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).
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 In this respect, the Subzone could be regarded as an ever-growing amalgamation of this cycle which becomes outdated in content the moment it stops being updated.
I found myself growing interested in creating an ecosystem of sorts in the Subzone. The errors, glitches and maybe even the textures could have a life of their own. I came across the following video where apparently the movements of “creatures” were not predetermined (i.e. they moved based on algorithms). The way they kept bumping into each other and the little accidents happening among them was something that fascinated me a lot. Once I have locked down the rest of the environment in place in the virtual space, I could probably attempt to create looped animations of blocks of error codes which literally move through space and interact with the viewer.
I have started creating a YouTube playlist dedicated to Unity and started collecting tutorials and workarounds. Having a playlist curated will come in handy when I need to refer back to a particular video or process for reference.
The following below are some examples of animation work done in Maya, which will be exported to Unity as .fbx files. One thing I discovered a bit later on was that Unity does not support vertice animation, and I will be keeping this in mind while continuing the work on the project.
I have been busy exploring Unity 3D over the past week. Coming from a background in being more well-versed in Maya, the user interface and the controls in Unity were quite easy to get used to. The clean user layout allowed me to clearly navigate my way through getting used to working in Unity. I was also pleasantly surprised to know that Unity handles imported animations and models from Maya via the .fbx format. This got me thinking about possibly creating small animation tests and using them in Unity later on to test out animation triggers when users interact in this virtual space.
I had always wanted to tinker around with making games, and learning how to use Unity and it’s tools has been a pretty enjoyable experience so far. The wealth of tutorials and training archives on the Unity website proved to be immensely helpful as I found myself going through each of them to get a better understanding of the program I was working with. If there was one thing I wished I knew how to do, it’d be coding. I hung out around one of the livestreams on Twitch to catch Mike Geig conducting his free live training classes.
Another plus I discovered was that I could essentially export a test scene from Unity and use an online file storage site like Dropbox to host the game files. This means that I could just embed the url link in a blogpost or anywhere on the Internet, and users will be taken directly to the game when they click on it. With Unity, one thing that needs to be noted in that users will need to download and install the Unity webplayer plugin in order to use the interactive space.
To test this out, I created a simple setup scene in Unity where the textures of the virtual objects are screenshots of websites. In this example, I used a screenshot of my Facebook news feed as a shared texture, so all of the objects in the scene are covered by the same texture to give a sense of disorientation in this subspace. The user can navigate around the space with the WASD keys, spacebar to jump and move the mouse to look around.
The viewer is expected to be an active agent, to interact with and to navigate around the virtual subspace. Instead of being led on to do something, the viewer would have full freedom to explore the area of the subspace. The viewer will not be held back from leaving the “gamearea” so to speak, and he or she will be allowed to freeroam to any part of the world map within the virtual environment.
The viewer would be able to intereact with objects and artifacts in this subspace, which may trigger reactions to occur in other parts of the space. The viewer would then become a catalyst for visual changes to occur within the subspace.
Exploring the idea of the subspace within the third space.
An example would be in games where areas are closed off and characters are supposed to only roam within a restricted space. In some instances, venturing off from the restricted space creates penalties for the playaer (e.g. timelimit warning to return back to the “safe zone”, death). Other times, constant attempts to access the subspace within the third space in the games may cause corruption of data, unintended glitching and sometimes even crashing the game client. Can a player in the third space truly inhabit this space which is hidden from the naked eye? If so, at what cost to the other players or the game? How would this conflict with the intentions of the game itself?