AnVRopomotron 1.1.5 Update Notes

Gold model of the hovering WebXR trophy on a gray pedestal, with a thumbs-up hand next to it

It’s a big update as I’ve been stockpiling changes due to things happening around the museum. See it now or read on for the changes.

  • AnVRopomotron won Education Experience of the Year at the inaugural WebXR Awards! What a huge honor. My prize is a custom trophy model with an NFT of authenticity (will NFTs be a thing? Who knows?). I’ve put up a replica trophy in the museum, between the starting foyer and the Scale Model Hall. Making the replica was an adventure in baking textures to capture the real time shine in a static image. I don’t even know how the text transferred because it was on its own shape in the original model and in the replica it is just there on the main structure. I’m not going to question it and just take the result. Some parts would bake and others wouldn’t and when I tweaked the settings it was the other way around. I eventually merged the working parts in a graphics editor. The twist in the column was an accident: I wanted to move the bottom face up but twisted it instead. It looked intriguing so I worked on that. Behold the trophy’s shiny glory and thanks to everyone involved with the Awards!
  • It’s a chimpanzee fest in the museum!
    • The main room gets a chimpanzee statue scanned from Austria that was posted to Sketchfab. The piece really captures the scope of the museum and the details are wonderful.
    • A male and female common chimpanzee strategize their way into the Scale Model Hall! I had planned chimpanzees for my first model but chimps are very hard to render (male gorilla became my first successful model). I figure it’s time to take the challenge on now. Chimp behavior is multi-faceted so I tried to capture the variety of chimp actions. The male is posed in mid-display, which is when a chimp flips out to intimidate and gain status. The female is modeled using a rock to crack a palm nut. Some modeling innovations may make it to older works and will definitely be standard in the future. The eyeballs are now separate models instead of connected to the face. This really helps in changing the gaze without a lot of hassle (my modeling is more for statues rather than animated figures and I have always had eyes face forward so I hadn’t taken this step before). Three separate materials were used to get different baked effects: low specularity for fur, medium for skin, and high for wet tissue like eyes and mouth. Behind the scenes I applied a modified Rigify rig for ‘easier’ posing. It added two weeks to the modeling process to learn Rigify enough but the next model would only take an hour to get to the same result so it really is easier now. I still set the pose and made manual tweaks to fix the geometry.

 

Models of chimpanzees displaying and cracking nuts

  • Transcript for the visually impaired or other uses is now available at tinyurl.com/anvrotext. I took the HTML file and removed the code to get just the text from around the museum. Then I added descriptions to all exhibits. This brings it up to standard for educational accessibility.
  • Experimental first person shooter controls on desktop, using fps-look-controls. A reticle almost straight from the A-Frame tutorial is there for aiming. I like this more familiar control system instead of mouse dragging.
  • On desktop, pressing c now crouches to 1 meter. Get some low views on those ground level primates.
  • Archicebus in the Grab Lab got a makeover. I was young and inexperienced making the original model and decimated the whole thing to squeeze polygons out. The tail suffered the most. My new goal is to have nice simple meshes so Archicebus got some curves back and a new tail. It has a more typical mammal coloration with a light belly and a dark tail tuft just for a little realistic flair. I also rigified this with a cat model for quick limb and tail posing.
Jagged old model of a squirrel-like primate

{ Old Archicebus, never to be seen again. }

Smoother and more detailed model of a squirrel-like primate

{ New and improved Archicebus. }

  • Grab Lab got the “Mrs. Ples” Austrlopithecus africanus cranium. It itself is an artifact being based on a replica from the mid 20th century.
  • Grab Lab also got the “Neo” Homo naledi skull, one of the newest discoveries of our messy family tree.
Blown-up model of Homo naledi

{ Finally got Homo naledi in here! }

  • I removed the green wall photo borders in the Scale Model Hall. This saves a draw call for each one and the look is now consistent with wall photos in the other exhibits. To be honest, without dedicated border controls, setting them up was a pain.
  • Fixed bug with grabbed artifacts going invisible when crossing zones. There was an occlusion class that inadvertently applied to all child objects within.
  • Fixed info box weirdness in the Calatrava and Paris burials.
  • Various little bug fixes that were actually hotfixed into the previous version. They include a misaligned Grab Lab sign, using the wrong Homo erectus model in the Grab Lab, and an array of typos.

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