Extending Virtual Worlds: Advanced Design for Virtual Environments
Available on Amazon
Written by an Emmy award-winning designer with 22 years of experience designing virtual environments for television and online communities, Extending Virtual World Design: Advanced Design for Virtual Environments explores advanced topics in scripting, multi-regional design and narrative structure for environments viewed with a Head Mounted Display (HMD).
With over 150 illustrations and 10 step-by-step projects, the book delivers hours of creative challenges for people working in public virtual worlds or on private grids.
Using the modular components available for download on the author’s website, readers learn by building such things as a multi-level castle, and other advanced topics such as using photogrammetry and procedural scripts to make content for the virtual environment.
This book can be the foundation for class work in distance learning, simulation, and other learning technologies that use virtual environments. It shows both novices and advanced users how to build content to be used in virtual worlds, and works as a second semester option for usage in a full year program for the virtual world learning technologies programs.
Virtual World Design: Creating Immersive Virtual Spaces
Available on Amazon
Virtual World Design lays out a significant amount of bedrock knowledge for the virtual environment designer. Novice designers will find a comprehensive guide to the fundamental concepts of 2D graphic, 3D model, lighting and sound design, and how this is used in the creation of an immersive virtual environment. More advanced designers can utilize this book as a syllabus for teaching classes about virtual environments, learning technologies and online education. With 200 illustrations and 12 step by step projects involving virtual classroom construction, terrain design, and prototype design, this book delivers hours of creative challenges for the virtual environment designer in public virtual worlds, or on their own private institutional or educational grids.
Since 2008, the members of Ann Cudworth Projects / Alchemy Sims have built such notable projects as:
“Extending Virtual Worlds – Game-based Sim” a four region game based environment developed for the projects in the text book, “Extending Virtual Worlds”.
“Virtual World Design” a 16 region grid containing 9 project-based sims developed for the text book “Virtual World Design”.
"In Land - Search for the Sy", a game/sim involving a hunt and build challenge for the participants, designed for rapid game development and deployment in a virtual world like Second Life. (Closed 2011)
"Beach Ride” a whole sim devoted to 3d visualization and 3d data display through the use of large scale kinetic sculpture. (Closed Dec 2010)
"Particles/Alchemy” interactive Sim that tells the story of the Alchemists and sets up a treasure hunt (closed Dec 2009)
“Trees/Sundial” Region in Second Life, Second Life's only season changing Sim (Closed March 2008)
“Second Life 6th, 7th, and 8th Birthday” celebration events. We were guest designers invited to participate in the birthday celebrations of Linden Labs Second Life. Our exhibits have included 3 giant "Pop-up" books (2009), that told the visitors three original stories in text and 3-D visual presentation animations as well as "Poetry Slam" games (2010) for making many styles of poetry on the "refrigerator magnets" we provide.
Alchemy Sims is dedicated to virtual space building and creating sim designs that support your concepts and marketing goals.
Here are some comments about their work:
"The mission of the IBM Exhibition Space is to support the creation of full-scale interactive installations that make use of the special properties of virtual worlds. I was initially intrigued by the Alchemy proposal because of the high quality of the submission, which even included proposal drawings. Alchemy group met the large scale requirement without issue and their professionalism impressed me, but what made the proposal truly interesting was the inclusion of gaming and interactive elements. I look forward to joining the Search for the Sy!" - Andrew Sempere - IBM
“By being a game, Search for the Sy challenges artists in Second Life to raise the stakes in their own game.” - Dividni Shostakovich
“Second Life Search for the Sy - Spectacular!” - Honor McMillian
Our Outlook on Data Visualization
This is where Ann Cudworth Projects / Alchemy Sims lives- hovering between Art and Science- we live to work on the creation of new things, new bridges between these 2 realms with new ideas in data visualization and 3-D data display.
Here are 2 of our projects:
Memonic: Real-Time Observation of Twitter streams (pictures below)
Tidal Mill: Data-based Kinetic Sculptures (pictures below)
Data- what's that? It is the documentation of change, but could it also be an engine? What if it could animate something, the same way a motion capture file animates our avatars? Kinetic sculpture- data driven and living in a virtual world- that is part of what we build. We find new ways to create 3-D data display every week, finding structures that embellish the information, and augment the viewer’s perception.
Here are some of our guiding theories and formulas.
S.O.T.D- "Spirit of the Data"- in spite of the noise, in spite of the gaps, what is the data trying to show us? We humans, are very good at piecing together a whole picture from bit parts, some of us actually enjoy a good jigsaw puzzle. When you dump those numbers out on the table- what shape does it take in your mind? It's not just 3-D data display- it's a captured experience- like the rings in a tree capture the climatologically information and create a natural form of data visualization in their rings.
No-U.B.S. "No Universal Belief System” Just because you expect something to happen, do not try to see it in your data visualization planning. Let go of the expectations, look at it from the corner of your eye, stay fresh and new to the experience.
I=D.S. "Interactivity = Data Selection” If you can interact with a device that sends out data, you will be automatically making data selection. When you collect data, what filters you chose, even just where you observe it from, all influence what meaning it will have to you.
Artistic Delivery of Data + Threshold of Interaction= Greater Engagement. An "artistic" approach makes you engage with data. Is the data cyclical, linear, and phased? What are its internal rhythms, its music, and how is that displayed? Will it be Bell Curves? Will the data create a sculptural display of information- that allows us to understand the influence of several factors simultaneously as we walk around it observing its form?
Immersion in a Virtual World is compelling; immersion in a virtual world that is under the influence of data coming in from the real world is mind blowing. Think of it- how it works like a 2 way mirror, allowing us to see in and out at the same time.
The magic that is possible, the scale that is possible, the reach that is possible in a Virtual World allows us to share more, envision more, and understand more. How will we deal with that avalanche of new connections? How will we make music from the cacophony? What will it lead us to?
Games and Game-based Environments
Virtual environments, like real-world environments, tend to be designed in accordance with the meaning and message of group goals. If you are designing a virtual environment to train people, or teach people, or engage people in a group activity, then you have probably been introduced to the idea of making these activities more game like to enhance the overall efficacy of your efforts. This is the conceptual heart of a game-based virtual environment, it is a virtual environment designed to deliver the meaning and message of your group goals through game like activities.
What is a game anyway?
Although we have had games for thousands of years, technology keeps adding new aspects to the games we play.
In 2009, Ann Cudworth discovered that people would invent and play games in the environments that Alchemy Sims built. It started with Sundial, the season changing sim. Then they made Alchemy/Particles and set up a hunt game on that sim. 2 years later they were making multi-level puzzle and hunt game-based sims for the entertainment and enjoyment of the avatars in Second Life.
Working with Deb Thomas at Silly Monkey Games, Ann Cudworth Projects / Alchemy Sims has developed serious games like “Tribe”, a game about indigenous peoples.
In her new book “Extending Virtual Worlds”, Ann Cudworth leads the reader through the process of developing and building a game-based sim.