Virtual World Design  book cover
1st Edition

Virtual World Design

ISBN 9781466579613
Published July 15, 2014 by A K Peters/CRC Press
405 Pages 200 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

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