Unity Particle Play

This week in Sensory-driven Storytelling we are applying and exploring what we’ve learned in Unity. The assignment is to submit an experiment that uses traditional input (mouse, key) to affect the narrative of your scene using any of the techniques or items learned. Consider how this input might be mapped in the future.

I decided to play with particle systems. Last semester I worked on a project called Beats Exposed, where we used an aerial performer’s heartbeat to dictate the pulse of projections and audio. We built the projections using P5.js. I thought it would be interesting to experiment with creating similar graphics in Unity.

The plan was to create a particle system, then use the spacebar to trigger a burst in the particle system. I could imagine using a load cell at the top of the aerial rig to trigger this, so that every time the aerialist drops with a high amount of pressure, a burst occurs.

I thought that it would be relatively simple to setup the triggering, and that I would have a lot of time to play with the particles. This ended up being a massive challenge in the end. I spent hours trying to get the particles to burst in response to input. After about four hours, I decided to sign up for office hours. We still had trouble figuring the burst out in office hours, but luckily Laura was able to figure it out after I left.

Here are two bits of code. The first “MyBurst” shows some of my attempts. The second, “ParticleController” shows what Laura worked out.

After all the fuss with the script, I didn’t have so much time to play with the particles, but here are two examples of particles systems I built bursting with the spacebar. The first one reacts much better than the second. I couldn’t really figure out why.

The project is on Github here:

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