01 Mar 2020 Hosi Stankovic

Reimagining Reality with ORIGAMI®

What if you could make a virtual replica of the real world, and give it the ability to sense, interact with and then automate the real world?

Introducing our "Origami" development framework.

In 2017 Adam and I posed ourselves a provocative question: "What if we could make a virtual replica of the real world and give it the ability to sense, interact with and then automate the real world?"

And then we pushed the envelope a little further: "What if this could be done from anywhere, on any device and in real time!"

We’d both had exposure to the sophistication of the Unity Game Engine. For me this had come a decade earlier when a virtual world company I was involved with explored licensing a nascent game engine from David Helgason and his small startup Unity.

Fast forward to 2017: Unity was the most used game engine on the planet and Adam had created the leading tools on the Unity Asset Store for terrain creation. Customers were calling his first product, Gaia, a game changer.

And it was in this vein of game changing that Adam and I began exploring the answer to our provocative question: we knew that we wanted to use Unity’s game engine as the front end for our answer as it allowed us to write once and deploy everywhere; we also knew that whatever we built had to be architected for scale; and so we began building a platform that would enable us to create a virtual replica of the real world.

What crystalised has blown us away: an operating system and platform technology that is both simple in its structure and yet subject to emergent complexity;  an emergent system that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Introducing Origami

We call this platform Origami because, like its Japanese paper-folding namesake, we essentially start with a simple flat piece of (digital) paper and, by following an increasingly complex set of instructions and executing a pattern of folds, a beautiful and ornate object emerges.

The patterns followed in paper folding can cause an almost infinite number of objects to emerge. Similarly in Origami, we create an infinite number of outcomes through the rules we program into the system: instead of paper, Origami uses digital content and composable logic blocks to procedurally generate outcomes.

Content creation is just the beginning of the journey, and the same procedural tools we use to create our environments also brings them to life as the game or simulation runs. Our systems deliver not only emergent content, but also emergent behavior over time – truly smart systems!

Real World Example

Let me explain what I mean by giving you a real life example.

In 2018 we were very excited to get the opportunity to collaborate with the Google Maps API team to re-imagine reality: this was based on the real world metadata supplied by the Google Maps for Unity API, which was launched at GDC in San Francisco today with the talk: The Real World As Your Playground: Building Games with Google Maps.

Using the power of Origami, together with Google Maps API for Unity and Unity’s Game Engine, Adam was able to build three real world game environments in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

In the video’s shown here in the launch you can see fly through’s of the environments we created::

* Dark City – An adrenaline filled flight through a city at night* Low Poly – A relaxed wander around a lovely low poly city
* Open World – A brief look at a beautiful open world environment

Origami is a powerful content generation platform that creates contextually relevant content at scale. Our platform can be leveraged by existing game formats as well as real world location based games. Origami is getting close to release and we are betting big as we believe that Origami has the the potential to change the way that games are made.

Origami folds neatly into the space between the Google Maps API for Unity and creating compelling game worlds: while it is fantastic to have the power of Google Maps with its 3D map data opened up, and this is made even more powerful when interfaced with the sophistication of the Unity Game Engine, there is a huge distance to cover between connecting the API to an empty Unity scene and creating compelling game worlds.

Origami harnesses the power of Maps and Unity to create interesting and rich game worlds through a mix of procedural content generation systems and bespoke content creation: this allows for rapid iteration and the creation of unique content at world scale.

I know I speak for Adam as well as myself when I say that we are both very excited by the possibilities that exist around Origami. We’ve come a long way in answering our provocative question, but still have a ways to go before we achieve our broader vision for Origami of bringing the real world into Unity so we can simulate it, automate it and, ultimately, empower people to make sense of the real world and manage their lives.