Week 2 - Moving forward
I feel confident I now have finalized the concepts that unify the project, which in turn also inform my thesis paper.
I recently saw metereology summarized as "Finding order in disorder", which does really sum up the concept. The project's character, a metereologist, is unable to predict the future, but is fixated on trying to do so, and is endlessly trying to gain control over their future which they are constantly in fear of. His weather prediction equipment is an attempt to make sense of the chaos and unpredictability of the world, but there is an inherent fallibility to the weather equipment that exposes the tragedy and folly of the character.
I find something still darkly humorous about a weatherman/metereologist in this situation, that ties into my interest in drawing inspiration from the dark humor of Kafka's The Trial. I see the metereologist as a modern day version of K the bank clerk. K finds comfort in facts and takes pride in his work, and spends the book struggling and unable to process the illogical and uncontrollable situations that present itself in front of him. Similarly, my metereologist finds great comfort in his work, and is unable to process all of the unpredictable (wife leaving him) and unexplainable (getting transported to a fog world) things in the world. The Trial uses the legal system as a metaphor for the the mysterious unknowable true nature of the world that character spend their lives struggling (and failing) to understand, and my story uses metereology as a similar metaphor to represent how even our most sophisticated technology has a fixed limit to understanding the world.
Where my story veers in a different direction is incorporating the butterfly effect. Not only is the world unpredictable and unknowable, but any smaller change can have a much greater and unforseeable chain reaction that can last over a longer period of time. This is important in tying in the interactive component, and giving a reason for this to be an interactive project and not just a story I could tell in another medium.
The goal is for the player/user to feel a mixture of anxiety, bewilderment, and awe/intrigue as they try to make sense of the strange Fog World and discover the impact of their interactions with it.
This focus will help significantly with revising and finishing my paper as well, so I can incorporate all of this to tie it together.
I am close to finalizing on an office layout for Normal World that contains a green screen studio (where the metereologist would record weather forecasts). It could also contain slightly outlandish weather prediction equipment.
In particular this office layout in the screenshot is meaningful to me because it looks very similar to the main VICE office that I worked at for some time, which adds a personal connection that I'm aiming for with the project. I'm not 100% tied to this, as I'm not sure if this will translate to others, but I'm close to finalizing on it.
I'm behind my intended schedule, but I feel confident that with the bigger picture figured out more, I can better move forward.
I started experimenting with a collection of custom animated 'skybox's to incorporate into the Fog World, that I could shift between different elemental states (clear sky, fiery red sky, etc). They are intended to be used as a material on a sphere with terrain below , but I am experimenting with duplicating and flipping the material, so it covers your view in a full 360 view when flying around. The creator of the asset gave me some tips and suggestions I am going to try out. For now, the bottom half is empty.
I also got video working, so I can assign videos to play as materials on objects, like in Unity. I plan on experimenting with using video two ways
Archival video - clips of natural disasters, weather reports, etc.
Texturing - using looping animations of TV static, film grain, etc, to create textures on abstract shapes.
I also setup a live camera feed (shown in bottom right) that shows what is happening in the Normal World. The idea behind this is that when you perform an interaction in the Fog World, you will immediately see the results on this screen. The system is very simple, and doesn't seem to have much of a performance impact.
The biggest question mark is VFX, but I am discussing that with my team currently.