FIRST CONTACT: AN EXERCISE IN UNDERSTANDING


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In a head-mounted display, you find yourself on a rock ledge above a distant plain, under a green and yellow sky - on another world. Strange lightning flashes in the distance. In front of you lie two five-limbed creatures crackling with electrical energy. If you examine one closely for more than a few seconds, the unobserved creature begins to move, to reach its five limbs toward you - like an alien game of "Redlight-Greenlight." When one of the two creatures finally catches you in its limbs, you hear a voice welcoming you to the planet. As the top of the creature's body opens and blooms, the secret structures within are revealed.

At this point, the world switches to animation, and you are overwhelmed by direct beams from this very intelligent creature's brain. Light, sound, color, memories play all around you, welcoming you into the creature's society - its space. You can see the creature's inner world at work as it "talks" to you. The animation consists of various scenes of its culture and past. What seemed at first to be a terrifying nightmare becomes communication between two worlds.

Significance

As we can observe in the extreme popularity of captivating games like DOOM, or commercial virtual reality arcade applications, aliens are usually for killing. The different, the unusual, the inhuman, is to be feared, evaded, and slain. "If it moves, kill it!" is the lesson of games such as DOOM, an inappropriate philosophy in our increasingly interconnected world. Through interactive technologies, this project illustrates that all is not as it first appears, and sometimes a stranger is a friend.


Amatul H. Hannan
ToolBox Productions
77 Creeley Road
Belmont, Massachusetts 02178 USA
+1.617.489.0197
ahannan@alumni.cs.umb.edu

Ronald R. Mourant
Professor and Director
Virtual Environments Laboratory
330 Snell Engineering Center
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA
+1.617.373.3931
+1.617.373.2501 fax
mourant@meceng.coe.neu.edu


Collaborators

Programmers

Oren H. Levine
Northeastern University

Eric Pierce
Dynamic Automated Systems

Chris Sepulveda
Harvard University

3D Modeling - World Modelers

Dennis Lee
Verideth Keller
ATECH Inc

Animation

Geoff Kornfeld
Yoyodine

Creature Models

Gerard Fanning
ARTOFFICIAL

Consultation

Ann Powers
Eben Gay
Brenden Maher
BCSVRG


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