Ari is an immersive experience that combines music, technology, and art. It offers users the chance to explore a fun, cool, and intuitive way to interact musically with pieces of a virtual environment. Ari would ideally be made available at an indoor theme park or other exploratory setting for users with little prior VR exposure.
The experience is partitioned into 3 sections, each a different part of the same environment. The user stars off at a pond surrounded by dense jungle. They ride along the track in a cart that moves the user through the environment ot a cave and a vine filled forest. Regarding graphics, ARI features a stylized, low poly alien forest resembling the planet in James Cameron’s Avatar: vegetation glows and responds, animals have somewhat mystical appearances, and the atmosphere is dreamlike.
For the ride path, we decided to take a physics based approach. There were trade-offs to using this strategy. On the positive side, we could literally push the cart along the track while the game was playing, but it was more difficult to precisely author specific timing-based locations using this method. Ultimately, we ended with a system that has acceleration pads and break zones that determined how fast the cart should accelerate. Based on those input acceleration values, the cart would calculate its velocity and move forward along the track. If the track moved up a hill, the cart would slow down and if it there was a drop, the cart would accelerate.
There were three interactive scenes in this experience. Each interactive element is apparent in the scenes as we chose colors that would be easy to identify as interactive. That color scheme is consistent throughout the experience to avoid confusing the user. The first scene, the user is in front of a pond, and can throw a stone into the pond to generate ripples. Once the rock is thrown into the pond, another rock generates in the users cart. This is an visual extension of the third assignment I did for this class. Following the ripples section, the user can activate midi notes by hitting the mushrooms. After the first scene, the user enters a cave. We chose our environments specifically for visual and spacial contrast. The interactive in this scene is largely linear and allows the user to play while still focusing ahead to avoid motion sickness. As the user moves their arms around the cave, whichever track of mushrooms the user's hands are closer to will illuminate and adjust the instrumentation appropriately. After the cave section, the user emerges into a forest where they can play vines. Each color represents a different note and the colors change based on a timing message sent from the scheduler.
We chose to use the song "Blue Cathedral" by Jennifer Higdon. We felt the song conveyed the appropriate aural soundscape and contrasted in an interesting way over the course of the piece. We designed our environments to compliment the music that was playing. We transcribed the music into MIDI so we could control the volume of each instrument in the song through Unity and wrote out each of the chord changes so the scheduler could signal those transitions to the game enviroment.