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3D Dark and Scary Investigations: Episode 3 Project

3D Dark and Scary Investigations: Episode 3 Project

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3D Dark and Scary Investigations: Episode 3 Project

This report explains in detail the motivations and thought processes in designing and implementing the ‘3D Dark and Scary Investigations’ project. Dark and Scary Investigations 3 is a 3D computer game, situated in a ‘scary’ context, which has been in development to explore modern graphical techniques and interaction with virtual reality input hardware interfaces. The report details the following items:

  1. Background and Literature Survey: Including questionnaires and secondary research.
  2. 2. Design: Detailing how the work was split and the design of each component.
  3. 3. Implementation: Exploring issues that have arisen during implementation and changes made to the design.
  4. 4. Results: Covering how the end result interacts with the user.
  5. 5. Evaluation and Testing: Detailing how testing was accomplished and whether or not the end result met the design brief.

Project Context

3D Dark and Scary Adventures was assigned to two students, Lauren Hotchkiss and myself. The aim of it was to design a 3D scary game exploring different graphical techniques and virtual reality interfaces. After a meeting with the project supervisor, it became clear that the scope for this project was unlimited. However, by this time a decision had been agreed on making a scary game. Setting the game scenario in an abandoned hospital was strongly considered for the reasons that interesting effects including dripping blood and fire could be introduced. Interesting types of enemies could be introduced including zombies from the morgue or poltergeists of former employees. It would also give us scope to try out interesting weapons such as syringes, scalpels and even wheelchairs. Another reason why the idea appealed to us was that some interesting rooms could be created from the imagined scenario. Overall, the idea was liked owing to the different paths it would create for us to explore and it would also enable us to fully demonstrate the technical aspects of our work. A factor of a successful game had been identified as the gameplay. This would mean that our game must contain a good level of artificial intelligence (AI). It must also have a good story line. Secondly, it is noted that there should be high quality graphics; meaning experimentation with special effects, lighting and texturing had to be done to make the game as realistic as possible. In reality, a professional game could take around 3 years or more to develop [1] and that would need a team of anything between 50 to 100+ people developing it full time. This means that full concentration on getting a basic game to work, given the available time, was essential.

Motivation Behind the Project

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the gaming industry sales have been growing for at least the last ten years[2]. This shows the demand in the market for computer games and the demand for better games with higher quality graphics and better gameplay. Listed are a few facts from the ESA and various other sources, which show the importance of computer gaming in the entertainment industry.

  • The top three best selling computer game genres (in order) are strategy, family and shooter[2].
  • The games industry is one of the UK’s biggest industrial successes with sales in 2003 exceeding two million pounds[3].
  • In 2004 the UK games market was the biggest in Europe and was third biggest in the world after the US and Japan[3].
  • Fifty-three percent of game players expect to be playing as much as or more in ten years time than they do today[4].

The above facts demonstrate the demand for computer games. There is currently a lot of continuous research looking at how playing a game affects the behaviour of the player usually giving scary shooter games a bad reputation. This would be considered throughout the development of the game. It was hoped that developing such a game would invoke interest from potential players; thereby ensuring that, if such a game were to be released on the market, then there would be the demand that is required to make it successful. The use of virtual reality equipment in the game adds a different edge to its playability. One of the aims of is to try out unusual methods in gaming and experiment in different techniques that could be used to make the overall effect of a game better.

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1 Introduction 6
1.1 Project Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.2 Motivation Behind the Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.3 Project Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2 Background and Literature Survey 9
2.1 Primary Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
2.2 Secondary Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
2.3 Technology Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.3.1 Development Languages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.3.2 Software Libraries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
2.4 Hardware Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
3 Design 14
3.1 Game Synopsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.2 Development Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
3.3 Overall System Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.4 Dividing the Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
3.5 The Game Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
3.6 File Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
3.6.1 Storage Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.6.2 Data to be Stored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.6.3 File protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
3.6.4 Parsing the Saved Game Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
3.6.5 Architecture Diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
3.7 Special Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
3.7.1 Areas To Explore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
3.7.2 The Fire Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
3.8 Game Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
3.9 Input Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
3.9.1 Input Handling Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
3.9.2 Data Required by the Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3.9.3 Design Practicalities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.10 Clever ‘Single’ Artificial Intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.11 Implementation Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.12 Other Items to Consider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.12.1 The Inventory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.12.2 The Torch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
4 Implementation 38
4.1 Development Environments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
4.2 Backup and Version Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.3 The Game Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.3.1 Preparing the Workspace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.3.2 Building the Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
4.3.3 Building the 3D World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
4.4 File Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.4.1 File Encryption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.4.2 Game Saving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.4.3 Game Loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
4.4.4 File Encryption Integration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
4.5 Special Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.5.1 Initialising Particles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
4.5.2 Implementation of update() and render() . . . . . . . . 47
4.5.3 Implementation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
4.5.4 Integration of FireSystem with the Game . . . . . . . . 51
4.6 Game Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
4.6.1 Audio Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
4.6.2 Implementation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
4.6.3 Integration of Audio with the Game . . . . . . . . . . . 53
4.7 Input Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
4.7.1 Input Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
4.7.2 Threading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
4.7.3 Implementation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
4.7.4 Integration with the Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
4.7.5 Design for TDM Data Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . 55
4.8 Other Enhancements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
4.8.1 The Game Inventory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
4.8.2 Game Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
4.8.3 Printed Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4.8.4 Implementation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4.9 Integration of Separate Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
5 Results 59
6 Testing and Evaluation 69
6.1 Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
6.1.1 Testing Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
6.1.2 Game Save and Load . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
6.1.3 Special Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
6.1.4 Input Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
6.1.5 Game Audio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.1.6 Overall Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.2 Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.2.1 Evaluation of Objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
6.2.2 Evaluation of Software Used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
6.2.3 User Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
6.2.4 Project Continuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
7 Conclusions 76
Appendices 76
A Architecture Diagram 77
B XML Schema 78
C Audio Listing 79
D Implementation Gantt Chart 80
E Testing Details 81
F Unix Game Makefile 82

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