September 26, 2016 Student Spotlight: Metropoke
Judy Zhu
Judy Zhu

I am a graduate student in Media Studies at Pratt Institute, and I also work part-time at China Daily as a multimedia reporter. I took the VR Game Design class, for I am doing my graduate thesis on VR, and also my workplace is super interested in VR journalism. I didn’t take this class because I am crazy about games. Actually this is the only class on VR technology available at NYC in the summer. So, as a newbie without any background in VR and game design, I didn’t foresee that I could make VR apps on my own in 8 weeks.

Unbelievably, I am capable now. I learned how to use Unity, Vuforia, Fuse, MagicaVoxel and many other software and platforms to achieve my goals. Andrew and John are super nice and super helpful on making our personal career goals as a driven force to our success. The best part of the course is that I learned what to look for if I want to make something in VR or AR. It’s amazing when I first time see my app appeared on my cellphone screen, and thanks to Andrew and John I had such an exciting summer to have so much worth showing off to my friends and colleagues.

screenshot-of-all-the-apps-i-made-for-this-class

(These are all the apps that I made in 8 weeks)

You can see how bad I am as a newbie 3D designer in the first two assignments:

screenshot-of-my-first-3d-model

(Andrew asked us to make a Minion 3D model, and this is what I got…)

screenshot-of-my-first-vr-game
(First try in Google cardboard game design)

screenshot-of-my-second-vr-game
(Second Google cardboard game)

During the 8 weeks, one significant cultural phenomenon took place, which is the hit of AR mobile game Pokemon Go. As a reporter I got to cover this topic as an in-depth story.

my-in-depth-cover-on-pokemon-go
(Screenshot of the newspaper on Pokemon Go story I covered)

screenshot-of-andrew-taking-my-interview
(Andrew of course was the first one I interviewed.)

From that moment on, I got obsessed with AR stuff. So I started to Google how to make AR apps, and that’s how I found Vuforia, an AR developing platform. Following a Youtube tutorial video, I made an early example by using “China Daily” as a target image, and once the image is tracked, a Pikachu will pop up. I used the Pikachu as my 3D objects simply because I happened to find those game objects on Pokemons are free to download…

screenshot-of-pikachu-on-china-daily
(Screenshot of my first AR app, the Pikachu will spin around when the cellphone camera captures the targeted image of “China Daily”)

I also did a Zombie version:
screenshot-of-zombie-on-china-daily
(Screenshot of my Zombie AR app)

I showed these to my boss and he was super impressed. He made the decision right away on encouraging me to keep explore the possibility that I could bring to the traditional printed media industry. One idea I proposed was to make the newspaper vivid with live video streaming and animated 3D models in an AR newspaper reader app. (I am still working on it right now.)

The 8 weeks passed very fast, and I almost forgot that I was supposed to make a final game. And at that time, Pokemon Go was super hot. Especially since I work at the Times Square, I can see players everywhere trying to capture a Pikachu.

Then I thought, it would be fantastic if I could create a Pokemon Go AR game myself.

So, thanks to Andrew and John’s great support, this is what I got in the end:

screenshot-of-pikachu-and-charmender-on-metro-card

I made the MetroCard as a target image, and it will turn into a gun that can shoot Pikachu towards Charmanders.

metropoke

(I played it on my train home, and other passengers thought I was taking selfie the whole time…LOL)

I also made another AR app that is used for a company promotion, which worked out very well:

inchant

I used the company’s logo as the target image, and printed it very large that customers can take photo with holding the image and a randomly popped up word describing their characteristic.

screenshot-of-inchant-ar-app-coding-process
(It’s very hard to make the random code by myself, so John helped me a lot in a very short time! He is so efficient!)

These are my very first try of using Unity to create VR and AR apps for gaming and commercials. It’s so cool! Thank you so much for taking this class that I believe has already changed my life in many ways. I definitely look forward to the next step, and hopefully I could take more class at Playcrafting for self-development.

Quick Questions

1.) How did you get into games?

I didn’t plan to be a game designer. I took the VR game design class to further develop what I learned in class to the areas that I am interested in, like commercials and VR journalism.

2. You’re part of the first manned mission to Mars! You’ll be gone for 5 years and can only bring 3 games to play alone or with your 3 fellow astronauts. What are they?

Crossyroad, The Sims, Super Mario.

3.) What would be your dream game to build?

I want to build a game that players can be developers at the same time. Not in a Minicraft way, but players can get out of the Algorithms control and fight back the virtual world. (That’s my thesis topic and I am still working on it in this following year.) I want to create a game, or a virtual world, that can become an ultimate sympathy machine to address social injustice issues and change the real world.

4. What do you love best about the game community in NYC?

There are so many talented developers and designers in the city, and so many activities going on. I can always find some super interesting stuff to try on and be inspired by talented people.

5.) Choose 5 words to describe your experience making games so far.

Excited, Amazing, Bazinga, Mind-blowing, Potential