For the past 2 months I have been working on a production Virtual Reality project for William Hill with Unit 9. I have been working to build a virtual horse racing track, Kempton Park, as well as designing a physical installation for the experience to be showcased at Digital Shoreditch.
Get In The Race recreates live horse races, as they are happening, in virtual reality. The product pulls in real time data about the horse’s position, stride length and heart rate so that users can see a real race, in real time from their chosen jockey’s point of view. We built an inch-perfect virtual Kempton Park racecourse populated by horses and jockeys in true-to-life colours. Rendered in a stylised, low-poly look and feel for Cardboard VR. The GPS data stream records the position of each horse at every second to 1m accuracy. However in a live race every inch counts, so we developed algorithms that average multiple data points simultaneously to predict the live position of each horse.
We made a decision early in the discovery period of the design to use a lo-poly aesthetic as we knew the final product needed to be suitable for Google Cardboard, meaning we needed the final app to be light on power. So the physical installation used the lo-poly design of the horse, which we then had fabricated out of CNC milled foam and covered in fibreglass. We also created a bespoke ‘Jockey’s’ helmet to house the more powerful Oculus Rift. After the installation at Digital Shoreditch, the horse and helmet have been moved to their permanent home at William Hill Labs.
For more information and to see our Case Study video…check it out here: http://www.unit9.com/project/william-hill-get-in-the-race
The final game consisted of an inch perfect virtual replica of Kempton Racecourse. We took some small creative licence decisions to make sure that the environment worked in a 360 virtual reality set up, but it was mostly modelled to be as accurate as possible, especially the racetrack. This was important as the live data from a real horse race would be streamed into the app, meaning that the route the horses took needed to match the environment. Below are some stills taken from the final game.
The development of the visual aesthetic of the environment was a fun but iterative process as we worked through the best way of developing the Lo-Poly effect that we were looking to achieve. It was important that we kept the textures and models as simple as possible to enable the app to run without any lag. Below are some WIP images of how the environment progressed.