Monthly Archives: April 2014

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at PM 06.25.17

Project Conclusion: The Subzone

The deeper one continues to prod at a tear in space, that tear will continue to grow. The same can be said about documenting and constructing the Subzone. What initially started as a way to glitch the virtual environment by playing with viewer perceptions turned into something huge on it’s own. The Subzone now stands as a virtual landfill, which projects samples of the huge influx of content being pushed out by people for people.

The most tedious and challenging part of the project was getting the technical aspects sorted out. This involved finding ways to circumvent problems if users are unable to access the Subzone due to a missing plugin for example, where they would then be able to choose to download the content to their local desktop and access it from there. Another conundrum was that of a moral one, as using Facebook wall images as the textures meant I might have to mask the images of faces. This also brings up issues of privacy intrusion, as I was essentially making their private Facebook walls public by using screenshots. I decided to target just the public pages on Facebook instead to get around this touchy issue, as the intentional idea to make something public would at times mean that the owners have no problems with other people knowing what they were up to.

Inclusion of the darker sides of Facebook meant having to trawl through comment threads and Facebook pages where the “keyboard warriors” will often come to gather to leave hateful comments. As for pornography and adult content, Facebook already has a stringent policing rule in place to detect and take down such content. Even so, that doesn’t stop many Facebook pages from getting around this by posting extreme risque photos of models (and this applies especially for Facebook pages maintained by adult entertainment companies).

social_media
A perfect illustration of data regurgition on the Internet.

All of this sourcing for what material to include and how to present them led me to think of it all as one big black hole of virtual nothingness. Even though each of these various “material” are something in essence, in the bigger scheme of things, these trails run cold and leave the user spent. It is much like how most of social media is today: they tempt, they instigate, they provoke a reaction. In this respect, the Subzone could be regarded as an ever-growing amalgamation of this cycle which becomes outdated in content the moment it stops being updated.

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Project Update 05: The Subzone (Bypasses and Solutions)

After some more digging around the Unity Answers forums, I chanced upon Eric Haines’s Javascript solution to animate still images in Unity. This method would allow me to bypass creating GIFs in Photoshop altogether as I could just directly dump my screenshots into Unity.  All I would have to do is to attach the Javascript to a game object I want to affect, specify the frames per second of the animation, and input in the individual still frames for the frame array. Since I would be working with lots of screenshots as input material, saving that extra few keystrokes from using Photoshop is a plus. On the other side however, I have to be extra mindful about just how many images I end up importing into the Unity system (i.e. increasing filesizes = increasing loadtimes on the webplayer for the user).

texture_gif
Screenshot from the Unity Answers page.

Another problem I was facing was trying to integrate all of the elements (Unity player, Tumblr gallery for user submissions) into one Tumblr page. Sometimes the theme for the Tumblr site would cause problems with integration, and I would have to search for another compatible one to see if it would work. In the end, I settled for the option to separate the user submission gallery and the Unity webplayer into their own separate Tumblr blog sites.

Here is an updated flowchart to better illustrate my current setup.

flowchart_02

I have spruced up the main landing page of the first Tumblr blog, thanks to some helpful html coding tips from hostingkingdom. I tried to get rid of unnecessary clutter on the site so that users can easily get to the instructions and follow them without much trouble.

Here are the current versions of the landing pages for the two Tumblr blog sites.

welcome_page
welcometothesubzone.tumblr.com

After users click on “Participate!” and click on the link at the bottom of the new page, they will be directed to the second Tumblr blog to submit their material. Once users fill in the details and hit “Submit”, they will then land on the main homepage where they will be greeted by all the user submissions to the site so far arranged in a grid layout for easy reference.

welcome_02
The submission page on thesubzone.tumblr.com
welcome_03
Homepage of thesubzone.tumblr.com

I will continue working with this setup and will stick to it, unless I find a better solution.

I have also added in a separate webpage tab on this OSS site called “Welcome to the Subzone” which should be appearing near the top left of this page. Project details and links have been added in the tab to direct viewers to the site in the event that they land here first.

Hopefully Tumblr doesn’t fall apart till then.

tumblr_no
Maybe this was during one of those maintenance periods in the day.

I also discovered later on in the process (when creating executable files of the Subzone for users to download) that the Windows executable file gets wrongly flagged by Chrome as being malware when someone downloads it. Also, those running OS X Mavericks will need to adjust their security settings to “anywhere” in order to run the downloaded app. I decided to include these important information right at the bottom of the main Tumblr site near the download links so that they will be seen and read by users.

malware
Screenshot of the malware warning in Chrome

Here is an update of how The Subzone looks like. After clicking on the Mac app I created and choosing the settings (screen resolution and graphics quality), the Unity splash screen loads before the user is transported to The Subzone.

subzone_config
Screenshot of the config dialog box.

spelunking

Project Update 04: The Subzone (Spelunking with Glitches)

I took some time to see how else I could fiddle around with Unity. Eugene Soh’s GALLERY.SG initiative was looking for beta-testers, and since it also ran on the Unity engine but had simple characters and textures loaded for an alpha level, I joined the server and started to play around. I discovered an interesting phenomenon, whereby logging in two machines to connect to the same server leaves a shell of the first user stuck in the skybox area of the map. What I realised only later after conversing with Eugene was that he couldn’t see the first avatar at all, and all he saw was me in my second avatar standing on nothing. I found this interesting and also a little funny, so I recorded myself in Eugene’s gallery.

I then decided to document unintended glitches happening while I went about my daily routine. While the main idea is to only limit my “glitching of textures” to only Facebook screenshots, documenting these glitches which occured naturally outside of where I was looking seemed to be more attractive. In any case, these would help me to be more picky about the kinds of glitch aesthetics to employ in the Unity space.

The following video below documents a glitch on Facebook, after scrolling to the bottom refused to load more posts for reasons unknown.

A glitch on YouTube which occured while uploading a gameplay video I recorded. The progress bar kept fluctuating with it’s numbers, which only served to frustrate me further as the upload seemed like it would never finish (but it did finish, eventually…)

A glitch from something I broke while using Quartz Composer. I think I plugged in something that I shouldn’t be plugging in. The weird effect continued to play in fullscreen, but the weird thing was it only showed up as a static image in the recording below.

A quick check on my Tumblr site hosting the Unity webplayer showed that everything is still in working order. As of right now, I can begin the process of updating the assets and the environments textures.

Here are some shots from the Tumblr site with added navigation text at the top.

tum_01
Screenshot from the main page, with the header and accompanying text.
tum_02
Screenshot from the “What is this?” section of the site.
tum_03
Screenshot from the “Participate!” section of the site.
tum_04
Screenshot from the “Ask me anything” section of the site.

At the moment, I am still trying to figure out if it is possible to add a page on the Tumblr site and use it to host the incoming submissions. If that doesn’t work out, I might have to link the submission to another site and link it via a hyperlink. Also, Tumblr seems to act a little funky sometimes, which explains why the “Click here to submit” hyperlink on my site is not…hyperlinked…at the moment.

okay
How I’d probably look like when things don’t work

For now, more testing  on-going.