About Precipice:

In collaboration with Global EESE, a student team at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, BC has been working on an interactive simulation. The simulation intends to make vivid some of the future scenarios developed by Global EESE. The experience takes place in a 3D environment where the player is presented with a familiar scene set in the present day and a future scene set in 2032.

The future scenario manifests the worst outcomes of the present scenarios. Within the 3D environment are a series of characters with whom the player can interact. Through these conversations the player learns of the characters situations and perspectives on the environment. As the conversations progress the player makes certain decisions, influencing the characters to be more aware of the environment and potential risks. If the player successfully convinces the characters to be more aware they create a positive change in the future. The player can move between the future and the present as they complete puzzles and conversations to see the effects of their choices. When the game is completed a montage depicting the future sums up the consequences of the players choices.

The simulation was built in the game engine Unity using traditional game design methodology combined with the research and work of Global EESE.

The team at the Centre for Digital Media consists of artists, game designers, writers, and programmers.

The process behind Precipice.

My Role:

Our initial project assignment was to create a “vivid” and “human” representation of scenario data compile by the Department of Energy. To meet these needs I worked with our lead game designer to create the concept of Precipice. Officially I held the role of Team Lead on the project, but I also assisted in a number of other areas in addition to scheduling the project and integrating the work of team members.

A key component of our game is the dialogue engine which display the comic panels in sync with audio clips and text. We originally purchased a pre-built dialogue engine, knowing we did not have time to start from scratch, but it quickly became apparent we had needs that would require lots of customization. As the most experience coder on the team, I worked with the designer and art team to create the comic layout system and modify the dialogue file format to speed development of our specific product.

One of the greatest challenges on this project was the sheer amount of content we had to create, and I utilized my visual art skills to assist the art team in keeping on schedule. Working with our writing team, I designed all of the in-game posters, bulletin boards, and narrative artifacts such as the newspapers. I also created a number of the comic panels, following a style guide created by our art lead.

The last major component I created was the User Interface for tracking as players progress and displaying text on the screen. We had initially wanted a minimal UI, but through play testing it became apparent we needed more feedback in our game. Since everyone else was still working hard on getting content finalized, I took on the task of designing and coding the UI.

Precipice was an ambitious project, we started with global scenarios and distilled that information down into one 3D Café and 400+ comic panels in two time zones. Due to the level of skill and dedication the team brought to the effort, we were able to complete all major features and deliver a product the client loved without having to work significant overtime or extend our schedule. There remains, as with any project, many good ideas left on the cutting room floor, but I am proud of what we accomplished.


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