Virtual World Design: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Virtual World Design

1st Edition

By Ann Latham Cudworth

A K Peters/CRC Press

405 pages | 200 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-07-15
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Learn How to Create Immersive Virtual Environments

Written by an award-winning designer with 20 years of experience designing virtual environments for television and online communities, Virtual World Design explores the intertwining disciplines of 2D graphics, 3D models, lighting, sound, and storytelling. It illustrates how these disciplines come together by design in the creation of an accessible virtual environment for teaching, research, and entertainment. The book gives anyone the tools and techniques to design virtual environments that support their message and are accessible by all.

With 200 illustrations and 12 step-by-step projects, the book delivers hours of creative challenges for people working in public virtual worlds or on private grids. Using the modular components available for download on the author’s website, readers learn by building such things as a virtual classroom, an "all-access" terrain, and a sound-based game.

This book can be the foundation for class work in distance learning, simulation, and other learning technologies that use virtual environments. It shows both novices and advanced users how 3D composition, color, lighting, and sound design are used in the creation of an immersive virtual environment.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Virtual Worlds and Designing for Them

Welcome to the Infinite Visualization Tool, a Virtual World

A Short History of Virtual Worlds

How Do They Work?

Who Uses Virtual Worlds and How They Use Them

Virtual Environments from a Designer's Point of View

Designing in a Preexisting Virtual World or Making One Yourself

How to Use This Book and Start Doing Virtual World Design


How to Use This Book

How to Get and Upload the Content for This Book into Your Virtual World

Operating System and System Configuration for Your Computer

Who This Book Was Written For

How to Pick Your Viewer for a Virtual World

"Build It Once" Optimizing Your Design Workflow

Overview: Reducing Repetitive Building and Increasing Creative Design Time

Five Basic Steps to Set Your Standards and Practices

Lines and Arrows and Charts, Oh My!

Concepts in 3D Design for Virtual Environments

Introduction to 3D Design

Design Elements in Virtual Environments

Compositional Methodology for the Six Basic Elements in Virtual Environments

Using Similarity and Contrast in 3D Design

Designing "Flow" in Virtual Environments

Education, Serious Games, Virtual Environments

Project: Assembling a Modular Virtual Classroom

Virtual Terrain and Designing Landscapes

Terrain Is More than Just Dirt

Methodologies for Terraforming Using Inworld Tools

Methodologies for Terraforming Using Height Maps

Making Wheely Island, a Wheelchair-Accessible Virtual Park

Adding Terrain Textures to Your Landscape

Other Applications for Creating Landscapes

Designing Access for All

Making an "All-Access" Element: The Basic Sign

Planting Trees and Other Landscaping on Wheely Island

Making Your Own Trees for Landscaping

3D Modeling, 2D Graphics, and Data Visualization

Spatial Perception and How that Applies to Three-Dimensional Modeling and Virtual Environments

Picking a 3D Modeling Program and a Methodology for Building

Building with the Inworld Prims (Objects)

Meshes and How These Can Be Imported

Sculpt Maps (Sculpties) and How They Led to Mesh

Concepts in Texture Creation, 2D Graphics

Utilizing the Texture Menu in the Build Editor

Specialized Textures: Animated, Transparency, and Baked Lighting with Ambient Occlusion

Project: Designing a Data Visualization Environment: Your 3D Timeline or Résumé

Art and Data Visualization in a Virtual World

Color, Particles, and Sensory Spaces

The Impact of Color and the Power of Particles

Understanding the Basics of Light and Color

Color from a Designer's Perspective

Color, Colored Light, and Perception

Color and Design for All: Working toward an Accessible Palette

Particles and Their Uses in Design

Project: Designing a Colored Light and Particle Effect

Lighting in Virtual Environments: Second Life and OpenSim

Lighting Is Crucial

Three Main Jobs that Lighting Has to Do

Spectrums, Color, and Light

Space to Color to Light: Forming a Lighting Methodology

The Three Basic Elements Involved in Lighting a Scene: Lights, Shaders, and Baking

Environmental Menus and Shaders in Second Life and OpenSim

The Importance of Shadows

Help Your Design Look Great in All Sorts of Lighting

Project: Lighting Three Basic Scenes

Cameras and Collaborative Spaces (the Ideagora)

Overview of Cameras, Narrative, and Social Spaces for Meetings

Presenting and Collaborating on Ideas in a Virtual World

Description and Functional Aspects of Virtual Cameras in a Presentation

Designing for the Future and Mobility

Project: Building an Ideagora for Your Team

Virtual Goods and Design for Virtual Shopping Environments

Why Do People Buy Virtual Goods?

Consistent Brand Identity from Your Logo to the Architecture of Your Shop

The Physical Aspects of an Effective Inworld Store Size and Virtual Store

Setting Up Your Shop in the Online Marketplace

Using Social Media and Games to Popularize Your Content

Performance Spaces Added to Retail

Project: Designing and Building a "Pop-up" Shop

Sound Design for Virtual Spaces

Discovering Sound in Your Environment

Just a Bit of Sound Theory to Deepen Your Understanding

Basic Qualities of Sound in a Virtual World

Building Basics for a Sound Environment

How to Control Sound in a Virtual World

Where to Obtain Sound for Your 3D Spaces

How to Edit the Sound for Your Virtual Environment

Project: Making an Audio-Based Gaming Environment

Avatars and Nonplayer Characters

Avatars and Our Sense of Self

The Importance of Avatars

Designing the Look of Your Character

Animating Your Avatar

What Are Nonplayer Characters?

Types of NPCs and How They Can Be Used in Virtual Environments

Designing the Environment for the Inclusion of NPCs

Setting Up and Designing the Look of Your NPCs in Second Life

Setting Up and Designing the Look of Your NPCs on an OpenSim Region

NPCs and Their Future Development

Project: Setting Up a Basic Avatar in a Virtual Environment

Prototyping the Real World in a Virtual Environment

Prototyping and Workflow: Where and How Do Virtual Worlds Fit In?

Introduction to Worldwide Group Collaboration and Why You Should Use It

Math, Molecules, and Military Engineering

Entertainment Environments: Prototyping the Performance Space

Prototyping Games in a Virtual World

Project: Prototyping a Virtual Space and Making a 3D Print from It

Scripting Basics for the Designer

Introduction to Scripting in LSL

Design Thinking and Scripts

An Overview of How LSL Scripts Work

About the Script Text Editor

Breakdown: Finding the Parts of a Basic Script

Do It Yourself or Hire a Scripter?

How to Talk to a Scripter about LSL Scripts You Need

Scripting and Various Performance Pitfalls

Debugging and Testing and the Importance of Those Tasks

Moving on to More Complex Scripting

HUDs in Virtual Environments

What Are HUDs?

Types of HUDs

Design Considerations

Some HUD Design Ideas and How They Have an Impact on Immersion

Some Things to Remember When You Use HUDs

Tools to Make HUDs

Project: Creating a "Favorite Links" HUD

Machinima in Virtual Worlds

What Is a Machinima?

Defining Your Narrative and Presentation Style

Visual Narrative and the Camera

Tools Needed for Machinima

Machinima Policy and Your Work

Camera Tools and Phototools in Firestorm

The Future, Design, and Virtual Worlds

Some Predictions for the Future and Their Impact on Your Design Outlook

Emerging Technologies and New Design Methodologies

How the New Technologies Are Intertwining

When Do We Get the Holodeck?


References appear at the end of each chapter.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Computer Graphics
COMPUTERS / Programming / Games