technical architecture.

Archive for April, 2013

Virtual Reality with Hydra, now with Swords, Swarms, and Webcams!

by on Apr.21, 2013, under Architecture, Interactive, Oculus, Unity3D

EDIT 6: 5-12 Version:

  • Added in option for making the hydra controller forward be the look direction.
  • Added some basic swarming boxes/drones in to the scene, and a sword to play with to beat said swarm up. you’ll find options on the wall menu to enable the sword, add or remove from the swarm, and kill them all.
  • Added a webcam plane to the scene, and also one to the corner of the player camera for use as a ‘hud’ with head mounted cameras.. It might be interesting with a wide angle lens, but my webcam was pretty boring! It is neat to see the video playback ‘huge’ on the wall though. that was nicer quality than I thought it would be.
  • It can come in handy when setting yourself up with the Hydra as head tracking gig if you have an ourward facing camera on the laptop like I do.
  • Re-arranged the hand hierarchy so we can grab/move/throw things with both hands now, which should lead to scaling objects shortly.

“Dad, are you making this stuff? You gonna be wacking the things? It is fun to play with” – My 6 year old, after smacking swarmed boxes, and throwing cubes at the webcam picture of my face for 5 minutes and giggling uncontrollably.

Just updated the contents of the ZIP, same download link:  Download HERE

It’s about time to do another video soon, sorry I haven’t yet, video recording is not nearly as much fun as working on random things! 🙂



EDIT5: 5-8 Version:

  • Added this ‘Hydra as positional head tracking‘ thing that everyone is talking about, there’s a button on the wall to enable it, just attach the hydra to your head somehow, then hit the button for fun and profit.
  • There’s a light saber here, It doesn’t really do anything yet, but I’m sure you can see where this must go (Especially if you can ‘dodge’ someone elses attack.. *wink*
  • You can throw the player now with the LeftButton2, not for the faint of heart, but kinda fun.
  • Did some experimenting with a large particle system, basically a a point cloud from microsoft ImageSynth, experiment failed when you can’t stop the particle system from blinking out of existence when it falls out of your camera frustrum, making it pointless to try and have a huge (in world scale) particle system, It still looks pretty RAD, as long as you keep the rough center of the system in camera, you can check it out by hitting right Shift key, then selecting Cloud from the scenes menu
  • Disabled the ‘Gaze Look’ when there is no rift attached as it doesn’t make sense in HydraOnly modes
  • fixed a case where the camera direction could end up NaN and the world goes black. (sounds ominous no?)


Download HERE


EDIT3: Met up with Ben Lang the other day to geek out and view all the latest community demos, He did a nice write up and video of my toys: you should read it


EDIT2: I’m throwing an update out here with a bunch of new stuff, mostly aimed at making it easier to get someone up and running than explaining 40 button combinations!

  • Smoothed out the startup process of configuring the HYDRA some.
  • Integrated a UI system with the hydra hands! there are Context menu items on wrist menu, floating buttons in the world space, and menu/toolbars that are in the player space
  • the BUMPER button on the controllers is the equivalent of mouse click
  • the pointer finger on the hands is the equivalent of the mouse position
  • right now there is a shortcut on Right-3 to show/hide a radial menu with a few toys in there. (Looking down there is a button near your feet to do the same thing
  • Scale the world (bit buggy and slow, but an interesting effect to change the world scale to giant (Try throwing one of the blocks when it is the size of a house for instance..)
  • Change the color of the lines that you can draw using the Right-1
  • The RightTrigger will pick things up, you can now throw them
  • The LeftTrigger will copy objects..
  • There is a right wrist menu (eh..) If you are holding an object with the right hand, you can move your left hand over your wrist to pop up a context menu to toggle gravity on that object, delete object, or copy object
  • there is a ‘delete last 5 copied objects’ button out on one of the walls incase you copy a million things and it starts to get slow (There is no optimization in here yet, it’s just a clusterfuck of a playground’
  • There is a ‘GAZE STEERING’ thing which somewhat works, there is a button on the wall to show the colliders used for that, which will pretty much explain it better than words.. but basically, if you look ~90 degrees to the right, it will rotate your body slowly to the right.

New download link: Download HERE

Got a chance to do a little more work on my prototype, It’s shaping up to be a lot of fun to mess with. There’s still a ways to go before it ends up like that ol world building video everyone’s seen, but It’s coming along nicely!

I squashed a lot of bugs, made the base environment faster, and I found a few more fun things that I think everyone should try~!



Download HERE

first video capture! It’s come a long way since this already.

General control theme: Right hand to interact with scene, Left hand to modify how we interact.

Neat notes and changes from the previous version:

  • You can now grab objects with the [Right Trigger]
  • objects that you can drag also affect the player, so for instance, Grab one of the Blue platforms, and stand on it.. now lift up your hand.. but not tooo far! now that you’ve got floating down, use the [LeftThumbstick] to add forward. and you can also use the [RightThumbstick] to rotate.. BANG! Accidental magic carpet/hoverboard/flying effect. – We could probably do with simplifying the controls some, but this sort of happened by accident with the stuff I was making!
  • While you are moving objects, you can ‘Clone’ them with the [Left Trigger]
  • you can also ‘Toggle gravity’ on them using the [Left Button 1]
  • you can also ‘Delete’ them with the [Right Wrist Menu]
  • It’s possible to create pretty neat mousetrap type things with just the cubes/platforms and basketballs.
  • most of the scene is now grabbable/movable… try raising the roof! you can really make a good old mess here, and it’s a lot more fun than I was expecting to take apart a building. I think it’ll be even more fun when we can put the scenes together. (SOOOON)
    • some of the higher res bits you may not want to clone too many times, like the basketball hoop.. It’s not a very optimized model right now, so each copy adds a lot of draw calls.
  • You can still draw lines with the [RightButton1]
  • You can still ‘shoot’ balls with the [RightButton4]
  • You can still free move the player with the [LeftButton2]
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My mashup of Unity experiments (Hydra/Oculus Rift/Spatial Graffiti)

by on Apr.17, 2013, under Interactive, Oculus, Unity, Unity3D

AKA: Things I play with instead of sleeping, after my son goes to bed.

EDIT: hey there people coming from Bruces video! check out the newer version for a nicer demo: cheers! 😀


Architecture – an interactive basketball arena 3d scene to wander around. Loosely based off of a project that we didn’t get paid for, so, mileage ++!
Hydra – for movement, and glory!
Line work – Spatial Graffiti, draw lines in 3d space with the hydra, It’s more fun than you’d think.
Basketball – kinda. It wasn’t too exciting, so it’s more or less removed by now.

How it works:

  • Rift, head tracking turns the player’s viewpoint, it just works? Thanks oculus!
  • Hydra, unity integration is nice, thanks!
    • Base unit:
      • Leave yourself enough room between the unit and the monitors! NO MONITOR PUNCHING ON MY WATCH!
      • I’ve found it works best if you have the controllers ‘docked’ at game start. It just saves some configuration hassle.
      • Pick up the controllers from the base station, move them to a comfortable position closer to your body, about as far away from each other as they appear in the rift view, and click the ‘Start’ buttons (The vertical button between the 1 and the 2 buttons) to take control of the hands.


  • Right Hand:
    • Thumb stick turns the player body.
    • Button 1: Points the finger, begins drawing a line in 3d space.
    • While button 1 is down, how much the trigger is depressed controls the width of the line, up to a point.
    • button 4 will launch a basketball, holding the button adds power per frame, letting go fires it off.. I know I know, throwing motions.. soon.
  • Left Hand:
    • Thumb stick moves the players body
    • Button 2: Points the finger, Inserts a ‘move’ helper near the hand
    • While button 2 is down, hold the trigger down to ‘MOVE’ the player body in 3d space. The movement isn’t 1:1, so go gentle to start.. but everyone I’ve tried it on has been moving this thing almost as fast as you can move your arm within 30 seconds, with minimal icky stomach feels.
    • The icky stomach feels is one of the main things I would like some feedback on, so I can pursue or steer differently.


The main OVR menu scripts are in there, so if you manage to say, jump off of the world ‘by accident’ and look up at the things receding, you can hit the Right Shift key, and then Return to reset the scene.

Things I’m working on and experimenting with still

  • UI stereoficiation, NGUI draws well, but need something better than shooting a ray out for interaction. So far I don’t like the feel of the sixsense UI bits. working on some things here.
  • Networking. Multiple people in a small space drawing stuff, So far it works on lan, but who really has 2 rifts/hydras they can put in a room? I’ll figure it out!
  • Fly mode for the hydra, throttle style movement, basics started, but needs some tweaking before it’ll not make people feel strange.
  • 1:1 rotations, started, but I wanted some feedback on other stuff first!
  • Holding both bumpers will allow you to scale the player height/viewpoint up based on how close/far the ‘hands’ are from each other. nearly works, just a little too fall-thru-the-floory for my tastes to leave it enabled in this version.

I do architectural interactive/animation/work for a paycheck (haha, I know right!), so I spend a lot of time working with the fundamental problem of how to get non-game people empowered to get around in 3d space. I love toying with 3d spatial navigation systems, so being able to immerse in space with the Rift and prototype with the responsiveness of the hydra has been a lot of fun for me this week. There’s a lot more to play with here!

Most of my position/rotation stuff is made for placing items in the world, but the hydra tuscany demo covers a decent portion of the basics of that idea already. Besides, it was fun to mess with the player positions/orients, so that’s what I’m playing with so far.

So, if by chance you made it this far into my ramblings, here is the link to download the test app and give it a go!:

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