Gulls in Progress

This “open world” game is a prototype for an idea I had about making a virtual environment where you can drive around a parking lot, disrupting flocks of birds.

What you see here (and can play online) is the mid-stage of this game in which I’ve figured out the core animations and some scenery lighting effects. The bird was pretty fun to rig up since I don’t have much experience with this – I was able to rig and animate the bird (using a free obj) in Maya and export the animation clips for Unity. I think the blending of animations between walking/flying worked really well. I animated the cars and their wheels procedurally, using scripts in Unity. I set up a system that allowed me to animate paths using a set positions, that the car could then follow automatically. The result is these creepy sort autonomous agents roaming around the lot at night, seemingly aimlessly.

(Would recommend not going fullscreen for better framerates)

High-Level Ideas for the Future of this Project

Once the prototype had gotten to this stage, I thought more about the possibilities of different relationships between the birds, these autonomous cars, and the lot itself. If I decide to continue forward with this project, I think it would be interesting to allow the user to play from the perspective of the car’s AI as it learns about the outside world. Ideally, the game would start very abstractly, where the player only sees a cloud of points that sometimes seems to make sense and subtle geometric properties emerge from simple interactions. Depending on what connections the player makes about regularities within the cloud of points, their vision will either solidify into understanding the lines defining parking spaces and roads, or it will solidifying into an intensified view of the bird’s flocking behavior. In this way, the game gives agency to the player over what purpose the vehicle ultimately fulfills. It may do what it was designed to do and drive perfectly and elegantly without crashing, or it may learn to behave more naturally and move more fluidly and organically as a part of the flock.

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