A student demonstrates a virtual reality experience.

Senior Students Reveal Interactive Multimedia and Design Projects

By Ariel Vered
Photos by Chris Roussakis

Carleton University’s School of Information Technology held its end-of-year Interactive Multimedia and Design Senior Project Fair on April 8 featuring nine student projects ranging from virtual reality experiences to a navigation aid for the blind and an augmented reality board game.

“It’s a culmination of a year’s worth of work,” said Eric Aylward, who presented Odyssey: A VR Experience. His group wanted to develop something where it feels as if you’re moving in space.

“It’s pretty neat to interact with something that you’re perceiving as real, but it’s obviously not.”

The students organized themselves in groups based on the interests they’ve developed over their previous three years in the Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) program.

“We chose to do [our project] because we wanted the challenge of melding a physical experience with a digital experience,” said David Fingland.

His team developed Unfathomable Journey, a board game that uses a mobile component and augmented reality. “We feel like there’s a lot of potential with this sort of technology.”

Revisiting Previous Concepts

The projects enabled students to tackle ideas that hadn’t been showcased in recent years.

Christine Riddell was the gameplay programmer and project manager for Inspirit, a platform where two players are in the same room and must co-operate with each other to get to the next level.

“When we spoke to our adviser, he said there’s been a lot of attempts in the past few years to do fully co-operative games and basically all of them fail,” she recalled. “So, we focused on the puzzles’ designs to make sure that there is no way you can do anything without fully working together. It was a motivation.”

“There hasn’t been a live action visual effects project since our first year; we thought it would be cool to bring that back,” said Taryn Laurendeau, of the sci-fi live action trailer H.E.L.M. (Holographic Environmental Looping Matrix), which features computer-generated and two-dimensional effects and worked with subtle environmental effects in a storyline about a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Similarly, the group behind Halen: Ballad of the Blade Thief also sought to fill a void of story-driven game projects, “something that we’ve noticed in the past four senior projects wasn’t really done,” said Nick Burns. “We thought, why not try to bring that back?”

Interactive Multimedia and Design Benefit from Industry Expertise

The groups were judged by a panel of industry experts on their formal presentations. After a year modifying their projects based on advice and opinions from their academic advisors, this was a chance to find out what industry people think.

“The judging is important for us to get some exposure to the industry,” said Scott De Vouge, whose group produced Night of Noir, a film noir short film that combines 3D graphics and live actors. “We are hoping that they like our project and would consider our skills marketable.”

Some of the groups plan to work on their projects beyond the constraints of school timelines.

“It’s something you’ve put so much work into that it’s something you can continue to work on it after,” said Aylward.

The Halen group plans to stay together as the independent SkyPyre Studios and continue making other smaller game titles.

“For us, it’s a great time to break into this industry because people are looking away from buying expensive triple A [titles] and looking toward more high quality, well thought-out independent titles,” said Burns. “We are coming out of university at the perfect time to try to do this.”

While some groups showcased their projects at the previous weekend’s Capital Gaming Expo seen by hundreds of people, the senior Interactive Multimedia and Design project fair was eagerly anticipated.

“It feels great to see everything come together,” said Fingland. “All of our friends and family are going to come to see it, so it will be great to show it off. It’s a great end of the fourth-year experience.”

Student play board games developed by their classmates.Student play board games developed by their classmates.Student play video games developed by their classmates.A student demonstrates a virtual reality experience.A student demonstrates a virtual reality experience.A student demonstrates a virtual reality experience.