Virtual Campus

September 08, 2010

Five students who took Professor Paul Hemler's COMS 480 course during the spring 2010 semester virtually took the course in a new direction.  Previous versions of the course focused on three-dimensional (3D) game development, where the students built two-dimensional (2D) and 3D games from scratch.  "This past semester the students decided to focus more on 3D modeling than interactive game development," says Professor Hemler (seated).  Modeling is an intricate and intensive component of 3D game development, so it naturally fit into the course. 

The students decided to take Professor Rob Koether's suggestion from their COMS 331 Computer Graphics course to develop a virtual fly-through of the Hampden-Sydney campus.  This was a very ambitious goal and the students made some impressive progress towards it.   Miguel Mogollon a graduating senior Computer Science (CS) major constructed a very accurate campus elevation map from some existing false contour posters.   This elevation map was used to create a virtual terrain that closely matches the reality of walking along College Road and looking down onto the football and baseball fields.  Miguel also accurately modeled the Bortz Library and made a video of virtually flying around the building.

Hemler, Butler, Haines, ParkerClay Parker (standing-right), a junior CS major, work with various particle systems to accurately model the water spout by Kirby Field House.   After modeling the water feature, Clay developed a very accurate model of Everett Stadium and Fulton Field.  Clay is a starting offensive guard for the football team, and he has spent a great deal of time on Fulton Field.  His model is complete with goal posts and score board.  Clay also worked with a free game engine to make an interactive fly-through of the stadium. 

Nathan Parr and Jacob Haines (standing-center), both junior CS majors, worked together to construct accurate models of Bagby and Venable Halls and coupled it with a fly-through  that closely resembles what they saw every day when leaving their rooms in Venable to come to class in Bagby Hall.  The Bagby model was unique in that not only was the exterior of the build was modeled, but the inside of the first floor was also included.  This allowed the virtual fly-through to not only approach Bagby Hall, but also to enter the building and proceed to the new Mathematics and Computer Science Laboratory.

George Butler (standing-left), a sophomore CS major, modeled a rather small but very common campus creature, the squirrel.  George's model was unlike the other static building models of the project because the squirrel is dynamic.  This means that George had to animate his model so that it not only looked like a squirrel, but it also acted like one.

Professor Hemler , "Is very proud of the class's accomplishments during the past semester.  The students learned a lot and most of it was on their own."  Each student found a part of the project that interested him, and he worked out all the details and solved the different issues that arose.  Not only did the students individually show a tenacity and impressive work ethic for completing their part of the project, they also worked closely together as a team.  The students will find that these two skills are a necessary part of being successful in today's technological workplace.