Desktop VR pitches: Disk City + Crane Simulator

These are two project ideas I’ve had on the backburner for some time that I’d like to experiment with in the desktop VR space when I get the chance; I believe these could work both for a seated experience like DK2 as well as for a room-scale experience like Vive, with appropriate interface adaptations.

The first, Disk City, is based on extending 2D tools designed for filesystem visualization like SequoiaView to the 3D space. We procedurally generate vast 3-dimensional hierarchy visualizations that are intended to resemble the hierarchical structures occurring in real cities, like districts/boroughs, blocks, buildings, floors, rooms, and aisles. The scale of these structures map onto filesize. By exploiting these familiar metaphors, we can allow people to develop a visceral sense for the contents of their filesystem and identify unexpectedly large items to save space; the demo also serves as a prototype for hierarchical visualization in VR that can be applied to other domains such as organizational visualization and software visualization.

The second, Crane Simulator, is intended to authentically simulate the day-to-day job of a crane operator (starting out with a tower crane, but perhaps eventually also including mobile cranes, harbor cranes, and so on). Cranes are critical and highly visible machines used in the construction of tall structures, and involve two main roles, the operator who sits in the cab at the top, and the rigger who directs them from the ground using a standardized system of hand/arm signals.


A seated VR system could effective replicate the operator experience, providing an authentic set of controls and a high-level overview of the project under construction, while a system like Vive with standing, walking, and powerful hand-tracking could be used to better simulate the rigger’s experience on the ground. The simulator could be played cooperatively by two players, or could have one player move between roles and have the other played by an AI. By working on a variety of structures, the simulator could present various interesting problem solving scenarios. In addition to appealing to gamers interested in problem solving and the construction experience, the simulator could (with careful authentic design) be used for actual vocational training.


One thought on “Desktop VR pitches: Disk City + Crane Simulator

  1. Your DiskCity concept reminds me a bit of Micheal Douglas’s file hunting experience in Disclosure:

    Your Crane operator concept is pretty cool, “day in the life of” experience. We were jamming here on Social-emotional learning (SEL) simulation concepts and came up with a narrative based game where the player is a nursing home resident or someone with a physical disability and is confronted with some sort of othering or role-taking” challenge. Putting together a Unity team!


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