If you explore my Jibe world, you’ll find a windmill sitting on top of a hill.
I think it’s a nice example of how you can create an immersive scene in a virtual world by combining a few basic elements.
And it’s all about the small details.
Our perceptual experiences in the physical world are rich with contextually relevant details. Related sounds and movements all combine in our mind to build a sense of realism. We usually don’t notice these small details consciously. But if any of them are missing (“I hear the wind, but the grass is standing still!”), we typically get the feeling that something is off.
You begin to hear the wind blowing as you approach the base of the hill. The ferns on the hill are gently swaying back and forth, and a cloud of multicolor leaves are gusting across the peak. When you stand on the top of the hill and look up at the windmill, you can see it rotating and turning to face the wind while you hear the wood frame softly creaking in the background.
With my windmill, all I did was combine some simple sounds, object animations and particle effects. When combined, these contextually relevant details add up to create an experience that feels complete.
That’s what builds immersion in virtual worlds. Not the big or complicated things.
Like most things in life, it’s all about the details.