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Emre Tanirgan - Launch Pad "Paradiddle"

Level 4
Hey everyone! I realized I still haven't done a proper introduction on the Facebook group, so I figured I'd just do it here. I'm Emre, I graduated about a year ago from UPenn with my Bachelor's and Master's in computer graphics programming. I've been dabbling in VR/AR for about 2 years now, and it's been a really interesting and exciting ride so far! I first got involved with VR when I interned at Disney Imagineering R&D, working on VR tools for our VR CAVE system called the DISH, for design and previs purposes. Afterwards, I worked on a senior project with 3 of my mechanical engineer friends called DORA, which was a telepresence robot that could be wirelessly controlled by a user wearing an Oculus DK2. After graduating I went back to my old team at Disney Imagineering for a longer internship, where I worked on more VR tools and experiences, and also got the chance to collaborate with Lucasfilm/ILMxLAB on some VR projects. Now I've just started working at Magic Leap as a prototype developer, but I'm still just as passionate about VR!

Project Intro
I was a drummer in the marching band in college, and ever since graduating I've been wanting to find more ways of practicing the drums in my free time. I've thought about getting a drum set many times, but I decided it's not worth the money and the effort since I've been moving a lot. So as I got to try out the Oculus Touch and Vive, I started thinking about this idea of a virtual drum set/percussion tool. I love the fact that skills can very much transfer between real life and VR, so I kept thinking about how great it would be if I could actually practice the drum set in VR. If you know any drummers, you'll know that they have a tendency to tap on things or air drum even if they're not around actual drums. I do this a lot too, so I figured the lack of actual physical surfaces to hit might not be that much of a hindrance to be able to practice the drums, and I set out to design and prototype this tool.

In addition to this, I started thinking about how I could use VR to my advantage to differentiate it from an actual drum set and let users do things that they'd never be able to in real life. This spawned ideas such as being able to drag and position an unlimited number of drums in your environment, recording/playing back sessions in different speeds, recording sequences and looping them on certain drums, multiplayer capabilities (VR drum circles!), and a bunch of other ideas that I seem to be forgetting right now. Basically I thought that if I could get the basic feeling of playing the drums close enough, I could then add some of these interesting features to take it one step further than being a drum set replacement. 

Initial Goals
I'd like to go in further detail about my full development plan later, since I've taken quite a lot of notes on it, but my initial goal was to develop a prototype for myself that would prove whether a VR drumming tool would be feasible/usable. I thought the most important things for this very early stage prototype would be:
  • Realistic drum sounds: there should be some variation in the sound as the user hits different types of drums, hits them harder/softer, or on different spots such as the edge vs the center of the drum. This is probably the most important part of the whole tool for me, if it is to replicate the feel of an actual drum set. 
  • Basic drum set: 1 snare, 2 toms, 1 hi-hat, 1-2 crash cymbals and a kick drum would be the bare minimum.
  • Experimentation for kick drums and hi-hat: since feet aren't tracked with the big VR systems that are out right now, I'd have to try out some different ways of using these drums. I thought the trigger could be a viable option for these, but I wasn't sure how well my brain would be able to adapt to it.
  • Basic feedback: Some basic visual/haptic feedback in addition to the sound cues that play as the user hits the drums.
I thought hitting these points would be enough for me to evaluate whether a tool like this could actually work in VR. I didn't want to worry about visuals at all in this stage, because I don't like committing to any visual styles until I have the feel of the experience nailed down. I have some ideas on a couple of visual styles but I'll probably go more in detail in a later post. 

Development and Early Results
I went with Unreal Engine as my game engine of choice, mainly because I find the blueprint system to be a very powerful prototyping tool. I've found that the type of visual scripting Unreal supports really works with the way I think, and I also like that I can build components and functions in C++ that I can use from the blueprint side if I ever need to. After using Unreal to work on some more complex plugins at Disney, I was also feeling a bit more comfortable with Unreal to build my own custom plugins, if I ever wanted to implement my own pipeline at any point in this project. 

I spent my free time over a few weeks on a simple prototype, focusing on those key points that I had identified. I figured a good way to test how natural and easy this tool feels would be to actually try and play a song in it, so here's an early stage demo video!

First of all, I'm happy to say that I was able to play a song here that I can play on the actual set, which is definite proof of the skill transfer between real life and VR!  As for my specific goals, I think I was able to hit most of them. The drum sounds do vary as the user varies speed, and I'm currently working on adding variation based on where the drums are hit. The kick drum seems to work fine with the trigger, and I actually found myself getting more and more used to it as I got past the initial learning curve. I'm not totally convinced on how I have the hi-hat working right now though, so I'll be revisiting that. As for feedback, I only have haptic feedback right now and I'll be experimenting with some ways of doing visual feedback. Based on the results from this early test, I think something like this is indeed feasible, and could be useful/fun! It will be time consuming to fine-tune and polish, as expected, but I'm excited to plan out the project more in depth in the coming weeks. 

Future Plans

I have a lot of ideas on features to add, the user experience, and just random details about this project, so my plan is to gather those up in a design document. I like working in sprints, so once I figure out my major milestones to hit, I'll separate those into features and tasks I need to accomplish, and them distribute them within 2 or 3 week sprints. I've found that trying to accomplish one or two of those smaller tasks on a day where I decide to work on this project is a good way to get myself close to my milestones, without losing my direction. 


I have a few questions so far, so if any of you are able to help that'd be great! 

  • Does anyone have experience creating mixed reality videos for VR demos? If so, how hard are they to set up? I find that they are usually really powerful in demonstrating VR experiences, like this Tilt Brush video. I've read that Unity has some sort of plugin for this but as far as I know Unreal doesn't so far. I think a video in that style could help demonstrate my project better, but if it's going to be too much effort I'd probably focus on the more important tasks first. 
  • What screencap software would you recommend for recording VR sessions? I've been using OBS and that seems to be working okay, though I'm only recording the small window that Unreal pops up on my desktop, not the actual VR window as far as I know. I'd like to be able to record the gameplay with the full field of view that I see in the headset.
  • Someone already asked about this in the Facebook group, but would we be able to get Oculus Touch units if our project needed them? I'd like to also work develop and test this on my Oculus CV1, but unfortunately my project is only meaningful with the use of motion controllers. That's why I currently have to keep developing on my Vive, but I'd love to develop for Touch as well and see how I can best adapt the experience to fit the different motion controller form factors.
That's it for this week - any comments, questions or feedback in general is appreciated!

Level 5
Awesome demo! This does seem like a project well suited for HTC Vive, as in the video. I hope you can get some motion controllers, and develop this for Oculus as well. 

...I wish I could set up a Vive in the space where my boyfriend keeps his drum kit that he never uses anymore. Perhaps seeing your video will help convince him it's time for a change of instruments! 😉

Level 2
I also graduated from UPenn! Undergrad only, though. 

Level 4

Definitely want to try making one of these for a demo. I think it's been the best way to advertise for these new VR games.

Level 4
Check out Google Daydream Labs experimental drum set.  Fast forward 5:00 minutes in and also 25:45 minutes in.

Level 4
@erica_layton let me know if you do end up getting a Vive any time in the future, I'd love to share the project with you two and get feedback from another drummer! I'm probably going to start sending out a build to more people once I polish it up a tiny bit more. 
@3DNegro thanks for sending that video, can't believe I missed that! It's cool to see other people experimenting with this as well, though sometimes I feel that the more I see other people trying to do the same things the harder it becomes to keep sticking to your idea. Although I think I'd actually like to take this all the way through and release an app, even if there are similar tools that are coming out for the Vive/Oculus Touch. I'm really excited to start experimenting with multiplayer features once I have the basics down, because I really want to get a VR drum circle going at some point in this tool!

Level 4
I realized that I forgot my Week 2 updates - so here's a brief summary:

I started writing up a game design doc based on a template we used at Penn for my game development class. It lends itself better for actual games with objectives and a win/lose condition better, but I'm modifying certain parts to fit my project better. If there's any interest in what that template looks like, I can share my design doc once I'm done writing it up. 

I didn't add any new features on Week 2, though I tried playing some more songs to identify what needs fixing currently. I'm aiming for an experience that's very user friendly, controls that are easy to learn yet somewhat difficult to master. Drumming itself feels that way to me, which makes it that much more rewarding once you start getting the hang of it and playing some more complex songs. I think player onboarding will be key in introducing all the controls and features, and I'll have to think of ways to keep this simple as I keep adding more features. I really like how Tilt Brush introduces you to the app - it's very subtle, yet it makes sure it covers everything you need to know to start using it, even if this is your first time in VR.

I'll be posting a Week 3 update shortly as well!

Level 5
@emre_tanirgan Im interested in seeing your modified GDD. Im trying to modify a GDD some of the other Launchpad participants have shared, and am curious to see how someone else might edit it. 🙂

Level 4
I started writing up a game design doc based on a template we used at Penn for my game development class. It lends itself better for actual games with objectives and a win/lose condition better, but I'm modifying certain parts to fit my project better. If there's any interest in what that template looks like, I can share my design doc once I'm done writing it up. 

@emre_tanirgan I would be interested in seeing this. Game design is new to me. I'm at, if you have time to pass it along. Thanks! 🙂

Level 4
Here's what I'm basing mine on: . I'll also post my version once I'm done writing it up. Also, here's another document that we had to write in class for our game ideas called the High Concept Document, that's supposed to be a brief pitch/overview of your project: . I hope these help!