The mid-semester update is here with new models and fast travel. See it here now or read on.
- Plesiadapis claws its way to the Scale Model Hall! A relative of primates, the plesiadapis looks like a large squirrel. As the oldest organism in the Scale Model Hall, it takes its place at the start of the row of prehistoric life and as the attractor to that part of the museum since the gibbon was moved back into a more appropriate location with the modern primates.
- The latest exciting discovery by Lee Berger and his team is in the VR Grab Lab. The reconstruction of Leti’s cranium features an intact midbrow and adult teeth in development. The VR ready model was made in stages. The original 10 million polygon (!) model was reduced to 2 million for later normal map baking. A copy was then taken down to 42,000 for vertex coloring based on published photos of the real replica. Lastly, another copy was taken down to 6,400 polygons, which is near the limit before the object outline became distorted. Details were then baked to this smallest model for huge rendering and file size savings.
- With the new floorplan, now is the time to work on strategically placed mini maps to warp the user to different exhibits. To reduce draw calls, maps will surreptitiously move through exhibits to be near you. The Centerpiece map at the start is mostly static since it is viewable from a lot of angles but it will move to the Scale Model Hall if you go deep in to the exhibit. The other map flits between the the exhibits more freely, starting in the Grab Lab but going where needed. Grab a carrot to go quickly to another exhibit.
- The warp comes with an effect to ease VR sickness. It is a ring primitive just off camera that is timed to shrink its inner ring until everything is obscured, move the camera to the new location, and expand the ring out of view again.
- Tweaks of the infrastructure to fine tune it to the new floorplan.
- The movement of the single dynamic light following you is more subtle.
- Occlusion tweaks to be more hidden, especially the rhesus monkey.
- WebXR Award trophy ground shadows fixed to match model rotation.