Rock Paper Reality Creates Unique AR Experience with San Diego Padres

Wednesday 11/16/22 08:32am
Posted By Brian Vogelsang
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Play Ball!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visually experience what it’s like standing in the batter’s box at a Major League Baseball stadium?

This is exactly what the team at Rock Paper Reality (RPR) had been thinking about. Inspired by this idea, their industry-leading augmented reality (AR) developers created an interactive game that would allow visitors at the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame to play a shooting-gallery style pitching match. The game, created in Unity, features a 1:1 model of Petco Park along with past and present Hall of Fame players as interactable targets in situ (on-site).

The creative inspiration for this vision came from a previous project, a rapid-fire AR basketball game that has similar mechanics. With this previous experience in mind, the concept seemed a natural fit for the fast-paced area of the Hall of Fame space where users can jump in and play with minimal instruction, and then start racking up wins!

The project was deployed by RPR on location at Petco Park, and utilized an environment the team had significant input in from a creative perspective. This really helped speed up the development and design process, and allowed the developers to create an immersive shared space. Utilizing the advantages of AR, the team put together an experience that can support up to four players simultaneously.

The Development Begins

Tapping into the key benefits of AR helps to create a truly robust experience. To do this, the team at Rock Paper Reality turned to our Snapdragon Spaces Developer Platform. The key approach was to focus on the user experience. I.e., to test the spatial understanding of the inputs and the environment to make the game as engaging as possible to a wide array of possible users.

In the early stages of development, the RPR team focused on getting up to speed on using our new Snapdragon Spaces release and understanding how to best utilize the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 AR glasses. RPR enjoyed the fun challenge of working with the Snapdragon Spaces toolkit in its early stages because it allowed the developers to not only see the possibilities of the SDK, but also work with the Snapdragon Spaces team to help grow the platform for future implementations.

One challenge the team faced was localizing the multiplayer feature on four headsets. RPR had tackled this issue in the past and were excited about the challenge of working around a typical issue in multi-use AR. They were able to use the Image Tracking feature in Snapdragon Spaces to come up with a localization technique that let the users sit in a world position environment with a high level of precision. By locally casting the multiplayer game to side TV’s with an IP camera set up from above the set-up, RPR turned the original experience limited to four players into a true spectator event. It truly helped mimic the energy and excitement of having fans watch an actual baseball game!

Over a ten-week period, one of the major milestones was determining the Padres retrospective look-and-feel by incorporating key elements of Petco Park and the history in the Hall of Fame. There was also the process of creating the story and game flow such that users of all ages could enjoy. And of course, integrating Snapdragon Spaces SDK in conjunction with the implementation on the Lenovo A3 platform to provide a fully immersive experience.

The Development Process

Looking back at the development process, RPR learned a few key lessons and considerations for any future development. If other developers are interested in developing for augmented reality, it’s important to have a firm understanding of how AR Foundation works. Another important tip – when in doubt, simplify things for the user. After UX testing, RPR found it necessary to cut down on interaction points to ensure players could get to the game and the action as soon as possible. Making this small adjustment turned out to be one of the most successful improvements in the UX. It’s also really important to test your 3D objects in AR often, and make sure you account for additive displays for the content. Along those lines, make sure your scale is perfect, and understand when you need to adjust it for any whimsical elements.

RPR also noted there were some initial questions on how the Snapdragon Spaces SDK would work and help achieve their project goals, but ultimately were very impressed with how easy it was to set up multiple devices. They also appreciated how impressive the SDK communication layer was in its functionality.

During the project planning process, the RPR team realized their ambitions of creating that ‘wow’ factor they so desired would require a large amount of content, which raised questions on whether that could cause lag or create bottlenecks in processing. They were very excited when they realized just how much content they were able to pack into the experience. Larger sized assets and models typically require huge amounts of processing, but even with the incredible details the RPR team put into their experience, the performance remained consistently strong. Finally, and arguably the biggest surprise the team encountered was around drift. Utilizing the Snapdragon Spaces SDK allowed them to generate virtually no drift, and the drift-to-relocalization feature delivered a smooth experience.

RPR also cited a great collaborative effort while working with the Snapdragon Spaces team. As developers can appreciate, sometimes one small toggle can be the difference between a project building and not building. At each step in the journey the two teams worked together to implement the SDK, while also learning about key roadmap updates that helped RPR best plan for future SDK upgrades. It helped to understand how the upgrade can deliver a positive impact to the project, and ultimately bring potential new value.

What Comes Next

When Rock Paper Reality looks to the future, their goals are aligned with ours – to bring Snapdragon Spaces Development Platform and Lenovo AR glasses to more headworn experiences at event installations. With the experience of the RPR development team being alumni of the Osterhout Design Group, they are heavily steeped in the world of headworn AR and VR experiences.

The big question is finding the right client and the right venue to match with a specific AR project. The San Diego Padres were a great fit for this concept, and even at the start of this project it became clear there were a broad range of possibilities with the quick-hit style arcade gallery game for other sports. RPR thinks arenas such as tennis and association football provide a great opportunity and are excited to see what other opportunities such as these may emerge.

RPR has some exciting thoughts and visions for the future of AR including multi-user and collaborative AR gaming. The evolution of these use-cases has a great potential to evolve and help bring people together in a way we’ve not seen before. Creating a 3D environment where multiple people can interact, communicate, and play can be almost magical, and is an area that really excites the team at RPR.

In closing, our friends at RPR want to remind other developers that may be new to AR and/or Snapdragon Spaces that you don’t have to be intimidated by tools that already exist today. Even if you don’t have a headset or VR platform, getting into phone-based AR and learning the unique challenges of enhancing user experiences across XR is incredibly valuable and important for future development. Those are the key steps to help you create strong immersive experiences.

If anything, this experience has shown us and the team at Rock Paper Reality that there is still a ton of time to be a trendsetter in the AR space. Nothing is absolute in this moment, and RPR is confident that when it comes to AR, the best is yet to come.

Additional Resources

If you’re new to developing for AR, we have some great resources for you to review and get up-to-speed.

There is also a lot of great information in our Snapdragon Spaces Quick Start Guide on our developer portal.

Snapdragon Spaces is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.