Google AR and VR

Maximizing art assets for VR

In line with previous tips we shared about creating art assets for VR, we’ve put together a few specific techniques for VR artists to get the most out of polygons and UV space.

Tiling textures: Instead of making one giant texture that covers lots of space, create a smaller tileable texture that can be used in more spaces. The example below uses UV space with a tileable texture repeated eight times to create high resolution on this ladder.  Through mirroring and flipping, the user will likely not notice the reused UV spaces, but the overall look is higher-res.

vrart2ladder

Use more polygons: While keeping the poly count low is important, texture and pixel resolution is more valuable. Plan ahead when designing an asset to account for the fact that you may need to add more polygons or model an asset in a less polygonally-optimized way, because doing so will increase resolution and result in a more detailed and overall optimized asset. On the left is a 13k poly model which was intended to be 6” tall in VR.  When the user approached the model, it became pixelated and didn’t look good. Instead of using large sheets of UV space, the model on the right was built with more careful polygon placement. It’s a 9k poly with a higher resolution of textures that holds up to close inspection in VR.

vrships

Maximize that UV space: Strive for higher resolution by making larger UV spaces to achieve a higher resolution per asset.  Because almost every asset has a unique UV space, the image on the left uses the large green leaf area for the entire balloon, which looks pixelated at close distances in VR. By making larger and higher resolution UV spaces and duplicating the geometry instead of relying on unique UV sections, the final asset on the right looks sharper when viewed up close.

shiptexture

Use geometry to make something unique, not textures: One drawback with reusing UV space is that things can look repetitive. To make areas of your asset look more unique, use geometry to add a new color splash or add a few edge loops to bend or scale a duplicated asset into a different silhouette.

geocompare

Plan ahead when creating assets, so they can be reused and combined with other assets: A good workflow in the tight constraints of VR is to build the individual parts of a final asset and then assemble them. Always be considering whether or not that next unique part is needed at the cost of an overall smaller UV layout, thus less lower resolution per asset.  The entire final asset on the left was built with the parts on the right.

shipparts

Hopefully, these tips will be useful as you create and optimize your assets for VR. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks? Let’s get a conversation going; use #VRArtTips to share.

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Activity Recognition

Making Pixel better for Drivers

Posted by Marc Stogaitis and Tajinder Gadh, Software Engineers

Driving is an essential part of our daily activities. So at Google we spend a
lot of time thinking how we can make Android devices better and safer for our
users. How we can prevent distracted driving and together build an open
ecosystem to enable safety first smartphone experiences.

Recently we launched Driving Do-Not-Disturb on the newly announced Pixel 2
generation of devices. Once enabled, Driving Do-Not-Disturb automatically puts
your device into a do not disturb mode while driving. During this mode any
incoming messages and notifications are silenced while you can still receive
incoming calls, navigation directions and voice interactions using a connected
Car bluetooth. The product is designed to limit distractions during driving
while at the same time not getting in the way so users can continue to use
navigation or other similar apps with minimal friction.

Behind the scenes, it uses AI powered on-device Activity
Recognition
that detects when a person is driving using low power signals
from multiple sensors, bluetooth and WiFi. Activity Recognition uses the Android
Sensor Hub to ensure low latency, low power and accurate driving detection.

This is a next step in our journey, but we are far from done. Early next year
we are introducing the Activity Recognition Transition API, which is the same
API used by Driving Do Not Disturb to build distraction-free driving
experiences.

We appreciate the feedback, and will continue to listen to your feedback as the
product evolves.

If you have questions about setting up the Driving Do-Not-Disturb, check out our
Help Center.

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game design

Google and Ideas United announce Infinite Deviation: Games winners

Posted by Kate Brennan and Mathilde Cohen Solal, Google Play and Daraiha Greene, CS in Media

Google Play is committed to empowering new and existing voices in gaming. Earlier this year, we hosted the Indie Games Festival and sponsored the Girls Make Games summer camp. We also announced a collaboration between Infinite Deviation and Google Play.

Infinite Deviation is an initiative created by Google Computer Science (CS) in Media and Ideas United in order to tackle issues of representation in computer science. The collaboration between Google Play and Ideas United brought the Infinite Deviation program to gaming, called Infinite Deviation: Games. The program invited game designers from all backgrounds to pitch an original mobile game concept that resonates with underrepresented audiences.

Today we are excited to announce the three teams selected for the Infinite Deviation: Games development program.

A select panel of industry experts reviewed applications and chose the top three ideas. The judging panel included Colleen Macklin (Founder and Co-Director, PETLab), Jeremy Vanhoozer (Senior Creative Director, Plants vs Zombies), Molly Proffitt (CEO, Ker-Chunk Games), Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia (Founder and CEO, PlayWerks), and Sarah Thomson (Global BD Lead, Indies, Google). These judges scored and delivered personal feedback for each submission, with the three highest scoring games moving into further development.

Here’s a closer look at the three games we’ll be funding and supporting development over the next six months:

Historic Gay Bar Tycoon

Mo Cohen & Maria Del Castillo Infantas – Queermo Games

Historic Gay Bar Tycoon (name pending) starts you off with a brand new queer bar in the 1920s. This game explores the role bars played in LGBT history. Will your bar survive revolutions, epidemics, and the rise of dating apps?

Queermo Games is pretty much what it sounds like: a scrappy and small indie game developing team just trying to make more LGBT games. Conveniently, they are also next door neighbors. Maria is a queer Latina who handles the art and the music, and Mo is a non-binary Jewish queer who tackles the programming and writing. Together, they also work on another longer-term project called Queer Quest with their buddy Hagen.

Burn Ban

Harrison Barton & Morgan Rowe – Pride Interactive

Burn Ban is an interactive visual novel in which you assume the role of Twig, a mentally ill queer girl. After showing destructive tendencies to cope with the death of a close friend, she is sent to Camp Sisquoc, a summer retreat for misguided students. After attending the camp for a few days, her dead friend’s online social media page mysteriously starts posting again, and Twig and friends are set with determining the mystery behind the posts.

Pride Interactive is currently made up of two developers, Harrison Barton and Morgan Rowe. Pride Interactive was started as a student game team, and is now continuing on to develop independent projects. Pride Interactive endeavors to further their mission of creating a more diverse environment in the industry through games that deal with serious themes, and diverse character driven narratives.

Ghost in the Graveyard

Adnan Agha, Vivian Allum, and Armand Silvani – Ghost Stories

Ghost in the Graveyard is a story-driven mobile mystery game where you snoop through your missing brother’s old phone to try and find him. “Can you find a missing person when all you have is their phone?”

Ghost Stories is a three member team from NYC with a mission to create genuine and unique experiences that connect with players. The team consists of Vivian, the lead designer and programmer, Armand, the artist and writer, and Adnan, the programmer and resident ghost. They’ve previously published a school project to the Xbox One and are thrilled to be able to work with Infinite Deviation to publish to Google Play.

You can find more information about the program at InfiniteDeviation.com/Games. Congratulations to the three winners and thanks to all the people who have entered the competition for their continuous work to push the boundaries of gaming design and providing a unique voice to the industry.

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