Today we met with the historical experts to design a storyboard and accompanying script for the game concept. These have two roles within our project. Firstly, they act as a guiding narrative for the game itself. This will be useful later when we’re designing the software to run on the smart glasses. But our project plan also involves using a 3D camera to capture reenactments of medieval battles on 3D video, for use as some of the augmented content.The storyboard therefore plays the role of a conventional film-maker’s tool to help us get the correct framing of shots when filming on-site.
Here are a couple of panels from the first scene. The viewer gets an inside view of a medieval battle encampment, and is shortly joined by a solider who tells them to get a move on and make their way to the battlefield.
Design of Time Portals
We had already decided that the viewer should access scenes from the past by finding ‘time portals’ around the heritage centre site when looking through smart glasses. The idea is that a time portal should be a mysterious-looking object, like something out of science fiction. During today’s meeting we talked more about how visitors might best interact with these. It was seen as important that we should be able to re-trigger a time portal and see the relevant scene again, but without being able to do this by accident. Ogglebox suggested that a viewer would need to be looking in the direction of a time portal for some period of time before it triggers, thus introducing a sort of hysteresis into the system. Further, the portal can give a visual indication of how close the elapsed time is to the required amount for triggering. We suggested that the portal ‘shimmers’ with increasing strength up to the point of being triggered. With the structure of scenes as laid out in the storyboard, there are scene titles which would help the viewer to understand each scene in its historical context. We decided that we can make use of the portal triggering system to allow the portal to display a title prior to triggering, so that the viewer is aware of this.
Plans for Filming
Since this is an experimental project, we are not going to the time and expense of a full-scale 3D filmshoot with actors. Instead, we plan to capture 3D video of the medieval battle reenactments which regularly take place at the heritage centre. By far the largest of these is the reenactment weekend which takes place on 16th/17th August. The centre kindly offered to recruit reenactors to star in scenes involving actors. A final scene will feature one of the battlefield guides from the heritage centre. We will also take scenes from the battle sequences - necessarily taken from a distance for safety reasons!
Real World vs. Augmented World
An interesting thing about designing content for augmented reality games is that we design not only the synthetic content but also its relation and interaction with the real world. This is particularly important for projects like this one, because we intend to encourage the viewer to make connections between the battlefield site as it is today and the events which took place there centuries ago. We made a further tour of the site and identified suitable locations for placing content. Key scenes with King Richard III are to be located in the direction where the actual battle is believed to have taken place.