Dissecting Reality
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Dissecting Reality

So What Did I Learn From This

Now that class is over, what did I learn and where do I plan to go from here.

Photo by Tuva Mathilde Løland on Unsplash

First, reflecting is my jam! I’ve been trying to reflect on a month-to-month basis since early 2019, and these last four months have been a doozy, so let’s take a moment and go over everything I’ve done and learned on the topic of virtual reality.

Coming into this class, I was interested in learning about the tools behind virtual reality and the applications of the software today. I had had one very strange first-hand VR experience before and the rest of my exposure had been through fiction or movies.

I touched upon this in one of my responses to the Voices of VR podcast where I talked specifically about a certain scene in Caprica and how some of the discussion reminded me of it. I have always known that there’s a symbiosis between the fiction humans create and what they invent so I wouldn’t say these connections surprised me, but I think it definitely made me better at the conception of future projects.

As a result, I felt like I came in feeling a little more well-versed in the theory of virtual reality but kept struggling with the software.

Looking at the macro project specifically, I knew going in that I had no background with any of the tools and I felt very lost. I was 100% ready to accept wizard of oz prototyping as my final deliverable and was okay with that, but I did learn a lot about the software from collaborating with Linnette and Alexis and felt that was a good choice overall.

I think one of the biggest things I realized was the mountain of software available for VR development and I know the only way I am ever going to learn more is by practice and continuing to develop my skills.

I am moving into my thesis semester so I don’t know exactly where this practice will fall, but I did enjoy working on Luminous and there are definitely. things that I would like to experiment with and play with it more. Once everything calms down in my life just a little bit, I would love to continue expanding on the universe we created a little more and really build it out to the point where we have a full narrative and experience that’s a little more cohesive and immersive.

Honestly, I think my biggest takeaway from this class is that technical skills can be learned, and they can be learned at different paces and in your own time, but the concept is one of the biggest things that you need to take with you going in if you want to create something that’s actually going to work.

If I was to break it down further I would say that two of the biggest things I learned were to consider time and perspective. My playtest, for instance really taught me about how perspective works. Luna was a game that was immersive but in the way that I was almost god-like in perspective. I don’t think I would have had the same connection to the characters or been as invested if, say, I was playing this game on the Nintendo Switch.

Similarly, my field study of a puzzle ended up being too long. I will essentially never ask anyone to do a puzzle in VR it’s way to sedentary. However, I do think that puzzle games are fun and would have value and with a little more time to learn Unity and really digest it I think that I could come up with some cool puzzle-box-type scenarios that wouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to finish.

I also think that the visiting artists that came to talk to us were very exciting and I really enjoyed getting to see their work and get their perspectives on their practices. I think that the most important thing I got out of each talk though was the importance of trying to have a goal in mind.

Michael Lee’s talk particularly interested me because of how he focused on his career evolution. I’ve always sort of just learned what I need to for work and while that had served me okay in the past, it also wasn’t serving my interests or feeding my soul in the way that it needed.

I think between his talk and Snow Yunxue Fu this class allowed me to reconnect with what I wanted out of my work and reminded me of the importance of creating work for me.

I’ve written a bit about this, but I spent the end of 2018 and most of 2019 trying to get out of a toxic environment and I would work all the time trying to save money so I would be okay if I didn’t have income. That hyperfocus and overscheduled state gave me no time for myself and no time to relax, and it didn’t serve me well at all even though my goal was met.

When I was applying to graduate programs I had three things I wanted:

  • A peer group that I could turn to in the future
  • A professional network
  • A chance to actually explore what I wanted to create.

Fortunately, the program has given me all of that and I think this class has to on a smaller scale.

I do feel like with some of the personal things going on this semester I was sort of in that 2018 state, but I do still think that I learned a lot from this semester and that it will be things I can apply down the road in my practice.

A few things I would be really interested in doing is going back to some of my original ideation ideas for the macro project and really playing with the idea of identity and what makes a person whole. For some reason, even in other classes, I kept returning to my Theories and Cultural Impact of Technology final which I wanted to expand with voicemails, video clips, more music, receipts, and other stupid ephemera from my life.

Between this and my work in the CollabVRation project, I think that I have the skills to make something a little more dynamic and if I can’t do it alone I got a peer group to help me troubleshoot.

So, all in all, I think this was a very successful class even if I am still dealing with the technology hurdle.

So, Things I Plan to Do:

  • Collaborate with Linnette and Alexis to expand Luminous into a full story
  • Buy a personal Oculus so I can continue to develop and play. (Why do I always find cool VR things when I don’t have time to take out the headset?)
  • Take a few audio engineering courses via LinkedIn Learning
  • Use Unity’s resources to dive deeper into the software.
  • I still kind of want to do something with tarot, as I mentioned in my virtual object, but now I’m not sure I need to create this in VR and may decide instead to focus on developing something around the concept. Kind of like Sayonara Wild Hearts did.

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Coursework and progress blog for NYU IDM Virtual Reality Class

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Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser

Grad Student at NYU Tandon. Associate Editor for Tell-Tale TV. Pop Culture enthusiast. Writer with a dog. Knits.

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