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UNITY VR PROJECT
THE VIRTUAL LANDSCAPE

DEMO

The primary purpose of this project is to examine and raise questions about the nature of VR headsets, as well as the overall experience around their use. Instead of creating a means of visiting some fantastical land or faraway place, I embraced the idea of a virtual world and made something that is obviously not real but made up of pixels, digital elements, and fake objects. After all, what's through that headset is only an image, even if it feels real. There are a few realistic objects scattered about the area, but in the end, it's very easy to be aware of the fact that you're really looking through a screen of sorts. This is certainly helped by the fact that the user has no means of traversing the land themselves: they are confined to one spot with only a few objects- and of course, their virtual buddy- for company.

The buddy represents the other VR experience-related idea I wanted to convey: the idea of reliance. When the user first looks through their headset, they can only reach a single apple; all the other items are too far away. Fortunately, the user can also instruct the buddy to move around in their stead by using the left controller's joystick; if the buddy walks into the objects, they will be kicked and pushed around. This allows for retrieving the items if they are pushed close enough. It is extremely easy to accidentally drop items or push them too far away again, which can be rather frustrating as they can also be hard to retrieve. This, too, is similar to an issue with VR- it's almost impossible to retrieve or interact with anything in the real world while you're stuck in the headset. That sensation of helplessness is represented here by the user's sheer inability to really do much of anything on their own.

All in all, this project gives off a certain sense of loneliness. There's not much to do, and what little there is to interact with is too far away most of the time unless the buddy can give you a hand. The buddy is able to explore the world freely while you are forced to sit around alone; you can watch as the buddy walks off into the horizon, but you can never follow. In a way, VR can be similar in how it's starting to be sold as a substitution for real world socialization and interaction. It could be revolutionary and wonderful, but there's just something inherently sad about really being alone in your room even when you are with others. Still, the digital world I have made is also in other ways mesmerizing, and reflects just how amazing it is that people can make their own worlds, real or not. I think ultimately what I have made represents the pros and cons of VR; the loneliness and awkwardness of it as well as the element of reliance, but also a sense of wonder that something like this can even exist.

This work was originally created in 2022 for a course I took during my time obtaining my bachelor's at UCSD, and was my first real foray into the world of 3D modeling and game engine development. The project was made in 10 weeks. As a result, it's a bit rough around the edges in execution, but I believe it still gets its point across.

THE AVATAR

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CONCEPT

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