Bad Oberdinkelheim Gets a Wall

The last game I created was done under time pressure: It took me roughly 1.5 years to learn 3D modeling and texturing in Blender, game programming in Unity, and get the instructional materials created in time to teach the the topic of German waste management and recycling systems within the context of two-way prepositions. Oh, and also get the assessment instruments created and IRB approval finalized. Sometimes I felt like I had a “launch window” of a few days and I was trying to get the whole project finished in time to get the rocket to the pad.

Anyway, the game was completed and the experiment ran – and the results will be appearing sometime this year in ReCALL Journal. The compromise was, that the game was never truly finished: The buildings were oddly located in the middle of a flat plane that stretched to what was apparently infinity. In actuality, if the players had the patience they could have walked to the edge of this virtual world and walked off the edge into oblivion. What was sorely needed was a virtual object that confined player movement to a specific space, but at the same time gave them the sense of unconfined possibility. Something that logically kept players in their place without being too blatant about it. In sum, a virtual wall for a virtual town. And as the fictional town of Bad Oberdinkelheim is an old German town with a rich medieval past, a medieval wall is in order (loosely based on the city walls of Nürnberg):

What’s nice about designing 3D models for a game is, that you only really need to finish one side of the model. As the wall is meant to keep player activity limited to a game space, they will (hopefully) never see the other side of the wall. Productivity is so much quicker, and applying UV textures is simpler.

It has taken me about one week to get back into the swing of Blender. The interface has changed a bit since I last played with it. But once I started figuring out where the buttons are and started remembering the keyboard shortcuts, it all started to come back to me. And it seems to me that finding instruction is easier than it used to be. I used to have to scour books on how to get things done in Blender; instruction now seems to be so much easier to find on YouTube. Such as this video on how to bend models, which I relied on in developing the arches for the wall:

So, I’m finally back in the Blender saddle and hope to get more work done on the project in the near future. And, if all goes well, another article (or book?) out the door in the near future.

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