About raniceyue

Year 3 CS Undergraduate taking CS4240!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Insaniquarium (2002)

Background

Insaniquarium - Wikipedia

For this game review, I will be writing about the PC game, Insaniquarium. Insaniquarium was a winner of the Excellence in Design category of the Independent Games Festival (IGF) back in 2002. It is an old PC game, and when I first got the game, it was on a CD. The game was build on PopCap Games’ proprietary game engine. It was developed by Flying Bear Entertainment, and published by PopCap Games

Here is a picture of me with the Insaniquarium CD

Insaniquarium does not have it’s own official website. Here is an embedded video of a sample of the gameplay.

A farming game, but like, with fishes

The game is set in a fish tank. You buy and feed fish. When the fish grow to a substantial size, they will begin pooping out coins, which you have to collect. You can have up to 3 special pets in each level in the tank as well, and each pet has a special ability that helps you in maintaining the tank.

Once you have amassed enough money, you can buy upgrades, such as better fish food, more creatures that poop out diamonds that help you earn more money, etc. In essence it is a farming game, where at every level you have to begin farming from scratch.

The ultimate goal of the game is to buy eggshells to create a full egg to unlock special pets.

The challenge in the game, is to keep clicking to keep the fishes fed and alive, and also to kill any aliens that spawn in the tank. They spawn at any random location in the tank, and if they may eat or kill your fishes upon touching them.

Gameplay

This is a short bullet point of my gameplay experience playing 1 level

  • Feel anxious when the music fades and the alarm sfx comes on when the alien comes
  • I feel very frustrated when the aliens eat my fish
  • When aliens eat the prince fishes (fishes that turn blue after a long time of being alive) I feel devastated
  • In the harder levels, I feel stressed when multiple aliens come out and the fishes blindly swim towards the aliens to their deaths
  • I feel relief when the level ends when I finally manage to buy all the eggshells
  • I feel curious, excited and motivated at each level to unlock the new pets

General Analysis

Lens #1: The Lens of Emotion

Alien shoots rockets to target fishes, need to click on rockets to eliminate them.

First of all would be the lens of emotion. This game employs it a lot, and I definitely felt it when the aliens come out and start targeting my fishes. There is anxiety and frustration, but also a sense of relief and satisfaction after you kill the alien and see it explode with the sound effects.

Lens #4: The Lens of Surprise

Loud alarm bells play while a warning that an alien is coming flashes at the bottom of the screen. The alien can spawn anywhere in the tank.

The lens of surprised is used also in the alien spawning mechanic of the game, the alien spawns randomly and you have no idea where it will be, so you’ll always have to be on standby to click and blast the alien away from all the fishes. This element of surprise makes the game more exciting and challenging.

End of every game unlocks a surprise pet

While surprised is used in the challenging aspects of the game, it is also used in rewards. At the end of each level, after collecting each eggshell, the egg will hatch into a surprise pet that you may employ in your tank in future levels. The surprise lies in seeing what the pet looks like, and its special abilities (being able to feed fish, being able to help you kill aliens faster, etc.)

Lens #9: The Elemental Tetrad

Considering aesthetics, technology, mechanics and story…

The game gets a 10/10 for aesthetics, I feel. The movement of the fishes are very realistic, and the art style of the fishes, aliens and UI of the game are consistent. The animation is smooth, and really gives the feeling that the fishes are swimming in water.

For technology, as the game is very old, it does not require a lot to run the game. The game could even run on a raspberry pi. No controllers or other gear are required, as the only control in the game is by clicking using a mouse. As the game is relatively simple in graphics and does not have any insane installation requirements, there is not much to say on how the technology used by the game helps to enhance it.

The mechanics of the game revolve around protecting your fishes and keeping them alive, because the more fishes you have, the more money you will earn as the fishes are constantly pooping out money. The motivating factor for this, is the many upgrades and new aquatic creatures you can purchase in each level. Higher level aquatic creatures may eat your fishes, however in exchange they poop more expensive items such as diamonds or pearls.

Gaining more money as fast as you can can allow you to buy more eggshells to complete the egg and end the level. Players are motivated to continue on to complete every level, in order to complete the full collection of pets.

While the mechanics are great for making an entertaining game, there is a lack of story in the game. The end goal is just to collect all the pets, and there is no storyline. There is a final boss at the last level of the game, but there is no mention of the origins of the final boss, or even why there are aliens spawning in the tank. While the game is already good without a storyline, having a story in the game would give more meaning to the end goal of the game.

Lens #23: The Lens of Motivation

Game shows number of shells pieces left to completing egg, beside amount of money amassed

The end goal of each level is to get 4 eggshells that help to make one egg. Once you get the egg, the level is complete and the surprise pet is revealed. The game shows and motivates you towards your end goal by showing your progress in buying the eggshells, right next to the amount of money you’ve collected in the game.

Lens #39: The Lens of Meaningful Choice

Choosing 3 pets before every level

Before the start of every game, you are prompted to choose 3 pets from your collection of pets, to have in your tank in the next level. Each pet has a special ability, and based on the tank and types of aliens that may appear, you have to make an informed choice: Which are the most useful pets that’ll help me get to the next level in the most fastest and efficient way? It depends on your play style, and priorities (time, being less stressed about aliens, earning more money ASAP, etc.)

Upgrades available and their prices

In the middle of the game, upgrades can be purchased. With limited funds, players have to make an informed choice on what upgrades to purchase that’ll help them advance further in the game. The decision making is important as some upgrades are less productive than others. Ultimately, it’s about buying the eggshells.

Conclusion

There are a lot of good lenses used in this game, that help to make the game more interesting, as a farming type of game. There are more that I have not mentioned here due to the page limit, however as good as this game is, there are still some things lacking. That’s why nobody plays this game anymore and it’s considered dated.

One of my gripes with this game is that, there is really only one barely visible goal here, which is to collect all the pets available in the game. There is no story, while there is a final boss, there is no mention as to why we have to defeat this boss, before I reached the final level I never even knew there was even going to be a boss.

As a kid, I never thought much about all these things, which made this game the best game ever to me. Looking through the lenses of game design, while this game has interesting and exciting mechanics, it’s not something I would play again once I’ve defeated the boss.

Transcending Dimensions: Diving into the world of VR/MR headsets

Disclaimer

As I will be discussing the latest headsets, I will not be including headsets that are currently deprecated or soon-to-be-deprecated!

Examples

The world of VR & MR hardware can be intimidating, and it doesn’t help that manufacturers use complex technical marketing jargon for the purpose of product differentiation. Jargon aside, it is ultimately the immersion and presence that the hardware can provide that triumphs over all.

This article will therefore utilize the 2 main criterion of immersion and presence, to evaluate the latest VR & MR headsets that offer the best user experience.

Immersion

Immersion entails the ability of the headset to engage with the human experiential senses, i.e. vision, auditory engagement, touch etc.

Presence

Presence entails invoking the emotions of the user through putting the user through illusions, illusions that they exist within the virtual space projected by the headset, illusions that the user is really interacting with the entities in the virtual world, etc.

List of Hardware for VR/AR/MR that I think are GREAT

HTC Vive Cosmos

Source: https://www.vive.com/sea/product/vive-cosmos/features/

Type – Head Mounted Display for VR

Specs

  • FOV – 110 degrees
  • Resolution – 2880 * 1600 combined
  • Refresh Rate – 90Hz
  • Display – LCD
  • Audio – Built-in speakers + option to use own headphones
  • Tracking – Inside-out

The HTC Vive Cosmos’s most attractive feature is perhaps its ability to add on additional external (outside-in) tracking devices such as its optional HTC Base Stations to enhance and improve the performance of its pre-existing integrated inside-out tracking capabilities. This provides an extremely holistic and customizable tracking experience for consumers.

Magic Leap One

Source: https://www.techradar.com/sg/news/magic-leap-one

Type – Head Mounted Display for MR

Specs

  • FOV – 50 degrees
  • Resolution – 2560*1920 combined
  • Refresh Rate – 60Hz
  • Display – Waveguide
  • Audio – Built-in speakers + options for own headphones
  • Tracking – Inside-out + controllers

The Magic Leap One aims to differentiate itself from other competitors such as the Hololens 2 by isolating and separating the computing unit, which reduces the weight of the head-mounted unit and reduces fatigue for the user. Furthermore, the Magic Leap One’s was designed with its intended audience to be consumers, which is corroborated by its numerous partnerships with entertainment companies.

Microsoft Hololens 2

Close-up of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) display
Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/hardware

Type – Head Mounted Display for MR

Specs

  • FOV – 30 degrees
  • Resolution – 2536*1440 combined
  • Refresh Rate – 240hz (60hz content rate with 4 individual sequential colors)
  • Display – Waveguide
  • Audio – Built-in speakers + options for own headphones
  • Tracking – Inside-out + controllers

The Microsoft Hololens 2 features see-through holographic lenses with light engines. For haptics, it has 4 light cameras for head tracking, IR cameras for real-time eye tracking. Controllers are not needed for this HMD, as the hololens is able to sense and track the user’s hand gestures. This makes for a more intuitive user experience as users are seemingly able to interact with entities projected by the HMD without the use of any additional hardware.

Samsung HMD Odyssey+

Samsung Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality VR Headset Now Available – Everything  You Need to Know
Source: Samsung

Type – Head Mounted Display for VR

Specs

  • FOV – 110 degrees
  • Resolution – 2880 * 1600 combined
  • Refresh Rate – 60Hz, 90Hz
  • Display – AMOLED
  • Audio – Built-in speakers
  • Tracking – Inside-out

Perhaps the most attractive feature of the Samsung Odyssey+ is its AMOLED display, which sets itself apart from its competitors and their generic LCD screens. In theory, AMOLED offers higher peak brightness and color vibrancy as compared to LCD, which may provide a better visual immersion for its users.

The Valve Index

Valve's Index VR headset will ship this June, with preorders starting May  1st - The Verge
Source: Valve

Type – Head Mounted Display for VR

Specs

  • FOV – 130 degrees
  • Resolution – 2880 * 1600 combined
  • Refresh Rate – 80, 90, 120Hz (Has experimental 144Hz)
  • Display – LCD
  • Audio – Built-in speakers + option for using your own headphones
  • Tracking – Relies on external (outside-in) tracking system (base stations), while it is sold with the Valve Base Station 2.0, this HMD is also backwards compatible with previous HTC Vive base stations

Valve Base Station 2.0

Source: https://www.valvesoftware.com/en/index/base-stations

Type – External Tracking Device

The Valve Base Station 2.0 is compatible with the VIVE Pro, VIVE Pro Eye or Cosmos Elite. as well as the Valve Index.

Each base station has a range of 7 meters, each with a FOV of 160 x 115 degrees. Up to 4 base stations can be used at once, for an up to 10m x 10m play space.

My Most Preferred Devices

VR – The Valve Index + Base Station 2.0

Source: https://www.valvesoftware.com/en/index

The Valve Index boasts a wide range of refresh rates, from 80Hz up to an experimental 144Hz. This creates a smooth and realistic visual experience. This is important for the visual immersion aspect of the user’s experience as higher refresh rates offer lesser ghosting, less screen tearing. For fast paced games such as FPS games, higher refresh rates can offer a competitive edge as a result of this smoother experience

The Valve Index also has the widest FOV (130 degrees) amongst all the the other latest VR headsets in the market today, such as the Oculus Quest 2, and the HTC Vive Cosmos. This offers the closest experience to the FOV of the human eye (210 degrees). Although there is still much to be desired, this is the best we have. With a wider FOV, entails a smaller size of black borders that are endemic with VR headsets with smaller FOVs, which contributes to a greater illusion of being in a stable spatial space and physical interaction. These features reduces the chances of a fourth-wall-breaking experience.

The Valve Index also allows for external headphones to be used in lieu of the in-built speakers provided by the headset. This allows the user to fine-tune their auditory experience to their liking and comfort level. For example, using noise-cancelling headphones to create greater isolation from external noise, which improves auditory immersion.

The Valve Index relies on external tracking via base stations. The external tracking system allows for more precise tracking of the user within the play space, being able to triangulate the user’s location within the space in ways that an internal tracking system can’t. The precision to which each gesture is captured adds to the illusion of self-embodiment of the user in the virtual world.

MR – Microsoft Hololens 2

Close-up of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) display
Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/hardware

Comparing the Magic Leap One vs Microsoft’s Hololens 2, the Hololens 2 provides an overall more intuitive experience due to its hand-tracking technology. Unlike the Magic Leap One, the Hololens 2 offers a controller-less and hands-free tracking experience which significantly improves the sensory immersion aspect of touch.

Furthermore, since the Magic Leap One’s headset is separated from the computing unit, it requires a cable to be connected to it which introduces fourth-wall breaking inconveniences such as cable drag and microphonic noises.

Lastly, the Hololens 2 boasts a blazing-fast refresh rate of 240hz over the Magic Leap One’s 60hz, which offers an unparalleled visual experience that is smooth and lag-free.

However, we also have to bear in mind that the Magic Leap One’s intended users are everyday consumers, and its $1000 USD price difference as compared to the Hololens 2 is testament to that. As such, although it is easy to chalk up these discrepancies in technical features as cost-cutting measures, the Magic Leap One provides an accessible entry point for the everyday consumer looking to dive into the world of MR.