Students turn a Matterport Space into an educational game


The best video games are remembered because they can convincingly instill a strong sense of place. You become someone else, immersed in another world. All narrative media - whether games, film, or novels - must communicate a total sense of a world if it is to truly engage its audience. Imagine reading Lord of the Rings without descriptions of Mordor, or watching a movie without any establishing shots. It would be nearly impossible to feel connected to the world of the creator’s imagination.

Now imagine that you have a vision that you want to translate into a video game, but you don't have knowledge of the necessary software to do so. Beyond this, worldbuilding is time-consuming and difficult. Creating a sense of realism is difficult, requiring significant pre-work before you ever get to those final stylistic flourishes.

What if there were a way to easily, accurately capture the exact scene you wanted? What if you could transport people into a virtual world without lengthy and costly development cycles?

Enter Matterport: a quick, easy solution for creating virtual environments from the real world. And a student group at Harvey Mudd College has already proven it possible in their iOS game, Disorientation.

Using the Matterport Pro Camera, the team of students captured the labyrinths of their university clinic hallways for a simple game built to orient new students to a real-world clinic. Before Matterport, they would have had to professionally photograph their surroundings. Those 2D textures would then be painstakingly applied to a 3D model that, itself, had been meticulously created in special - and expensive - CAD software. The work rapidly expands beyond the scope of what many have the time or resources to achieve.

Matterport cuts out the middle man. It doesn’t just capture images; it captures whole environments and their spatial relationships.

With every image taken, the students were able to record real dimensions, to quickly create a true-to-life 3D representation of their world in virtual reality. The result was an accurate virtual representation of their real-life university clinic.

The game itself is basic, but thoughtful. With the environment expedited, each student was able to go about the crucial work of creating the game’s core mechanics - throwing, moving, examining items. They had time to implement creative touches, like inside jokes for their campus community, or interactions with real-world actions like standing up. In short, they spent more time finessing actual gameplay, and less time on basic groundwork for the game, thanks to Matterport.

As gamers demand more and more real locations, Matterport will increasingly be used to help game designers easily craft their world. Whether imitation of our real world is used for the entirety of a title, or just for key parts, it's obvious that Matterport can help the indie tinkerer as much as it can help the AAA game developer. As long as there are stories to tell, and those stories occur in places, Matterport will be there.

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