Interplay Learning strives to make software that’s capable of educating professionals in various fields ranging from hair stylists to electrical engineers. To meet this goal, Interplay Learning needed to be capable of creating simulations swiftly, while still meeting the customer’s individual needs. Using an in-house suite of tools, which they referred to as the Unified Framework, they have been immensely successful in providing a powerful resource to a great number of industries. When I was hired on at Interplay Learning, this suite of tools did not yet exist. As a result, one of my initial major responsibilities was to learn the existing workflow and note what tools needed to be included in the upcoming Unified Framework. During my first few months with the company, I created simulations for Solar City and Tesla, which gave me the experience needed to assist in architecting and creating tools that would be used in all future simulations.
Interplay Learning sought to provide educational software that was both powerful and accessible, depending on the customer’s needs. As such, simulations were designed to accommodate both WebGL and VR, which meant that the Unified Framework needed to be capable of delivering on this need. While at Interplay Learning, I assisted in creating systems to enable Level Designers to create simulations with low load times and tools to make the process of engaging with these systems as simple as possible. To do this, we needed to drastically reduce download sizes. We decided it was best to only have users download assets on an as-needed basis. As such, we implemented JSON scene saving, allowing each Unity scene to be converted to JSON, which was then uploaded to Interplay Learning’s remote server, allowing us to maintain versioning over individual scenes without needing to add them to the application’s repository. A major side-effect of this type of scene loading is the inability for Level Designers to use Unity’s prefabs. Therefore, it was imperative for us to design a JSON prefab that integrated with JSON scenes.
While the simulations were lightweight on the palyers’ bandwidth, it was imperative that they be robust and feature rich to fulfill the teaching needs for the respective industry. I helped create a variety of template actions that Level Designers could use to convey the lesson to the player, including: on-interact neonates, interactive procedural meshes, bounded object placement, distance measurement, and voltage reading. I was also responsible for ensuring that these template actions, as well as numerous other tools made for Level Designers, had a user friendly UI to assist with the creation and manipulation of any given object in a scene.