Category Archives: Building Virtual Worlds

Plunger Madness


Admittedly one of the most sophomoric worlds (I was a sophomore, after all) in BVW history, we created a 3D version of whack-a-mole, but with a ring of filthy toilets, and no moles. Very silly, and lots of fun, there were consistently lines of people in the computer lab who wanted to help us “test” it.

The extra little joke (that was was appreciated by most) was that we “borrowed” some models from other worlds, so the other students got the surprise of seeing some of their creations whacked with a plunger…and yes, that is Randy’s face, as well as the faces of our group, popping out in the end.



Not Another Breakout Game!

by Zach Beard, Sterling Ely, Jenica Rangos & Alok Menghrajani

What this BVW world lacked in narrative, it made up for in sheer fun. (Ok, it was a bit glitchy, but BVW project isn’t?) The premise? Take a typical breakout/arkanoid/bricks style game, and make it not only 3D, but fully immersive. The player wears a headmount and holds a shield-like paddle with which they must hit a ball down corridors in all directions to break bricks. I’ve always wanted to play breakout like this, so it was pretty satisfying to build it so I could finally try it out.


3 - breakout paddles

In addition to painting the textures, such as on these virtual paddles, I built the real-life controllers for the game. Basically it was just a frisbee with a handle, a spot to mount a motion tracker, and a button to release the ball while using the grabby paddle.

An Evening Snack


by Adrian Perez, Sterling Ely, Amanda Kraemer & Ryan Freytag


Timorous Timmy is afraid there’s a monster under his bed…


Of course, he’s right. The monster listens in from his lair underneath the bed to try & figure out what he needs to troll out near the edge so that he might catch himself a tasty treat…

monster 3

I was the modeler for this project, but couldn’t resist giving Mr. Monster a cursory paint job before passing him off to Amanda.

monster sketch

Some original character idea sketches

The Duel

Ning Hu, Sterling Ely, & Eddie Canaan


Eddie Canaan and myself performing our group’s final world for BVW 2001: The Duel. This world allowed players to use a gesture system to cast spells at eachother. It was originally intended to be two players, but that didn’t pan out. (3 week project, after all) Thus there I am without a headmount uttering those ridiculous lines. Please excuse the cheese.


For this project, I was the modeler, meaning I created all the 3D objects, Eddie was the painter, and Ning was the programmer.

A keyframed animation for the evil wizard casting a fireball


Monkey Madness!!

The Quest for the Holy Grail

by Justin Hsu, Sterling Ely, Ted Hung, & Jen Smith

Me (inset) performing our final world for BVW 2002: The Quest for the Holy Grail. Just as Monty Python and the Holy Grail goofed on cinema, we goofed on the technology, all while reliving some favorite scenes from the movie in first person. This one was a blast, and as you can see, the audience loved it.


For this project, I was the painter, meaning I created all the textures for the characters and scenes, Justin was the modeler, and Jen & Ted were the programmers.


Textured King Arthur & Black Knight models


Briefly portraying Tim the Enchanter for a few first-person explosion gags…


Fighting the Black Knight. (I won)


About Building Virtual Worlds

Building Virtual Worlds is the class at Carnegie Mellon started by the late great Randy Pausch that brings people from all majors together to create immersive virtual reality worlds.
Students are either modelers, painters, scripters, or “intangibles” and are arranged in groups of 4 for 2 weeks during which they create their 3D worlds. They are then regrouped to do it again 4 more times during the semester.

I’ve taken this class twice because, despite the gargantuan workload, it is an incredibly fun class, and a great experience working with others to create great things. In 2001, I was a modeler, meaning I created all the 3D objects that make up the virtual worlds, and in 2002, I was a painter, which means I created all the colors and textures that bring detail to those objects. I also did some animation, and created most of the start screens for the worlds I worked on.