Eyes of Miriam

Project Type:

VR Experience - Unity Game Engine - Oculus Quest 2 - Substance Painter- Maya

Date:

2022

This project was done in collaboration with Shadrick Addy, Emily Subr, and Mila Gajic. I was specifically responsible for environment design as well as some graphical elements.

Eyes of Mariam VR is an interactive first-person virtual reality experience that puts you in the
shoes of an African teenage girl experiencing firsthand the dangers of obtaining basic education
during a time of civil unrest in her homeland – a fictionalized African region. The narrative follows
real events and the ensuing implications of school attacks in the region. Eyes of Mariam VR hopes
to explore the use of virtual reality as a narrative-based experiential media to cultivate empathy
for children experiencing traumatic events in their pursuit of education.

For the current phase of the project, we built on work completed previously by design and CSE students to develop a refined prototype of Eyes of Mariam VR. Using an iterative VR design, development, and project management framework, we reviewed, restructured, redesigned, and revised the prototype using updated tools and resources. The outcome is an interactive three scenes VR experience that immerses participants into the life and journey of Mariam.

A unique challenge when creating virtual reality experiences is that the player can look anywhere in the space, which can make it tricky to establish environments with pleasing lines of sight. We created the environment by combining photogrammetry scans from Quixel Megascans with custom modeled assets in Maya. Then the assets were taken into Adobe Substance Painter to create layered shaders that communicate the style of run-down school buildings. For the outdoor environment, we used strategically placed buildings and foliage to cover up gaps in the space. In addition to the creative direction we took, we also had to deal with the challenge of scale and placement for our environment. In order to make the experience feel as real as possible, it was very important to refine this aspect, and make sure the player felt like they were the right size for the environment.