Friday, 20 April 2018
A 3D/VR Virtual Table Top/Wargames Room
As mentioned in the last post my physical space for gaming has taken a dive for a month or so, and that proved to be the kick I needed to look at a 3D/VR virtual table top or virtual wargaming room. It's a project that's been in the offing for ages, ever since my Second Life days. I've used on-line 2D tools to do tabletop map movement (but not graduated yet to Roll20), but I want something that really feels like I'm using a physical tabletop.
Now it just so happens that in the day job we've created something called Fieldscapes - www.fieldscapesvr.com, a 3D/VR authoring tool for learning and training, so I decided to see if I could press this into service as a 3D/VR VTT.
Initially I made a virtual, modular, Hexon table in Unity, along with some suitably sized (10 & 20cm frontage) blocks, brought them into Fieldscapes, laid them out and dropped in. And yes, I could pick up a block with the hand controller and move it on the table!
So I next made/bought/rescaled some simple terrain pieces (woods, hills, bridge, houses), and found a nice simple 3D "quality street" type soldier and cavalry man that I could shrink down to about 20mm and base up. In these came, and not only could I move them but just as in real life I could crouch down by the table top to look at them more closely.
On the next iteration I added some shelves to put example soldiers on (so no need to crouch), added separate tables for Horse & Musket and WW2 (found something to use as ~ 1/32nd tanks and men), and also created two map tables (using Google Maps images), and one table with a 3D sculpted terrain. I also put in a web browser screen so you can bring rules up in world!
In theory all these bits are multi-user, so someone else should be able to come in world and play with them with me - that's the next test! Then after that we see if we can scale up to a reasonable force on the table.
There is no doubt it seems a very real experience (right down to now having a floor littered with discarded soldier - and some just hanging in space!), but there is also no doubt that I wouldn't want to wear the current generation of VR headsets for a 1 hr+ gaming session. But things will evolve.
Finally, here's a current long shot of the room. I'm currently camped out in our Daden Campus building, but may get something a bit grander in due course!