Testing the Portara Engine with Halo 2 Assets

In our new VRMMORPG, we are beginning to test gunplay. While starting to get the guns in order, my programmer asked me to put together a sandbox testing area for guns. I thought to myself, “What has the best, most balanced gunplay in video games?” Of course, the answer is Halo so I dug up some old Halo 2 assets (the multiplayer level Coagulation, some gun models, and of course the Master Chief player model) and began testing. So far, the guns seem to work pretty well in the Portara engine, but there’s still a LOT of work to be done. It’s very promising to see Halo 2 content running without lag on an iPhone with online multiplayer! Here’s hoping for a Halloween release!*

*please note that we will NOT be selling our game with any copyrighted material in it; including, but not limited to Halo assets.

Battling Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.54.00 PM

As many of my followers know, I’m working on a virtual reality game– the world’s first VRMMORPG codenamed Project Portara. I’m in charge of all the things you will see and hear in the game, which includes level design.

I upgraded to Mac OS X El Capitan so I could get the Xcode 7 Beta. This allowed me to finally play-test Project Portara in real VR and with the Steelseries Stratus bluetooth controller. As amazing as this was, it became very clear that motion sickness is going to be an obstacle in the user experience. I strapped on my Google Cardboard to my family and close friends, and watched them stumble about while watching them in-game on my Mac. Most were able to play for a maximum of 5-10 minutes before getting sick.

My little brother is a frequent gamer, and he was the only other person besides me who could play indefinitely without getting sick– it’s interesting how it seems like people could build up a tolerance for screens– is it cause of effect? Are gamers people who are capable of staring at screens for hours, or does gaming make people capable of staring at screens? I’ll run some tests at a later date, but for now, I’ve got to treat this symptom with proper UI and level design.

I found that putting a stationary object in the middle of the screen (such as a weapon or UI) helps players by giving them a point of reference while looking around in 3D space. I’ve read that you can superimpose a “nose” in the middle of the screen. We added a sword to test. This definitely helped, but we’re going to have to add more for sure.

Now here came the tricky part– I added a set of islands (pictured above) to our game, but it honestly made me incredibly nauseous two days in a row. After playing the game for 10 minutes the first night, I got a migraine and quit work for the night very early. Thinking I only had a head cold, I tried again the next day And experienced the same results despite being in good health.

I realized that this area that I had spent three days designing would now have to be scrapped. I think that the island area of my world had three things that triggered headaches and motion sickness, and they are all things that I’m going to avoid in the future while doing level design for virtual reality entertainment.

1. Reflections. I added water with real-time reflections, and I think that for whatever reason, it messes with people’s eyes while wearing VR goggles. I’m curious to see if it’s just for Google Cardboard, or if people will experience the same troubles with the Oculous Rift.

2. Too much variance in terrain height. I added a lot of flat ground (to make it look good for the top-down view), and I think that constantly adjusting your eyesight to look around walls and across flat lands caused a little too much eyestrain. I’ll try to make terrain changes a little more gradual in the future.

3. Too close. Walls, pillars and hills were too close to the player all the time. You’d walk across a cluster of tiny islands, but when you turned a corner you’d be confronted with a wall. Constantly having to adjust your eyes from looking at distant objects, just to have a wall appear right in front of you actually became an issue when playing with a VR headset, so I’ll have to keep that in mind when I redesign this whole area.

Level 2

I’ve been working on a game over the past couple months, and it’s actually starting to look good enough to show screenshots! I’m super excited for Project Portara, as it will be the world’s first VRMMORPG, and one of the very first cross-platform MMORPG games. This is a screenshot from part of the game world– hope you enjoy!

#TrueColors Wallpapers!

I got my iPhone 6 from Zedd! It’s a 16gb silver model loaded with 100+ Zedd songs, 4 Zedd music videos, and one of ten custom Zedd themed wallpapers. I shot a Zedd phone unboxing, but I need to edit it first. While we wait for me to have enough time and energy to put into the video, here are all 10 Zedd custom wallpapers! I contacted the other winners (from #TrueBlue, #TrueBlack, #TrueOrange, etc) and we exchanged pictures! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Here we go– the last #TrueColors competition! This is the one we were waiting for, too– white is a color we think Lauren could do really well! The only problem is that I traveled to Watertown to visit my grandma for Mother’s Day, so I’m out of town! Lauren took over my DSLR and did a little photoshoot of her own while I was gone, and it turned out really well! If you’re interested in her entries, check them out here: http://instagram.com/lauren7campbell


This was my entry– very sloppily done on my Moto G phone. This is an old picture I took when I was messing with the shutter speed on my DSLR two years ago. I simply used the “Inkwell” filter on Instagram, and put up the hashtags and called it a day.

Now that the competition is over, we have a total of 3 chances to win the Grand Prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to go meet Zedd at his final True Colors event! We have a 3/550 chance, so it’s unlikely, but there’s hope of winning! Thank you all for keeping up with the updates– it means a lot!


Here we go– the color Lauren and I are NOT looking forward to; we just don’t do pink, but we gave it a half-hearted shot anyway. Again, I’m focusing on trying to help Lauren win an iPhone or Beats, but I also put in a picture or two for each competition just in case. I played around in Photoshop and came up with this submission:



I also used my Photoshop expertise to edit one of my favorite of Lauren’s photos– a quick snapshot of a tall building in Boston. Personally, I think the photo was one of the best photos in the contest, but I think that it’s so professionally done that the judges may have assumed the picture was stolen. Whoops!


#TrueTeal Winner!!

She did it!! Lauren won #TrueTeal– twice! She got 3rd prize and Honorable Mention both in the same competition! This means that she gets a t-shirt and an autographed poster from the internationally famous DJ, Zedd! This also means that between the two of us, we get a 3/550 chance at winning the Grand Prize, which is an all-expenses-paid trip to go meet Zedd at his last True Colors promotional event! Here we go– I’ll keep everyone updated! Here are the two pictures that Lauren won with!

The first photo is a drawing that Lauren made. We flipped it upside-down and lit up the back, then held up a hand mirror to give the correct reflection revealing the Zedd logo!

This second photo was taken at my Alma Mater– FLCC. We visited last week to see all my old friends before they graduated, and we took a stroll through the nature trails. This picture was taken on those nature trails, and Lauren’s amazing photographer’s eye caught the best angle of a blossoming tree.


Hello, all! It’s been a few days since I’ve made a post– I’m sorry! I’ve been helping Lauren take pictures in hopes of winning one of Zedd’s True Colors competitions, and today was #TrueTeal day! She drew an awesome Zedd logo, so we used that as a prop, and then we put some creative spins on it. Here were her entries– hope you enjoy!

We ended up taking a cake pan and propping it up on two buckets, then putting our phones underneath the cake pan to illuminate the photo. After a few minutes of brainstorming, we grabbed a small hand mirror and flipped the picture upside-down and backwards so it looked right in the mirror. We’re hoping that this extra element of creativity pulls us through the finish line with 1st or 2nd in the competition!

The last picture is another picture of water and oil and a phone light underneath. Personally, this is my favorite shot, but a similar shot didn’t win #TrueBlue so I’m not too confident about the competition.

If you want to check out Lauren’s Instagram account, she also took a few more photos for#TrueTeal, and they look great! Follow the link to check it out– give her a follow; her photos are great! https://instagram.com/laurel7leaves/


Today was #TrueGreen day! Once again, I threw out a picture to kinda compete in the competition, but I mostly helped Lauren with her submission. Here was mine:



And here were Lauren’s:


During this day, she posted some pictures that she had taken with her old camera, and the pictures she uploaded didn’t turn out so well after we viewed it on our computers as we were waiting for the judges to assign 1st and 2nd prize winners. The photo of the leaf really came out nice, and we thought she had a great shot at winning a prize! Once again we didn’t win, but we’ll try again tomorrow! We have some good ideas for the next couple colors.