The Final Year Project was a very significant piece of work which commenced October 2011 through to May 2012. A general outline of the project can be understood from the dissertation’s abstract.
Project Abstract With the number of applicants to British universities rising every year, thousands of prospective students attend open days to obtain more information about the available academic institutes and the courses available. Due to a number of circumstances, these students are sometimes unable to attend their desired university open day and currently there are only a few methods in which these students can obtain information without actually attending the universities themselves.
The following project is aimed to solve this problem by creating a virtual open day within a game level environment for the Nottingham Trent University. The virtual open day will be produced using the Source Engine and will be made playable via the top selling multi-platform ‘Half Life 2’ game. The Computing and Informatics Building (CIB) on the Clifton Campus will act as the focal area for the projects purposes, allowing students to explore and obtain university information from within the premises. Extensive research has been carried out, including over 100 reference photos of the building’s interior and exterior features. The open day has been modelled within the game level environment to its correct life size proportionate scale and its contents constructed using modelling manipulation software. The virtual open day provides the ability to explore the perimeter of the CIB and a large proportion of the ground floor. Over 100 textures and 40 customised models have been constructed to replicate the buildings appearance.
The open day was fully developed to its project planning specification and was supported by ongoing user feedback. Current students at the university agreed that there was a very close likeness between the virtual tours university construction and the real life building architecture. Further areas of improvement outside of the projects scope have been identified to potentially improve the effectiveness.
Final Year Project Poster
Please see my earlier blog posts for additional final year project information.
A gallery has been created below containing all examples of the models that were constructed for the purposes of the virtual open day; all models appear in (ascending/descending) order of their production date. The models have been presented in their rendered texture form to show their end appearance, their rendered wireframe view to showcase the geometry and the texture map images included to represent the texture production.
Model efficiency was always a primary consideration throughout all object developments. From most CIB viewing perspectives there will be a large number of models viewable to the user at one particular time, slower computer systems can sometimes struggle with large workloads so it was essential that model polygon, vertex and triangle count where kept as low as possible. This was due to one of the early project objectives which stated that ‘Efficient production of models to ensure that the end product is streamlined and accessible for all individuals’ system hardware specifications.’
Following the completion of my Final Year Project, I decided to take some ingame screenshots from the same location and viewing perspective as the reference photographs captured during the early research phases.
Upon viewing the photographs and ingame screenshots side by side (below), the similarity and likeness to the real-world environment and the digital simulation can be compared and appreciated.
University Building Exterior [Photograph]
University Building Exterior [Ingame Screenshot]
University Building Exterior 2 [Photograph]
University Building Exterior 2 [Ingame Screenshot]
Virtual Computing and Informatics Building Open Day for Prospective Students
It has come to my attention that many universities are trying to come up with new ways to advertise their facilities and to demonstrate the courses that they have on offer. NTU open days are a brilliant way of getting a feel for university life and for course information. However due to various constraints prospective students are often unable to attend i.e. availability, small number of open days, expense (particularly for international students).
I plan to use the half-life 2 source engine 2009 to develop a virtual open day based in and around the Computing and Informatics building (CIB) for prospective students, providing them with a realistic simulation of one of the most important buildings throughout their time at university. The end product will allow students to roam in and around the university building providing them with all the information they require for their desired course.
Accurate representation of the CIB building to ensure that level design consistency is maintained throughout the map. Width and length measurements of the building will be obtained from satellites; smaller objects will be measured manually.
Realistic textures will be designed using Adobe Photoshop, high resolution photographs will be taken inside and outside of the CIB building providing extensive research talking points and references for custom models/textures.
Models will be designed and textured using 3DS studio max application and then imported into the source engine with collision models to allow for a streamlined experience.
Professional level design and modelling techniques will be used to optimise usability and allow all individuals to be able to explore the area without performance issues.
Further scope ideas time permitting may include multiplayer map elements to allow players to explore the building simultaneously for a richer more interactive experience.
Previous students work can be displayed to demonstrate the learning outcomes of the different modules.