Exercise in Immersion 4.1

Marnix de Nijs’ research continues his earlier investigation into immersive experiences. The relationship between the real world and the virtual one is explored and brought into focus; the two are literally mixed in the “real world” in a search for a new balance. The goal of the research is to acquire better insight into the artistic possibilities of immersion in general and augmented reality in particular.

Exercise in Immersion 4.1

Screenshot Exercise in Immersion 4.1


During Marnix de Nijs’ residency, work was done on the demo Exercise in Immersion 4.1. This demo is based on classic Pac-Man gameplay. The player moves through the “real world,” collecting snacks or bionts. Amassing bionts causes the “real world” to slowly disappear and be replaced by a virtual copy of itself. At first, the copy matches the real world, but gradually, as the player collects more bionts, the copy becomes more and more manipulated. Thus the player slowly leaves the real world and ultimately finds him- or herself in a world different to the one he or she physically inhabits. Pac-Man’s peaceful collecting game thread alternates with a more active Space Invaders game thread, in which virtual objects are fired at the player and he or she has to avoid them. The bionts collected earlier now serve as a shield. Whenever a virtual object hits the player, he or she loses some bionts and is visually punished. The game ends when the player runs out of bionts.

In order to achieve an exact copy of the real world, a point cloud scanner was developed during the residency. This is a kind of camera that can make a three-dimensional virtual representation of a room. During the residency, the scanner was built and software was written for controlling the scanner and converting the acquired data into a usable format. Software was also written for processing the point clouds and exporting them to different 3D packages. Finally, we optimized the point clouds by dividing them so that they were readable by VGE and could be used in a real-time 3D rendering engine.

In addition to the point cloud software development, we made an interface between VGE and Max/MSP. This interface allows the artist to update and save different values during the game. It is thereby easier for the artist to adapt the game and thematically and visually fine-tune his or her work without having to alter the demo code. The programmer, in turn, can indicate which values he or she wants available in the interface. 

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