One mass extinction event wasn’t enough! Earth’s remaining dinosaur population is making a comeback. In Vox Rocks Dino Destroyer, you can blast through four levels of block-filled action with the power of magnetics, color coordination, and broken dino teeth. Created by Mark Mayer, Dino Destroyer is the 4th place winner of the 3D Jam VR Track.
But before the dinosaur apocalypse, there was A Vox Eclipse – a desktop game that lets you design block creations by combining hand gestures with traditional button controls. Rotate, re-position and highlight your model with your dominant hand, and use your other hand to click or type to command the tools you need. We caught up with Mark to talk about his development process and how he made the jump from desktop to VR.
A Vox Eclipse
Inspired by apps like Sculpting, Mark’s original idea behind A Vox Eclipse “was that using a combination of physical buttons for activated input and Leap Motion’s hand positioning for a fully 3D cursor could help me interact a lot more effectively by taking best of both worlds. I was already working on some voxel ideas in Unity and rolled them in to create A Vox Eclipse.”
A Vox Eclipse is open sourced on GitHub and was built in Unity, Visual Studio (Community Edition), and Adobe Illustrator. “Most of my scripting is done in a separate Visual Studio project which builds managed code DLLs that are automatically deployed to my Unity project. I appreciate the added modularity the DLLs create without needing to import and export Unity packages, and it makes for a trimmer Unity project overall. For A Vox Eclipse, I used Illustrator to create the basic block palettes and the overall UI as easily scaleable vector art.”
“From a learning perspective, I could see it used as a very rudimentary introduction to the world of 3D modeling. Creating things with virtual blocks is a lot simpler than placing verts on a mesh and being able to move your hand in 3D space around a model can be more intuitive than trying to manipulate a camera to correctly position a 2D camera.”
Vox Rocks Dino Destroyer
Development on Vox Rocks started after we visited Philly during the 2015 3D Jam Tour. “A few friends and I spent the next day or so kicking around ideas that focused on some of the bigger points made during Leap Motion’s presentation. Specifically, taking advantage of hand presence and the existence of depth perception. We landed on the idea of a ‘physics’ shooting gallery and development iterated on making that fun right up to the deadline. I kept a work in progress video channel going every week or so and flipping through it sort of illustrates the the game’s idea taking shape.”
“I’ve walked away with a much greater appreciation for new players and for getting their help prototyping new interactions as early as possible. Learning what hand motions are (and are not) making sense up front saves major time down the line. Ideas that just make sense after hours of playing with the Leap Motion Controller can (and most likely are) totally alien to a new player. So, if I can’t get my gamer friends to start understanding my game’s controls after a few sentences, I should probably start looking real hard at what it is I’m asking them to do.”
“That aside, there have been a lot of lessons learned around game development and Unity in general. Leap Motion’s Unity API documentation pages, the forums and (of course) Stack Overflow have been invaluable in getting this far. For my next VR project I’m looking to pull in a lot of the creation mechanics from A Vox Eclipse. I think the next goal is to put together a game that asks players build things up in addition to blowing them apart. For example, Superstruct was another personal jam entry favorite. I really liked its core use of user generated terrain to solve the given puzzles. I’m looking forward to working with that concept and seeing how it plays with Vox Rock’s shooting and magnetic puzzle mechanics.”