Despite many of the team being away on holiday post-lockdown, we still have a lot going on in the MXTreality office. Projects in Virtual and Augmented Reality vie for attention as more organisations recognise that even relatively dry subjects, like employment tribunals or court appearances can now be made experiential to engage more closely with participants. This was our week.

Week commencing 17 August

Toby – Managing Director

Lots of holidays for everyone now and most of the team are flying off to see family. Given that we’ve been locked down for so long we’ve essentially allowed everyone the holiday they want; most of our key clients are also away so it’s a good time to have a fairly empty office.

We did have a visit to W4, from two key client sponsors wanting to try out a few of the solutions that we have ongoing for them. They brought cake.

We are also still battling through some newly revealed power requirement issues for the Innovation Centre. Who knew that getting new plug sockets would be so hard?

Josh – Programme Manager

Working hard to keep all our projects on track, while trying to resource the new ones we are adding on a weekly basis, as word spreads of just what immersive environments are capable of – working too hard to type up a diary this week. Sorry Toby. Sorry readers. Check back next week.

Cat – Lead Programmer

This week I’ve continued developing the networking portion of our Incident Management project. For the most part it’s quite the same as the original project, but more flexible and easier to develop with.

Networked projects are by nature, more complex than offline ones, and the same applies to Virtual Reality projects because of the difficulty of testing. Because of this, I’m taking extra care to build the project and its associated tools with the goal of optimising developer experience.

We expect this project to run for a while, or indefinitely, so streamlining the core experience of working on it should be as easy as possible.

A specific issue I’ve been dealing with is trying to swap VR devices at launch time, so that it’s easy to test whatever launch mode you want at any time, regardless of what the last launched mode was. This should ensure we don’t have to deal with these weird ghost issues later in development.

Additionally, I’ve been developing the user avatars. One of the problems we had in the original project was a certain ‘jumpiness’ the avatars had due to infrequent and messy data coming over the network.

About a month ago I participated in the GMTK game jam with a racing game, and actually learned a technique that I think will resolve this problem by separating the incoming data from the visual avatar being controlled by it.

If you’re interested, you can read more about that here!

Sergio – Programmer

No diary as I’m on holiday.

Stefano – 3D Artist

No diary, as I too am on holiday, which feels so good after lockdown!

Slava – Lead 3D Artist

When I finished HDRP lighting for our “Animals on the Network” project, I decided to use this new environment to complete PBR material for the livestock trailer we need.

I completed this material in Substance Painter a week ago, but I had to find the correct profile to export it into the Unity. I couldn’t test this material properly before, as default lighting didn’t include correct ambient light.

The main challenge was to export a mask file. This new file for HDR pipeline is quite sophisticated and includes different maps, such as metal-ness and roughness, in different RGB and alpha channels.

It means that not all file formats are suitable for this map. After couple of tests I created the correct export profile in Substance Painter and was able to finish material in Unity which looks identical to the one in Substance Painter.

I’m pleased with this success, because in future I can focus on creation of PBR material in Substance Painter and know it will look exactly the same in Unity projects.

I spent the rest of the week working with our new software – Character Creator 3. We are going to use it for building a collection of various natural looking characters for upcoming projects.

After installation of all packages and familiarization with the interface and its main functions, I tried to make my first character based on one of the default templates and I was impressed the way it worked out.

I tried similar programmes before and wasn’t able to move very far from models that looked like mannequins, but this time the female character looked alive.

Next week I will try to use a photo of a real guy to reproduce it in this program. I can’t wait to start!

Kyung-Min – 3D Generalist

No diary. You see the pattern here now don’t you? I’m on holiday too.

Jordi Caballol – Programmer

No diary, because you guessed it, I’m out of the office; okay, I’m on holiday.