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Project 3: Graphics Town

Ideas for next year:

  1. explain in documentation how the camera relies on matrix to make sure people can have ridable / followable objects
  2. explain that to get full credit for a skybox it must move
  3. explain what a complex animation is
  4. add orbit code for dealing with an object
  5. backface culling is not advanced
  6. sine wave flag over-rated

Update 11/30/2007: The second written assignment is cancelled!

Due Monday, December 10th, 11:59pm. Late assignments accepted according to the course late policy..

Note: Because of some University rules, all work you do (including giving a demo) is supposed to be done before exams begin. This means that project demos will be the last week of classes.

Note: for this project you may work together in teams of two. If you plan to do this, BOTH teammates must send mail to Yoh before 11:59pm on Monday, November 19th. The entire team will receive the same grade.

Quick Links: GraphicsTown example code, Technical Challenges and FAQ,Previous Student Ideas and Gallery

1.  Overview

The goal of this project is to create a city. But, since you only have a few weeks, it may be more like a town.You will create a program that allows the user to explore the town by flying around in it, or by looking at it from the vantage point of an inhabitant. Your town cannot be a dead place: there must be things moving around in it.

What is in your town, as well as what is happening there is up to you. We hope you will be creative. Make houses, trees, stores, cars, roads, helicopters, construction equipment, people, boats, ...What goes on in the town is up to you - make the cars drive around, drawbridges open and close, construction equipment operate, ...

We hesitate to tell you what to do, since students in the past have come up with some really creative things - we've seen cities with skyscrapers, space cities with flying saucers, a Harry Potter city with flying broomsticks, ... Some things that students did in previous years are shown here.

If this sounds like its arbitrarily open-ended, you have the right idea. Clearly, you could make this as fancy as you want. Obviously, we will try to set our expectations to be only somewhat unreasonable :-) Our goal is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your competence at writing 3D graphics programs, as well as an opportunity to experiment with some more advanced topics that you think are interesting.

The basic requirements are very simple. You should try to achieve them in a manner that provides flexibility so you can add fancier features as time permits. In terms of which fancier features to implement? You should pick the things that are most interesting to you. We will give you lots of ideas...

We will provide you with a Sample Solution to build on top of. You may choose not to use it, but you must provide its basic functionality (things like navigation, the ability to jump to interesting places, ...).

You will be allowed to work in pairs on this assignment, subject to some rules.

2.  Historical Note

Graphics Town has been a popular project for the graphics class for the past several years. Students have enjoyed the chance to be creative, and we (the instructor/TA) like the chance to see lots of cool stuff. The open-ended nature of the project allowed students to spend energy learning / trying out stuff in graphics that they found interesting - including stuff that we don't get to in class.

In 2005, we revised the project. Our goal is to keep the open-ended "learn what you're interested in and be creative" aspect, while being more specific about what our expectations are and making sure that the people take on enough technical challenges.

As in previous years, we provided a sample solution for people to start with. This year, we've improved it to the point where you'll probably want to use it.

3.  Objectives

The overall goal of this project is to give you an opportunity to explore topics in interactive graphics: how do you make things that look interesting, and be interactive. While some of this is artistic (you need to pick interesting objects to make and good textures/... to look nice), some of it is technical: you need to pick things that can be implemented efficiently and have interesting behavior.

If you're concerned about having to be "artistic" - just try to be different than what the provided sample is. Don't use the example houses in their regular grid. (An easy way to do this is just avoid using the "SimpleLot" and "SimpleSubdivision" classes).

In terms of your grade, effort spent on technical are more valuable. For example, it is better to spend your time making a simple "blocky" car drive around in an interesting way, or to make a simple shaped car out of parametric surfaces, or to light the car in an interesting way, then to carefully model a gorgeous model of a car. (of course, if you want to make model a gorgeous car, implement bezier patches to display its curved body, have it realistically race around a track ... - we won't complain).

Some specific things we want you to learn from this assignment (which will explain some of the requirements):

  1. To learn how to work within someone else's code - even if that code isn't perfect. (so, we'll encourage you to use my code as a starting point)
  2. To try out some of the technical topics that we've discussed in class (subdivision surfaces, culling, ...) or topics we won't discuss too much in class (particle systems, fractals, ...)
  3. To get some experience with how textures are used to make simple objects look more interesting.
  4. To get some experience with creating geometry for graphics.
  5. To gain experience working with a larger, more complex graphics application.
  6. To gain some experience creating the behavior/motion of graphics objects.
  7. To work with modeling an articulated object.

4.  Project Phases

  1. Phase 1 - (November 19th) Written Assignment and Partner Check-In. Do the written assignment. Also, if you want to work with a partner for the project, you must send email to the TA (yoh@cs) by 11:59pm on the 19th.
  2. Phase 2 - (November 26th) Project Checkpoint. Turn in a picture (a png or jpeg screen shot) of your project showing an object that you have made with a texture you have made. If you are building from the sample code, it must be clear from your picture that you've added a new object with a new texture. If you are starting from scratch, you should be far enough along that your project can show an object with a texture.
  3. Phase 3 - (December 3rd) Written Assignment. CANCELLED
  4. Phase 4 - Final Project turn in (Due December 10th). Project demos will be held later that week

5.  The Basic Requirements

5.1  Components

Your town must have:

  1. Multiple objects moving at any time (besides the ones that I made)
  2. Multiple different types of behaviors (besides the ones that I made)
  3. Multiple different types of buildings / scenery (besides the ones that I made)
  4. Multile new textures. Some must be hand painted. Some must not be flat (that is, it must wrap onto multiple polygons)
  5. You must attempt "enough" technical challenges (see the technical challenges page).
  6. You must have an articulated object (that moves its articulation) per person.
  7. You program must work at a sufficient frame rate (which isn't hard since the B240 computers are so fast).
  8. You must add something that is effected by the time of day.
  9. You must use at least one type of "advanced" texture mapping: multi-texturing, projective (slide projector) texturing, environment mapping, bump mapping, or shadow mapping. (if you want to pick something not on this list, you may want to check with us to make sure it counts)

5.2  Evaluating aspects

There are three aspects of this project, all will be considered in evaluating your project:

  1. Technical challenge (how much hard graphics technique did you use). See the technical challenges page.
  2. Visual Complexity of your world (how cool/interesting does it look - sometimes a few really interesting things can be as good as a lot of simpler things). Again, the first criteria is that it is different than the sample solution. You should avoid using same regular grid of houses from the example.
  3. Behavioral Complexity of your world (how interesting are the things that happen in it).

This is the order of importance. While having some degree of success in all categories is important, sometimes excellence in one category can outweigh deficiencies in another.

Some students are concerned that we don't give more clear grading criteria, however, it is hard for this project. To help with this, we will schedule some "open lab" hours before the project is due so you can s describe your ideas and how us your preliminary results and we can give you some idea as to whether you are attempting to do enough to get the grade you want.

6.  The Sample Solution

We recommend that you start with the Sample Solution. You don't have to use it, but you should at least look at it. If you choose not to use it, be sure to have the required features.

7.  Working Together

For this assignment, we allow you to work with a partner. However, there are some rules for doing this:

  1. Each person on a team gets the same grade for the project. We appreciate honesty in saying who did the work, but if you are lucky enough to find a partner who does everything for you, well, ultimately you will lose out because you won't learn as much.
  2. Before the checkpoint (November 19th), you must send the TA email saying who you will be working with.
  3. After the checkpoint, you may not break up your group.
  4. All team members must be present at the grading demo.
  5. Each person must make at least 1 of the new buildings/scenery, 1 of the behaviors, 1 of the articulated objects, 1 thing effected by the time of day, and paint one of the textures.

While the expectations are higher for groups than for individuals, they are not that much higher.

8.  What to hand in?

As usual, you must hand in everything needed to build and run your program, including all texture files and other resources.

If you work with a partner, please put a single file in your handing directory - a README.txt that says where to look.

In your readme, please make sure to have the following (you can break it into seperate files if you prefer):

  • Instructions on how to use your program (in case we want to use it when you're not around)
  • A list of the objects you modeled (if you made lots of different objects, just list the 5-10 most interesting ones). Please order the list so the most complicated/impressive one is first.
  • A list of the behaviors you made. Please order the list so the most complicated/impressive one is first.
  • A list of the technical challenges that you attempted / completed, with a description of what you did and what you used it for.
  • If you used the sample, code, a file that describes any changes you made to the "core" of the system (e.g. other than changing main.cpp and adding new Objects and Behaviors).
  • If you did not use the example code, an explanation of why you chose not to, and a discussion of your program's features.

You should make a subdirectory of the project directory called "Gallery." In this directory, please put a few JPG pictures of the best scenes in your town. Please name the pictures login-X.jpg (where X is a number). Put a text file in the directory with captions for the pictures. (note: to make pictures, use the screen print and then use some program to convert them to JPG).

9.  Other Resources

If you want to use advanced GL Features (like MultiTextures), you should use an Extension Manager. Be sure to include it in your handin. Some advice on extensions (and sample code for multi-texturing) can be found here.

Many students in past years have either written loaders for various model formats, or found model file readers on the web. You are welcome to do either. However, be sure to give proper attribution if you appropriate code or models. Also, be sure to include all of the models in the handin.

If you do use a model reader, remember that you must make some of the objects yourself.

10.  Grading

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to give a grading procedure ahead of time. Every project is so different.

The main thing is we'll look at the demos to see how cool/complex your world is and how well your technical components work.

Some students are concerned that we don't give more clear grading criteria, however, it is hard for this project. To help with this, we will schedule some "open lab" hours before the project is due so you can s describe your ideas and how us your preliminary results and we can give you some idea as to whether you are attempting to do enough to get the grade you want.

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Page last modified on December 18, 2007, at 04:38 PM