Astronautics Simulation Project

For Kingston University

About:

This simulation was created as part of my Masters course for my Digital Studio Practise module. The simulation was created for Kingston University’s Astronautics department, for use in open days. The target audience for this project was potential students who would were looking to enrol for undergraduate study. The aim was to have this running during an open day to show off potential problems that could be overcome, in an attractive, interactive way. The project was based off a previous dissertation written about a potential theoretical journey to Neptune. The simulation was created using Unity and the Oculus Rift (DK2).

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My Role:

My role on the project was lead programmer, responsible for the bulk of the simulation implementation. Other responsibilities on the project were:

Project Lead – Ensuring the overall project was running well and we were meeting Sprint deadlines

Technical Lead – Investigating technical solutions and alternatives such as game engines, hardware, tools and potential pitfalls/risks

GUI creation – Crosshairs, context panels, tooltips etc.

Sound creation/Implementation – Narration and music.

The Simulation:

The overall simulation is broken into 5 main parts, the main menu and 4 minigames. The main menu was constructed to be a level in itself. This new menu allows the user to select a minigame from 4 different panels which hover above the floor. The user is also able to navigate around the room and look at the various satellites and other eye-candy dotted around the level. The user selects a level by looking at the desired panel and pressing Enter or A on the gamepad.

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Minigame 1 - Weather Analyser

The objective of this minigame is to navigate around Neptune and spot various weather anomalies. The user has a simple GUI consisting of a crossair and a context panel. Once the user spots a weather anomaly (by looking at it through the crossair) a message pops up at the bottom in the form of a context GUI panel. Once this occurs a voice over narration also starts to play explaining the weather anomaly in more detail.

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Minigame 2 - Infrared Spectrography

The user uses the RB/LB/RT/LT buttons on the pad or UIOP on the keyboard to select a infrared mode. Based on the mode selected they will be able to identify different objects in the galaxy they see infront of them. The users can view the level in 360 degrees and they are not constricted in anyway in terms of camera panning along any axis.

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Minigame 3 - Orbiter/Probe Walk

This minigame is a simple room and allows the user to walk around inside it. In this room the users will find a close up model of both an Orbiter and Probe proposed in the dissertation to be used for the mission to Neptune. These two models were recreated based on the CAD files provided by our supervisor. As much detail as possible was put into the recreation of these models in Blender. When the user walks up to one of these models and is close enough, the narrator will start narrating the background information about the Probe/Orbiter or other objects.

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Minigame 4 - Triton

This moon was created by one of our modelers, Begoña, and includes a normal mapped texture taken from actual images of Triton. This minigame is pretty similar to minigame one, however the objective here is to observe where the photo quality of the texture drops due to lack if imaging data. This is to show how our understanding on Triton can be increased by additional visits and investigation.

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