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Andrea Melin, very found of video games, and currently ending a product designer apprenticeship at Orange, has been working on some virtual reality projects. Thanks to that, she learnt to use the development kit Unity. This year, she had the opportunity to animate a workshop during the Design Talks, and also a code room. This enabled her to share all the knowledge she acquired with some of Orange employees interested in this topic.
It is not really a code room, because those are usually more about coding. There is some in Unity, but it is more oriented on how to use this software, more than coding in itself. The aim is to make sure that this tool can be accessible for developpers (who might be bored on the coding part) as well as designers.
I am a total fan of video games, I just love them. Unity is a software lunched about 15 years ago, and that really made a change in the engine game market. Before that, there was essentially Unreal Engine, which is another big software, that was kind of expansive. Unity came up with a personal free license, which has logically opened the way.
And this software is really dynamic, there is a lot of updates. For instance, nowadays, it has virtual reality options. This is the main reason why we use it at Orange, 70% of softwares are currently develop on Unity.
So the fact that I love video games and the desire to create one of my own, lead me to use Unity. Which is more or less a good idea… because we quickly realize that if we want to personalize elements, we need to learn to code. And online tutorials are made by programmers, for programmers… We often face some blind alleys, because everything goes very fast. We don’t always understand what they are trying to say. For instance, notions like variables, or curls, but no one takes the time to explain exactly what each expressions means.
One thing for sure, videogame were their gateway. Today, they are turning theirselves toward animated films, everything that uses 3D.
But Unity’s main asset is that unlike most of 3D softwares, it doesn’t have render time. There is no need to calculate the set of images, we can test it in live and see how the effects will look like. So yes, there is going to be a short amount of loading time but it is nothing comparing to the 3,4, or maybe 12 hours that you can have on some classical 3D softwares.
It is also used in automotive industry, especially with VR, when it comes to interfaces. This allows to test HUD (numerical interfaces), for that people can realize how it looks before building.
In architecture, it is not very widespread yet… eventhought we are leaning toward it. But there is other fields that are using it, in fact it is quiete diverse. We can use it anytime there is some 3D involve, and that we want live render.
I think that it can be a good tool too. Anyway, Unity counts a lot on mixed realities, and they are aware that they have a short advance in the field.
I came to understand that only few people know Unity. And I am working on some VR projects at Orange, like VR collaboration for example. I needed to manipulate the software, eventhough I didn’t use it everyday. I’ve noticed that slowly but surely when the project was entering in some slow phases, I was losing my skills. So I said to myself: “why not lunching a Unity workshop ?”. That way other people could discover it. I wanted to create a kind of dynamic around the software, but outside Orange’s code rooms. I knew that some of those are using Unity, but it wasn’t the case in Châtillon. As an apprentice, it was a bit scary to lunch a workshop, but the people were very caring and receptive to it.
Yes, it was based on a particular tool of Unity, which is called Unity Playground. It’s a plugin that offers already made and pre-coded modules that we can… I wouldn’t say slot but in any case we can easily put them on the scene to realize some actions.
For example, if we want to create a little scoring system (where the player has to destroy some targets to make a score) we can easily move the elements. The player is moving, he can shoot projectiles, those projectiles are going to increment a score, and this score at a certain point is going to make the player win.
At the Designtalks, I was really facing some people that don’t code at all. I wanted to show them that it can be accessible. But Unity is a bit like a labyrinthine system. There is a bit of everything… There is some animation, we can create what we call “shaders” which actually are some textures, more precisely, materials made of code that will generate the shape.
Yes totally ! This is a comparision that we can make. This software is very full, so automatically when you open it for the first time, it can be scary.
Maybe it has, regarding logic, I think it made me more square. Then again, we all design in a different way. Coding is about thinking how we are going to do to go further. How we are starting from an idea, and how we decompose it. For exemple, a simple thing like moving around a character, calls for mathematics formulas. In the world of computing, we have coordinates, the idea of vectors.
What has really changed for me is that now, I know that I can start with an idea, decompose it and try to find elements to give it shape. In fact, it is easier now that I have explaining it to other people. It enabled me to gain skills, and to boost my knowledges.
That’s the idea! When I first started using Unity, I was like: “Ok I’d like to do a character who takes a balloon, and travels all around the world… How am I suppose to do that ?” Now I know that he would have to move up to the balloon, and that a button would be needed to activate the next.
Most of all it allows to have a better overview of the project. I think that if designers had some notions on programming, this could help them understand the different step in a project. It give us a better understanding of the developers work and their methods.
First of all, there are the feedbacks. We realize that what we say is interesting, that there is a clear reception, and that other people can also be interested in the same topic. Oral expression also enters in account. As designers, we don’t always have the opportunity to publicly speak, which is too bad because it’s a great thing to do to improve one self confidence, and also to try some new things, and to see how we can interact with the public.
It also makes much more easier what can sometimes be complicate in a big company like Orange : meeting people, sharing ideas. There is a very friendly atmosphere indeed.
I think that once we share knowledges it can only bring something positive. If some people want to create workshops at Orange Gardens, I think that they should start. No one is going to throw them rocks even if they make some mistakes. We all do anyway.
Thank you! And I hope that within Orange there will be new initiatives created, and why not on the gaming side. It’s a field that offers way more opportunity that we think.
I have a professional Tweeter account on which I can be contacted: Andréa_Sekai, or on Linkedin, Andréa Melin.
It will regroup everything that is link with UX, so user experience video game oriented. I am going to try to lean over it, even if it’s a field, not much discussed, and also the game design.
Or on Linkedin, Andréa Melin.
Wonderful, thank you Andréa !
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