Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Advisor

Deaton, Russell J.

Reader

Thompson, Craig W.

Second Reader

Fredrick, David

Abstract

The aim of the Virtual Campus project is to develop a way to automate building 3D virtual worlds using map and other data from the real world. A demonstration presented in this BS honors thesis uses automated tools to build the University of Arkansas campus from data supplied by the UA Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST). At present, in virtual worlds like Second Life and Unity, terraforming of terrain is a manual process, and it can take days to weeks to build a landscape. But by using existing map data, we are now able to automate that process. Working with my Andrew Tackett and Jonathan Holt in our senior design project, we created a script (program) which will take height map data in .raw format and texture data in photographic format and which uses this data, along with functions built into the Unity API, to create a terrain with the proper heights and textures. A second script that I developed for this thesis allows a user to identify certain colored regions as buildings. The script then populates the regions defined as buildings with “sugar cube” buildings (white blocks), which the user can keep, remove, or replace at their discretion. The end result is a 3D landscape that avatars can visit. The design enables users to further populate the virtual campus by replacing the “sugar cube” buildings with their own more detailed 3D building models, created using outside programs. Using such an environment, students can go to a virtual class or meet together at a virtual union. At present, many virtual campuses exist in Second Life, but none that we know of accurately reflect the geography of their campus.

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