“Architecture, meet Video Game Design.  VGD, meet Architecture!”

Imagine investors from all over the world being able to simultaneously walk through a rendering of their new shopping mall before deciding on the final design.  Or, instead of just doing a flythrough of a multimillion dollar house design, why not let them “play” it?  The possibilities are endless. From 2002 to 2007 I taught Design Technology at the Design And Technology Academy in San Antonio.  I taught graphic design, 3d animation and video game design alongside architects and engineers.  Always looking for ways to “cross curriculate” as I called it, I designed a project where the VGD students would attempt to import and “play” their lesson designs from architecture class.  I say attempt because it was not easy.  Fortunately they used Google’s SketchUp, which played fairly with the 3D Studio Max software I used in my lab.  It was trick getting the 3ds model from SketchUp to 3DS Max, carefully texturing, then exporting an ASCII scene file then importing it as a Static Mesh into the game engine.  If you missed one step out of dozens it would fail, and you’d have to repeat the process over and over. But that was the old days!  The technology necessary to pull this off has gotten a lot more stable.  If the design pipeline is set up correctly, it’s a no brainer to transfer architecture models to a video game engine and publish it to the web, and with a little extra work, also deploy it across all mobile devices as a game app.  I can imagine a team of designers at their workstations, all on a conference call with managers and investors from all over the world, simultaneously walking through a design, giving and receiving feedback. My primary focus now is selling signs, but I haven’t lost my drive to push the limits of technology, and to look for new ways to engage the customer, and attempt to create a deeper emotional connection to the product.  I recently put this to the test by creating an interactive virtual gallery of signs.  I just started using this particular game engine, so the level is very simple.  In the coming weeks, however, I will add triggered events that move platforms, in-game controls, audio messages that play based on proximity to different signs, water, wind, weather and more!   And what’s further down the road, you ask?  To make a virtual sign shop where customers can get in on the creativity and make their own signs. Like I said, the possibilities are endless! You can view our virtual gallery by going here: http://www.customsignsokc.com/virtual-gallery/. Enjoy! Kalen Lake Owner/Creative Director, Electremedia LLC

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