Assignment 4 – Katie Conti
Unity Scene: The Beach at the Pink Lake
By Katie Conti - NEW 400
My first impression of Unity: this platform is MAGICAL. I'm thrilled to have the chance to create a world such as this, and experience it in 3D. Back in the day, I was a pretty big fan of Zoo Tycoon and other "make your own world" type of PC games, however, I definitely felt a bit of a learning curve when starting this project.
I started by downloading several asset packages from the store that is built into Unity, which is overwhelmingly filled with tons of great things. I had trouble figuring out how to import assets downloaded through websites such as TurboSquid, but I'd like to learn how to do this.
After filling the floor of my scene with a part-sandy, part-rocky environment, I wanted to add in a water environment to make it feel like my scene was at the beach. For some reason, the water came out pink! I could not figure out how to change the color of this, but I decided to run with it. When I was in Senegal, I had the chance to visit Lake Retba, aka the Lac Rose, which is about an hour outside of the city of Dakar. This is a lake that is bright pink in color due to a bacteria who lives off of the lake's high salt content, and thus emits a pink pigment. I did a quick twitter search, and used the photos found below as a bit of inspiration for my scene.
— K.Diallo ☭ (@nyeusi_waasi) June 24, 2015
I had good luck finding a beautiful sunset skybox to put in here as background. I tried a few different ones before finding one that ultimately worked well. To add a bit of interesting terrain to my scene, I downloaded several trees (couldn't find species that are indigenous to Senegal, but went for Palm trees), row boats, a little doc, a little grotto, and a few picnic tables. I tried to put some rocks at the shoreline, but had trouble getting them to save. To add a bit more atmosphere to my scene, I added a seagull sound that can be heard when walking near the boats. This was downloaded through Freesound.org. It took a few tries to properly set up the audio and attach it to an object (a cube inside one of the boats), but I finally got the hang of it. Adding in a first person controller to walk around in my scene was pretty straightforward, but I'm looking forward to learning how to add in animated objects to these scenes.
I had previously recorded Quicktime screencasts, but for some reason, I could not get the audio to record as well. I considered adding the audio into the video using Premiere, but I felt like that would be cheating. I'm not sure what I did wrong here, but I'd still like to learn for next time. Additionally, the skybox for my scene only covered the upper sky, but did not wrap all the way around my scene. Looking back, I think I could have fixed this if I made the terrain mountainous all the way around my scene, but I'd like to learn other methods as well.
Thought exercise: write a couple paragraphs about what kinds of stories you think you could set up in a scene like this. In an idea world, what would happen as the user moves through the scene, and how are various elements of a story discovered by the experiencer?
This scene could work to tell a story about Senegal's salt harvesting industry and now, tourism relevance of the Lac Rose. Swimming is not highly encouraged as the salt may damage your skin, but to try floating around, you can put a special kind of cream over your skin - this could be an interesting element to explain with an animation of a person showing you how to make the best of your experience there. There are several other "pink lakes" around the world, from Australia to Azerbaijan, from Bolivia to Spain. This could be interesting for a story about them and their mysterious color as well, or could even be used for promotional purposes. If I could get the water to come back to a blue-green, this scene could be used to tell any kind of a beach-set story, but I was originally thinking of trying to make it look like the shores of Lake Erie in my home town. The sunset skybox would be a perfect match for this story, actually, as Erie is famous for our unbelievable summer sunsets over the lake, and I have countless stories to tell from the beach picnics my family had while I was growing up.
— jessa francis (@jessafran) July 5, 2017
Additionally, I wish I knew how to make my own 3D models - I have so many ideas for worlds and stories that I'd like to tell, but my imagination is a bit inhibited by my lack of skills in 3D/digital arts and/or funds to buy the pre-fabricated models I'm interested in. Senegal's bodies of water are famous for having brightly painted boats, so I'd love to learn how to edit/change the colors of a 3D prefab model. Creating and editing these models for myself is something I'd really like to learn how to do, so perhaps I'll do this to fulfill part of my out-of-class experiential learning requirement or as a side project.