) are displayed
properly and can be confirmed while you’re in VR. On the iPhone, a
standard system dialog pops up. To deal with location service
permissions, I trigger the message from within a special startup scene,
before entering VR mode in the main scene.
support has to be adjusted with the platform. On the iPhone, compression
defaults to PVRTC, which requires square textures. The Unity importer
stretches non-square textures to make them compressible with PVRTC.
This results in awful artifacts, so I had to go over the compressions options for all of my (non-square) textures.
sure the text for camera use permission is set in the iOS player
settings – in GoogleVR, there is a UI button to allow the user to switch
viewers. This will activate the phone’s camera in order to scan the QR
code on the viewer. Not setting the text will result in an app crash.
the Cardboard app doesn’t run in the simulator – there is no suitable
architecture of the gvr library, so the app crashes at startup. I guess
it would be possible to build the library from source, but haven’t tried
Yes, I have decided on a name for my upcoming Gear VR astronomy app: Tadaa – Pocket Observatory!
Seems it is getting to a decent stage… it’s hard to stop adding
features when new ideas pop up every five minutes, but this all has to
wait for future releases. Now, it’s all about polishing and optimizing!
Here’s a very first video impression of the app: https://youtu.be/G4tHM2v0NyY
I was actually wondering how I could do a video such as this, but it
turned out to be super easy: Integrate the platform menu provided with
the OVR toolkit, and the function is available in the platform menu by
pressing the back button 🙂
Slowly, but steadily, it’s coming together. Since my upcoming
stargazing app is also featuring a nice landscape and daylight, I am
currently spending quite some time adjusting lighting and the complexity
of the scene. After all, this has to run with a steady 60 fps on the
Galaxy S6 with the Gear VR headset.
Mind you, the scene is not complex by today’s standards, but hey, this is still a phone!
Getting more serious about VR… the HTC Vive is extremely cool, but quite some investment for starters. Decided to get myself a decent Android phone and a Gear VR, and started porting my astronomy app Cor Leonis to Unity.
Good progress so far! Stars, planets, moon, and sun are all in,
reading device location and compass is a breeze in Unity, so I can
already have a view of the current night sky in VR 🙂
Now on to make things pretty and creating a cool experience!