Implementation of an Immersive Videogame: Legends of Girona

Implementation of an Immersive Videogame: Legends of Girona

Rubén Jesús García Hernández (Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain), Antonio Rodríguez Benítez (Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain), Juan Manuel García González (Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain), Milán Magdics (Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary), Philippe Bekaert (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium) and Mateu Sbert (University of Girona, Girona, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCICG.2015010101
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Abstract

Legends of Girona is a serious game which can be used to teach local history to students in the province of Girona in Spain. The game is a graphic adventure taking place in both present-day and medieval Girona. The authors describe in this paper the design of the game, including aspects related to artificial intelligence, advanced computer graphics, exergaming, mobile platforms and immersive devices. A collection of different devices is supported, including input devices such as head trackers and output devices such as cylindrical and spherical domes, immersapods, and 3D helmets. The authors provide an overview of all the stages required for the configuration of immersive devices (calibration procedure, adaptation and rendering). They also present some directions of future work.
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1. Introduction

Historical games can be used to help students remember the most important aspects of history lessons. Some examples of these games include Time Mesh (Gouveia et al 2012), Stories from the History of Czechoslovakia (Šisler, 2012) or Past/Present (Muzzy Lane Software, 2012). We present here Legends of Girona: a serious game aimed at learning the local legends of the city of Girona in Spain (a serious game is a game whose main purpose is not pure entertainment: examples include education, training etc). The game can be used by high school students to ease retention of important happenings and dates of local history. The game is a graphics adventure which provides players with an immersive environment in the relevant period.

The game is a result of collaboration between our Computer Graphics group and the TIC Education group. The storyline and plot was designed by the Education group to maximize the learning experience while maintaining the enjoyability of the game, while the Computer Graphics side used the storyline to design and implement the game.

A second objective of the game is to provide a testbed for the integration of emergent technologies (mobile platforms, immersive environments, position and orientation trackers, gesture recognition software), designed to provide portable, easily reused libraries and resources. Our game pretends to go further than previous approaches by providing a much more advanced immersion and interaction experience, which we expect will significantly increase retention of the historical facts.

Our paper is structured as follows: the next section provides a historical background of the events described in the game, while section 2 describes the game architecture. The state diagram of the game can be seen in section 2.1; then section 2.2 describes the Artificial Intelligence algorithms programmed. Section 2.3 and 2.4 provide a description of photorealistic and non-photorealistic algorithms used in the game. Section 3 describes the use of immersive display devices and trackers (including Microsoft Kinect), and section 4 shows the adaptation of the game to run on iPhone and iPad devices. Finally, section 5 concludes the paper and section 6 provides directions of future work.

1.1. Historical Background

The game starts in present day Girona to provide a familiar setting to users, and to increase believability and identification with the main game character. After spending some time familiarizing themselves with the city (or recognizing familiar streets in the case of players living in Girona), time travel is used to lead the player to the desired date (in our case, the siege of Girona during 1285). A similar technique has been used in the Assassin's Creed series of games.

We have modeled a realistic walkthrough from the Stone Bridge in Girona to the St. Feliu Church along the Rambla and the Ballesteries streets. This provides a view of two landmark medieval structures, and their situation as extremes of a modern-day touristic, cultural and commercial street.

After the walkthrough, the player is transferred to Girona in the year 1285, during the siege of the city. The siege of Girona in 1285 was part of the Aragonese Crusade (1284-1285), in which the pope declared the crusade against the Aragonese king who had just conquered Sicily (a territory under papal control then). The French armies attacked the Roussillon, and besieged Girona in 1285, which was taken. A further battle saw the French defeat, with further losses due to a dysentery epidemic. The crusade ended in 1291 with the lift of the church ban on the Aragonese king (Strayer, 1953).

With these historical facts as a basis, the Girona legend of the flies of St. Narcis took the following form: the legend states that when the French invaders opened the St. Narcis sepulcher searching for loot, a large quantity of flies exited the sepulcher instead, covering the whole city and bringing illnesses to the French soldiers, which had to retreat in haste (Alberch-Fugueras, 2001).

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