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Water Canal Slipway VR Simulator

by Jul 8, 2020

Client – European Meeting Center “Światowid” in Elbląg

Dependent on the Marshal’s Office in Olsztyn, the “Światowid” Center handles animation of social life, undertaking cultural, informational, and educational activities. For 10 years, thanks to the work of the Regional Digitization Laboratory, “Światowid” has also been fulfilling the task of protecting the cultural heritage of the region.

The goal of this institution is to promote the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship – a place of extraordinary historical, cultural, recreational, and tourism-related qualities, able to compete against many other beloved European regions.

History

Once vital for many different parts of Poland, to this day, inland shipping has left behind a fair number of well-preserved technical artifacts, including the original five slipways of Elbląg Canal.

Ramps are an alternative to chamber locks, built of a set of hydro-technical and mechanical devices. Their task is to move vessels on special platforms located between the upper and lower water stand.

Each one of these nineteenth-century engines is a very complex mechanism, brought to this voivodeship by a builder, Georg Jacob Steenke. The Prussian engineer used an alternative idea of carrying ships between different parts of the canal, which he saw during his European and transatlantic travels.

The first slipways of the Elbląg Canal were built in Kąty, Oleśnica and Jelenie. The works were completed in 1859. Just a year later the same mechanism was already used in Buczyniec. The last slipway was built in the Całuny. These five transition points, located through a distance of over 9 km, significantly facilitated local inland transport, allowing for efficient overcoming the level difference between Buczyniec and Lake Drużno, which is over 99.5 meters.

As a whole complex, these places are one of the most beloved monuments of the region. With that in mind and in the matter of Warmia and Mazury’s cultural marketing plus the “Światowid” Center’s educational mission, we took on a process of creating an exact water slipway controlling simulator.

Solution

Basing on the point cloud prepared by the client, our graphic team precisely recreated the real-life station using 3D rendering techniques. Then, together with qualified engineers and the “Nevicula” Society of Elbląg Canal Fans, also based on “Światowid” Center’s concept suggestions, we’ve managed to develop consistent VR-application. It allows users not only to walk around the actual slipway, signaller station, and pilothouse but, most importantly, to try to control the whole shipping process.

Every user’s task in the central part of the game, which is the engine house level, is to safely lead two ships through the slipway, using a direction lever, brake lever, and a valve – a real set of controls. By using them the right way, the user can fulfill a given quest.

In our simulator, we included a choice of difficulty level – between “simplified” that contains tips and instructions, and “advanced,” dedicated to the players familiar with the basic rules needed for accurately steering the whole process.

Results

Merging all of the requirements presented by the consulted experts along with Giant Lazer’s audio-visual team’s work, we have succeeded in creating accessible, yet complete experience of operating the shipping slipway and exploring the original, technical area of it.

It’s our pleasure to see that the simulator became an important component of the “Światowid” European Meeting Center’s space. Thanks to the additional language choosing option, the software serves as a part of the international marketing actions of a local institution.