Christy Dena was commissioned to create a 3D installation for a 6 month digital writing residency at The Cube. The Cube is a world-class Science and Technology center at QUT in Australia. The installation, called ‘Robot University,’ was made for multiple large touch-screens, projectors, and motion-sensing Kinects.
“It was a great opportunity to create an interactive work, but it meant we had to produce it for an unusual implementation in a short period of time. We ran a playtest-driven production cycle, with a prototype created for testing with paper and pen and a tablet on day one.”
One of the interactions was with a robot the user could talk to through dialogue selections. I began writing with mind mapping software, and some online tools. But I needed to find a solution that would work with Unity, and would give me more freedom with the interaction design. After trialling different software programs, I came across ChatMapper. We used The Dialogue System plugin with it and found the process a breeze. I was able to write the dialogue quickly, matching branches and even entering the animations and audio files that would be triggered with each interaction. I then exported the file and sent it to the programmer to load into Unity. This process meant that I was able to iterate the writing and animations and audio commands as many times as I needed. The effort on the programmer’s end for this was incredibly low, and so I didn’t feel the pressure of forcing big changes in the code each time I wanted to tweak. Such production upsets usually results in having to lock off the writing early and being stuck with dialogue that isn’t ideal. As I was designing and directing the entire project too, the ability to iterate the writing whenever I had the chance and right up to the last second was a development dream. Since then, I have been heartily recommending ChatMapper to my colleagues and students!