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SOMIT Episode #04 (12-1989) Developer Log
in Gaming | Thursday, May 26, 2022 | 22:15


From the progress of my VR project "Stone Oakvalley's Moment In Time" I will start to post some updates on the scenes behind developing this VR experience called "Dangerous Switchback", also known as Episode #04.


Episode #04 [12-1989]
"Dangerous Switchback"

Note: The "Stone Oakvalley's Moment In Time" project deals with 10 episodes, I just randomly chosen Episode #4 as my fourth focus after Episode #02, #03 and #07 which are also still in production.



Introduction - 26 May 2022

This episode is currently an continuation after research that started way back in 2016, then as a 2D conversion with no Virtual Reality (VR) in mind at that time.

However, in January 2021 the project was transported over to Unity for development and target platform VR/Quest, which was an completely new software for me to use. It was first to learn some basics of Unity, then controlling and running only on a Windows PC computer. 6 months later, I eventually got my first Virtual Reality (VR) headset and started to port it over to VR/QUEST2 at that time.

During those months, I was basically just learning Unity and VR in general, until in January 2022 I started the Moment In Time project, where this early bird project was always meant to be part of that. Anyway, since I need to move on in this project I started so re-visit this project as well and only 1 screenshot is currently available from within the headset itself. It basically just shows a landscape, a familiar race track but not much else :-)

The story of this episode involves a car, and dangerous or potentially many dangerous roads and some high flying for the player. Otherwise, it will feature you beeing stuck in a car's cockpit for the duration on the experience. Other things worth mentioning are landscape, grass, trees and some audience and structures related to the natural setting of this environment I wish to re-create.

For the next week or two, I need to figure out a way to get the player to move with the car, while preventing you/headset from leaving, but be allowed to rotate head and kind of move around within the confines of this very tight cockpit :-)

As some aware retro people might already recognize is the particular track shown below, and it should be mentioned that I have no desire to get into any copyright problems or such things, so I can not re-create everything that you once knew, this is just a heads up for those "for" and "against" this experience I wish to produce.

It will be just an artistic and humble fan created experience that takes inspiration of a game I played a lot back in the days, which today are still a very playable classic and known to the public, but I always wondered how my stomach would feel in a VR version of this game, as with the old 2D game, when things got flying I really got butterflies in my stomach and will never forget that "first" experience of that game. I remember I would get rapid breathing and my heart started jumping, just out of a slow framerate and 2D graphics viewed on a blurry CRT television, so that is pretty amazing!




Update 07 Jun 2022:

The past weeks where spent on finetuning the physics of the car, wheels, colliders, trigger points, gravity, velocity and handling of car towards jumps. There are so many parameters to tweak to get this close to the original. I added a screenshot after I successfully managed to find the proper values of required speed to make this long jump (180mph or 336km) which is pretty darn fast. Anything over naturally overshoots the car slightly, but as the max limit of the car in the original game is set to (210mph/386km) it actually lands still on the end of track but you are dangerously close to keep flying off (just like original game).

I had to add some trigger points when car left the jump, mid-jump and when it arrived on the tip of the other side. Also, I had to add a "look at target" function to make sure the cockpit rotates towards the landing point which turned out super great and realistic (otherwise you would keep the nose up in the air as you left the jump, making you only see the skies which are wrong during descent).

I had also problem with the sharp turns which also angles downwards making the car (even with no speed) appear to slide sideways as if the track was oiled or icy, which is completely unnatural. I managed to adjust some "Sideways Friction" and some slip values to keep that from happening, but only after so many hours of headache!

Finally, I have problems that the steering gets lost when inside these sharp angled downwards turns, probably some physics that go haywire. At the moment, the tires are with colliders and wheel logic from the built-in stuff in Unity, but seems I'm better off just rotating the entire Camera VR RIG (and the car inside) on the y-axis to really get this under control. Afterall, this experience isn't meant to be 100% accurate to nature and car physics, but rather be 100% true to the original game which this is based on.

Another thing that worked great was to mimic sitting inside a cockpit with your headset, you beeing stuck inside the car and follow the car. This was solved by creating an XR RIG as usual in Unity, but I placed the entire rig inside the car object, thus making it a child of the car. The car has a controller script which moves the car which naturally takes you and the VR headset along on the ride. It works like a real charm and happy it was so easy to solve really. I will probably have to check if player walks out of the car and jacks the XR RIG back into its original position. I probably also have to give a warning if player is standing up or sitting down (intended position), as its also quite scary to stand upright driving this car on those Dangerous Switchbacks!

During coding and testing, I must admit that this experience created will probably be the most nerve wrecking experience as it runs at high speed, have some major large tracks and jumps that makes your inner brain go dizzy. This experience is NOT for weak minded or people prone to motion sickness. This experience do bear the word "Dangerours" from day-1 as it really really is like that!

In the next days or weeks, I will try to fix the steering control of XR Rig as well as maybe detect standing/sitting modes as well as "people walking out of cockpit" before I will either start to initiate development on Episode #09 [12-1985]
"Cross-country Scope Challenge" just to break off my mind into car mechanics and to continue on my other VR Episodes.

I also did some minor things on the other posted Episodes, but nothing particular to write home about, so these other episodes will be updated when major things appear. It's quite a job to manage now 4 full blown VR projects at the same time, but it also helps getting a break from one, going back to solve things on other episodes in a different environment instead of just keep hacking on the same episode for weeks. I'm glad that I have only half-started so many other projects, as each coding in "that" episode, makes maybe another problem in "other" episode become easier to solve as code can just quickly be pasted between these in Unity.





26 May 2022:
A screenshot from the current Unity project that was created in January 2021 and was worked on towards June 2021, where almost 1 year later brought me back to it today :-)

Need to get the headset working, as the previous project was coded for Windows PC and arrow keys only (due to lack of not having an actual VR headset during Jan-Jun 2021!)



26 May 2022:
Just a quick hasty screeshot taken from inside the Quest 2 headset.



07 Jun 2022:
Here's a view of the car mid jump, while coding and adjusting values in Unity to match closely the original.






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Posted by: GameDeveloper, Stone Oakvalley | Publisher: Website Designer, Stone Oakvalley
Last revised: August 25, 2022 - 21:14 | Page views: 82


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