For Duck's Sake - 3D Modeling, Character Animation
Building Virtual Worlds - Round 1
Development Duration: 2 Weeks
Developed in Unity for HTC Vive
Artists: Bryan Kim, Euna Park
Sound: Joshua Danzig
Producer: Euna Park
We decided to attempt a more unique experience by having our experience's guest be virtually chest deep in water, with two distinct environments above (bathroom) and below (ocean) the water. The most entertaining idea to us was that crouching and looking under the water would be an essential part of the gameplay.
As our programmers got to work on creating two separate environments in Unity, Bryan and I got to work crafting the aesthetic of both environments.
He claimed the shark (very willingly, with the mission to make it as terrifying as humanly possible) and I got to work on making and animating an appealing duck.
The primary motivations behind the duck's design were the following:
- It needed to be the embodiment of helpless cuteness to compel the guest to help it.
- The animation needed to be eye-catching and appealing
With these drives in mind, the inital design came out like this. The wings and feet, though not typical for rubber ducks, was to serve the appeal of the animation.
After receiving positive feedback from the team, I did a panicky swim loop animation to test the appeal of the rig. I chose the panicky swim because at the time, the guest would see the duck in its panicked state for the majority of the time (because sharks). That test ended up looking like this, to the delight of my teammates and desk-mates:
An important factor we needed for gameplay was a target for the duck to aim at. After some team discussion, we decided the duck's motivating factor was that it is trying to get back to its family. We ran into an issue with this, as we needed to understand how the duck's family was safe from the sharks when the duck itself was not. We initially thought that putting the duck family on the side of the tub would be the solution, but the biggest problems with this were:
- The guest's only interaction with the world was with a showerhead. How could a showerhead pick up a duck?
- If it was necessary to pick up the duck to put it on the side of the tub, why would the duck be required to swim to safety at all?
We abandoned the idea of putting the ducks on the side of the tub then, and opted for this solution instead:
After receiving our interim presentation feedback, we revisited the design of the ducks and removed the wings and feet to make them more like rubber ducks. This meant that the expressiveness had to all be conveyed through just the head and beak motions, an interesting challenge from an animation perspective. To cheat the restriction, I added a lot of expressive body movement as well