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10 months ago

DinoMess Developer`s Notes: How Augmented Reality Makes the World A Better Place

During our game development process, we faced a lot of tasks, which we needed to manage. The main issue was to determine adequate pipeline for augmented reality integration. We want to share our experience with you in that article.

Firstly, we had to deal with the proper game objects tracking system. For augmented reality development it means, that you need to determine the location of moving 3D objects in the game world, and place them accordingly in the visualization area. We decided to position our 3d models with anchors.

The sights fitted perfectly to implement that solution – 3d augmented reality. Just imagine – a dinosaur appears near the famous painting, when you point the phone camera on it.

We thought about Vuforia plugin as an ideal option (and also Kudan as an alternative). It helps to store the image database, that determines which 3d object must be shown in each case. But after some researches, it appeared, that for our game such system doesn’t work, cause the sights will be different in different time of day and year. Keeping thousands of the images on our servers – in different lightning and different seasons, globally all over the world – it just doesn’t make any sense. Kudan didn’t fit as its no-image tracking system is linked to the built-in accelerometer. The accelerometer counts acceleration projection and has internal limits of accuracy, which leads to the coordination displacement. Wave the hand with phone in it – and the object will jump to the other spot. 

Then the idea of global coordinate positioning has come. GPS systems, that are built-in in all modern devices, could solve the issue correctly.

The development of that tracking system is quite simple: we get the GPS location of the player at the start of the game, and set it as zero coordinate. Relevant to the zero coordinate, we calculate the coordinates of the game objects, and place them on certain distance. So we put the character into the game world, we put the game object into the game world, then – with the help of gyroscope – we calculate the vector and the angle of the character view (from the point of the game object)

As we use two modes to play DinoMess – we needed to handle right positioning not only on 2d map, but in the AR mode also. The North in the real world (AR mode) has to be the same North in the game (2D map). When the player looks at north, and the dinosaur has spawned in the south, it had to be behind his back in AR.

Interesting things happen during development process. In game industry – these things can affect the game itself and even improve the overall experience. That what has happened to DinoMess. We planned to spawn Dino Portals, in order to activate them in AR and then start catching dinosaurs. But one little bug has made double spawn once – the Portal and the dinosaur together. We thought that we should leave it as it is – cause that gigantic enormous real-sized dinosaur was pretty cool though. And the bug turned into feature)

We started to make our game world like in Pokemon Go – three dimensional map with character, running around, and 3d dinosaurs spawned all over. But during the tests, we had to challenge FPS issues and fast battery loss. After several meetings and discussions, the team made decision to make totally new design – with beautiful 2D map and extended AR mode.

That solved a lot of problems and the result was amazing. Now the player could use more friendly and casual 2D map navigation interface with dinos and boxes marked on it. Or he could turn on AR mode and see the objects in real life – as three dimensional moving objects – and start to interact with them.

For everyone, who wants to integrate AR in their projects, we would advise the Google VR cardboard, as the ready-to-go solution. And whenever you need ar want to create something new – use gyroscope for better results.

Also we can mention AR Toolkit for Unity, which is actually has some kind of mixed features from both of Vuforia and Kudan plugins.

“Go for AR – and never stop looking for improvements”

Download DinoMess App for iOs or Android

Ignat Emelyanov

CTO, Aetsoft

Dinomess

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