We are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is killing hundreds of thousands and devastating the global economy. Countries are deploying various methods to reduce transmission, but the primary method is to impose a lockdown on citizens.
I knew I wanted to create a video game for my capstone because throughout my time at Nuvu, coding projects, and especially Unity game development projects have been my favorite. When the pandemic began to hit Boston, I knew that I should create something covering the most significant news event of my life. With this context, my initial idea was to create a pandemic simulation game similar to Plague Inc. I was attracted to this area because I am interested in learning about disease spread through creating my own model. I’m particularly interested in the underlying mathematics that predict the growth and spread of a disease. I moved away from this area because I was doubtful that I could create something novel; there are elite groups of scientists who study infectious disease and create precise mathematical models, and there are many games that are about either controlling or facilitating macro-level disease spread. I decided to create a game inspired by my personal experience of the pandemic.
I DIDN”T MAKE IT ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE CONCEITED TO ASSERT THAT MY EXPERIENCE IS SO PROFOUND THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD FIND IT INTERESTING OR EVOCATIVE. THIS WAS PROBABLY A SENTIMENT THAT I SHOULD HAVE OVERCOME, AND IF I COULD DO IT AGAIN I WOULD HAVE MADE A SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL GAME.
I have been in a fairly strict self-quarantine with my family since March 16. Initially, I expected to be deeply affected by the social isolation; I anticipated a progressively more lonely and dismal life stuck at home. Surprisingly, things actually felt normal in the beginning. I missed my friends and going out into the world -- but much less than I thought I would. I have been going through my journal entries from that period, and I am surprised by how little I wrote about the effects of the pandemic and the isolation.
As time progressed though, I realized that I was insidiously slipping lower and lower into sadness and stress without even noticing it. I wasn’t overtly lonely or despairing, but the social isolation and mundanity of my new normal was having a deleterious effect on my mental health.
I was inspired to capture this interesting experience in a video game which illustrates the insidious effects of the oppressive mundanity and loneliness that many people are experiencing right now.
I started looking at other video games for inspiration. This game is called “A Dark Room.” I was inspired by the simple interface that lacked artistic illustrations which I don’t like making. “Spent” is a game in which you play as someone navigating the various challenges of poverty in the US. I was inspired by the
“My idea is to create a game/digital art piece in which an independent-living senior citizen navigates the mundane and not-mundane challenges of the pandemic. My character is an older person because they are being affected especially negatively in the current pandemic, not only because they are more at risk from the disease, but because they are already a somewhat disenfranchised and isolated group, so these problems are exacerbated. “
tHIS SHOULD GO SOMEWHERE.
Over the last number of decades, the amount of furniture in landfills has increased dramatically along with the demand for fast furniture. While inexpensive and quick to produce, these cardboard and plywood furniture pieces often contain toxic chemicals and only last a short time before being thrown away and replaced. Growing furniture from mushrooms benefits the environment by absorbing carbon-dioxide during production, and reduces the need for furniture disposal once the product reaches end-of-life.
Mycelium is the main body of fungus, that when grown together with crop waste forms a water resistant, flame retardant, and fully biodegradable Styrofoam-like solid. Mycelium furniture is grown from this composite into simple modular shapes. Once grown, the pieces are attached using bamboo components. The modules can be disconnected and rearranged to form stools, benches, and chairs, adapting to fit environmentally-conscious furniture into different types of indoor spaces.
Today I made diagrams for the modules. I used the same view as the isometric renders. I made copies of all of the diagrams with hidden lines, but I only think the cylinder needs them, and not even that badly. The dashed lines appear to be different line weights because of the resolution, so I will need to re-export them to fix it or just use the diagrams without hidden lines.
Next I will be putting together the presentation. I plan on making grids of renders and diagrams, keeping in mind that the presentation will only be viewed from small computer screens, not a larger projected screen. I should also probably do more historical/context research.
I thought I should get a head start on diagramming since I realized that I they should probably be completed by the end of Monday at the latest, leaving only today and Monday to work on them. I have two options for the diagrams. I can dimension the models then explode the dimensions so they will transfer when I create the 2d representation, or I can do the dimensions in Illustrator. Either way, I need to use Make2D. The problem is that not all of the lines are complete or lined up in the result. It could have something to do with the workspace tolerances, but I'm not sure.
I realized that for the renders, some of the pieces look better in traditional perspective than isometric, which I used for the first batch of renders. I decided to rerender everything in perspective so I have both to chose from, and I will use isometric view for diagrams.
Today I finished generating structural analysis reports and moved on to renders. I ended up using the solid douglas fir option in Scan and Solve for the wood bases instead of creating a bamboo plywood material.
The rest of my time was spent on creating passable renders for CSW. I know they are not perfect, but they are good enough for my use case. The noise reduction option helped a lot since my previous renders had a lot of noise that I couldn't seem to get rid of. I have the three example configurations for simple modules left to render, then I will move on to getting 2D representations to start diagramming.
Update 4/25: I completed the renders of the three simple module configurations
Today I ran all of the modules and most of the configurations through structural analysis. I generated reports for them, which are posted on the platform as well. I have three configurations left to test because they have bamboo plywood components and Scan and Solve does not have a plywood option by default. I need to create a custom composite material to represent the bamboo before I can run the tests, or I can just say that it is a different solid wood.
I have decided to simplify my designs to three simple modules with wood surrounds (public furniture) and the interlocking modules. The plan is to show the modules themselves and give examples of configurations that can be made with them.
I downloaded Scan and Solve as suggested by Ammar instead of using Karamba since it is a lot simpler. This afternoon, I added material properties for mycelium based on information from different sources on mycelium composites, and I ran tests with the simple and interlocking chair modules. A report generated for the chair module is included for download.
Moving forward I will be setting up parameters for testing the different configurations based on how I expect people to apply weight to them. After structural analysis, I will start rendering and creating diagrams of the modules and configurations.