Breakdown of Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset and Integrating with Unity3d and Jibe

Oculis RiftI’m eagerly awaiting my own developer version of the Oculus Rift, which should arrive in about a month.

My plans are to immediately start working on how to best integrate it with Jibe and Unity3d.

In particular, our newly released Jibe 2.0 has a built-in 1st-person perspective mode that is ideal for things like virtual reality headsets.

Exploring a test Jibe 2.0 world in 1st-person perspective

Exploring a multiuser Jibe 2.0 world in 1st-person perspective.

Keep an eye on this blog for future details.

Needless to say, I was very excited to see the folks at iFixit posting a great teardown of the developer version of the Oculus Rift headset.

oculus-rift-teardown

If you have an Oculus Rift and would like to brainstorm with me on how it can be integrated with multiuser virtual world applications, please drop me an email (john.e.lester@gmail.com) or post in the comments.

Perhaps we can also schedule a Team Fortress 2 game while using our headsets!

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer, ReactionGrid Inc.

P.S.  ReactionGrid’s Lead Developer Matthew Bertrand is also getting an Oculus Rift dev kit.  He’s pretty psyched about it, and we all expect amazing things from him!

How to embed and play a video on an object in Unity3d and Jibe

step 06 play movie

Watching “Hedgehog in the Fog” in my Jibe world.

Note: You’ll need the Unity Pro editor if you want to work with Movie Textures in Unity3d.

Unity3d allows you to embed and play videos on any surface in a 3d environment.

This means you can easily create a web-based Jibe world where avatars explore a multiuser 3d virtual space while watching videos or movies playing on screens/signs/any surface you wish.

The most common way to add video to a Unity3d project is by adding a video file to your project’s Asset Folder, which automatically creates a Movie Texture (details here).

However, adding a video file directly to your project means the size of the video file will be added to the final size of your completed Unity webplayer file.  In other words, if your video clip is 50 Megabytes large, then your Unity webplayer file will have an extra 50 Megabytes added on to it.

For folks creating Jibe worlds with Unity3d (or anyone creating Unity webplayer files for streaming on the Web) this is not good.  You always want your webplayer file to be as small as possible so your webplayer file will finish downloading and start running as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can download/stream a movie from the Web so it doesn’t add to the size of your Unity webplayer file.  Unity will immediately start playing the movie as soon as it has buffered enough of it, similar to how YouTube works.

Here’s a simple example:

Step 1: Get your video ready as an OGG file on the Web

If you have a video on YouTube that you want to use, you’ll have to download it.  I suggest using Flash Video Downloader.

Unity needs videos to be in OGG format (file extension .ogg).  If you need to convert an existing video file into OGG format, I suggest using VLC (it’s free and cross platform).  Take your OGG video, put it on a webserver somewhere and remember the URL.

Important Note: If you’re managing your own webserver, be sure it has the MIME type for Ogg Vorbis enabled.  For Extension use .ogg, and for MIME type use application/ogg.

Here’s a sample 60 Megabyte OGG video I made and uploaded to WordPress.  Feel free to use this URL in your own tests.  You can also click on it to see how it plays in your browser.
http://becunningandfulloftricks.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/hedgehog_in_the_fog.ogg

Step 2: Create a Cube

In this example, we’re going to make a basic cube and have the video play on its surface.  Of course you could flatten the cube so it looks likes a screen and then place it on a model of a TV or something.  I’m just being lazy.

step 01 creating a cubestep 02 creating a cube

Step 3: Create a new Javascript

I like the name of a script to remind me what the script actually does, so I’m going to call this new script ClicktoPlayWebMovie.

step 03 create a new javascript script

Here’s the code.  Copy and paste this into your new script and save it.

var url = "http://becunningandfulloftricks.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/hedgehog_in_the_fog.ogg";
function OnMouseDown () {
 // Start download
 var www = new WWW(url);
// Make sure the movie is ready to start before we start playing
 var movieTexture = www.movie;
 while (!movieTexture.isReadyToPlay)
 yield;
// Initialize texture to be 1:1 resolution
 renderer.material.mainTexture = movieTexture;
// Assign clip to audio source
 // Sync playback with audio
 audio.clip = movieTexture.audioClip;
// Play both movie & sound
 movieTexture.Play();
 audio.Play();
}
// Make sure we have audio source
@script RequireComponent (AudioSource)
function Update () {
}

You can see at the top of the script that I’ve included my demo URL as the default movie URL.  You can always change it later.

Step 4: Add ClicktoPlayWebMovie script to your cube

Drag the ClicktoPlayWebMovie script from your Project folder onto the Cube in your Scene view.  This will add the script to the cube.

step 04 drag javascript to cube

Now select your Cube in the Scene view and look at the Inspector settings.  You can change the movie URL by simply editing the URL field in the Inspector.

Also notice that there is an Audio Source added to the Cube.  This was added automatically when you added the script to the Cube, since the script needs an Audio Source component to work.  Don’t delete or modify the Audio Source component.  Just leave it be.

step 05 script in cube - check audio component and movie url

Step 5: You’re done.  Test it out!

You can run your Jibe world locally in the Unity editor and test it out that way.  Walk up to the cube and click on it.  The movie will start playing on all surfaces of  the cube.

step 06 play movie

You can also view an online version of this demo in my own Jibe world.

Enjoy!

-John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer, ReactionGrid Inc.

Attention H.P. Lovecraft fans: “NecronomiCon Providence” August 23rd -25th, 2013

necronomicon-providence-capital-building-riTo say that I am excited about this upcoming conference would be a gross understatement.

Check out their website for details.  And if you’d like to help the organizers bootstrap even more cool events for the conference (as well as receive some most excellent rewards for yourself), check out their Kickstarter campaign.

Here’s a summary:

NecronomiCon Providence is a many-faceted convention exploring the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and fellow writers of Weird Tales, past and present.
Our theme is The Rational and the Supernatural – an exploration of the intersection of science and art that lays at the foundation of the “Cthulhu Mythos” genre.
We seek to pay proper homage to The Old Gentleman of Providence and his literary offspring, including numerous activities to highlight the town HPL loved and called home – PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island.

Subjects to be explored over a three-day event:

  • Literature – Horror, Sci-Fi, Mythology, Weird Tales of all sorts…
  • Science and Exploration – Astronomy, Archaeology, Biology…
  • History – Primordial, Pre-Colombian, Colonial, 1920s…
  • Culture – Art, Cinema, Theater, Music, Poetry, Food, Bars, Tattoos…
One of the Kickstarter rewards, a bust of H.P. Lovecraft.

One of the Kickstarter rewards, a bust of H.P. Lovecraft.

Like a call from the great depths of the oceans, or a discordant whistle from the dark reaches of the universe, I have heard the siren song of this most auspicious event.

I shall be in attendance.  Will you?

- John “Pathfinder” Lester

Speaking at “Train for Success” Panel on the Future of Virtual Worlds – Nov 8 @ noon Eastern

The Gronstedt Group hosts a weekly “Train for Success” speaking series, and this week I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on the State and Future of Virtual Worlds.

The panel will be held in Second Life and starts on Thursday November 8 at noon Eastern. You can also watch and ask questions via the live stream on the web.

For more details, please see Facebook. Here’s a summary:

“The landscape of virtual worlds is changing. Social and game mechanics make virtual worlds more engaging. Browser-based virtual worlds make them more accessible to a wider audience. The panel will discuss the state and future of virtual worlds. Join this conversation about the emerging platforms and applications of virtual worlds in learning and business.”

Hope to see you there, and special thanks to Anders Gronstedt for inviting me to participate.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester