Wheel of Fortune in TEDx Pura Vida
Around December 2009, Mr. Roberto Sasso, President of the Technology Research Club, asked the Technology Department of the Veritas University, a wheel of fortune in its most essential form, a task that Gustavo Flores, director of said department, he entrusted me to develop.
With many flaws and being a first-time product, a first version was developed in Adobe Flash CS4 with an implementation of lists of participants in flat XML files.
It was a very boring product because it was programmed in a very technical and correct way, it fulfilled its objective of being compact and fast. There was a coordination in the production on the order of the prizes and the record of winners was kept by hand, it was a very primitive product.
That year no one asked us for a copy of the product. Even worse, there is no trace on my computer of any kind of source file, photo, email or application, I guess I wish it was forgotten.
We learned a lot from the raffle and decided to improve the product due to Mr. Sasso’s new request. Part of improving what was done the year before was to stop and conceptualize the project.
Roberto Sasso gave the strangest request that I had to attend to in this second opportunity to show the software, which would insert emotions into the viewer. Designs came up that worked with the concepts of “expectation”, “tension” and “anxiety”.
Using Alfred Hithcock as reference, I opted for a design based on “suspense”, in which the public could anticipate the winner at the end of time by injecting tension, this type of design could only be solved by animations designed before.
We are faced with the first big change: “The software is now animated and will no longer be calculated with rotation values on the X axis simulating an asymptote with limit to zero”.
Solving a winner takes fractions of a second to the computer, by making this animated wheel of fortune, after 45 seconds we reveal the result to the public, in this way we can simulate an unbalanced wheel of fortune (an imperfect one) and achieve a credible (but false) physical effect on the wheel, thereby achieving the proposed emotions.
In that year, it was proposed to make multiple raffles, first for those present in the national auditorium and another for those who registered as viewers through the website of La Nación, a very important printed newspaper in Costa Rica.
The change in the technology used was necessary because the software in Adobe Flash was not capable of handling up to 8,000 records that we planned to receive, it was a product to be used with 600 names originally.
On the other hand, if we continue to manage lists of participants in flat XML files for their ease of editing in Microsoft Excel.
We switched to Unity 3D video game engine, in October 2009 they had released their application for low-scale commercial uses. It was programmed in C Sharp, several Microsoft .Net Framework libraries and lists in flat XML files.
The multimedia presentation was very successful, in the subsequent 5 years it was widely donated to whoever asked for it, what happened during all this time was a process of improvements, maintenance and other collaborations to make a better product.
Just 2 months before the event, it was indicated that it was time to renew the multimedia presentation, it was not a surprise and yet he had not been budgeted for time given the busy daily work schedule.
The mechanics of the raffle were changed to help the production, making it unnecessary for the presenter not to have to memorize the prizes or the order of the prizes.
The Social Protection Board inspired the new format of drawing, first there is a drawing for the selection of an award and another drawing for the selection of the winner of said award.
On the side of the participants, things remained the same, the organization provides us with the list of people who will be part of the event with information on tickets sold by third-party companies.
At times I used Blender to model the 3D elements in the scene, but almost everything else was solved from Unity 3D 5.2.
Another very important aspect was to keep, in the computer’s memory, the association of which prizes had been assigned to participants, this demanded the use of a database for the project.
SQLite was implemented as an internal database, which allowed something that we did not have before: the same application keeps track of the prizes awarded in a reporting node, but this extra was not widely used in the event by the production.
The process of building this new application was not easy, and it never is, it took several weeks of programming and testing simultaneously because we did not have any time to do formal quality assurance.
The software successfully performed 6 times in front of more than 4,000 people at the Coca Cola Amphitheater in Parque Viva. The new stage has a giant and spectacular LED screen and added to the expert soundman of the production, it was seen and heard excellent.
We hope that this new version will accompany us for a few more years, the production had no problems inserting it into the show, it even gave me space to insert more awards.
Doing this project has been fun and I still have many ideas that I would like to include in this new version in 2020.