Arizona State University’s Gaspee VR Experience

Nucco Brain


It’s no secret that immersive technologies like VR and AR can be powerful learning tools. They transport students into different worlds – past, present or future – and give them a first-hand experience that’s otherwise impossible, difficult or expensive.

And having made a name for themselves as a leading university in innovation, Arizona State University were looking for a partner to kick off a juicy new project.

And it was a big one. Between a mammoth VR experience and 26 content-heavy game-based assessments to build from scratch, Nucco Brain had their work cut out for them.





The Gaspee VR Experience

Aimed at teaching students about the now infamous Gaspee Affair, the goal was to create an engaging, narrative-driven learning experience using mobile-based VR.

Working in tight collaboration with ASU’s learning specialists, Nucco Brain took ASU’s raw content – all the standards students need to know for the course – and set it to a creative frame using slick visual storytelling.

The Gaspee Experience was easily the longest script that Nucco Brain tackled – the storyboard alone was 20 pages long, and there was six hours of 3D animated content to make for the VR experience.

Compatibility was one of the main considerations for the project – the VR experience needed to be accessible both for onsite students and distance learners. Nucco Brain chose Google Cardboard, as it’s the most accessible VR platform and can run on most smartphones.






The Gaspee VR project was an invaluable experience, pushing Nucco Brain beyond their comfort zone and forcing the studio to develop entirely new processes and technologies.

Apart from developing and maturing Nucco Brain’s own production processes, this project also represents a huge step forward in personalised education for universities. Being on the front foot is something ASU prides themselves on – and Nucco Brain was thrilled to have been a part of it.

As a result of the success of the Gaspee VR Experience, Nucco Brain picked up other VR projects in the education space.

Currently, ASU is raising money to begin the next round in this project.





Game-Based Assessments

Originally, the project also included 26 game-based assessments, incorporating a whopping 40 unit standards per game brought to life through interactive animations.

Each assessment was designed to be accessible for distance learners by basing them online, compatible with most PCs.

Although these assessments were scrapped for internal reasons, Nucco Brain added them here, as they were wrapped with how well they turned out.





Seamless integration with ASU’s systems

Both the Gaspee VR experience and the game-based assessments were designed to work seamlessly with ASU’s internal systems, feeding results directly into ASU’s learning management system.

Administrators get live feedback on each student’s progress and understanding of the subject matter. That means teachers are able to provide individualised content to each student – essentially, a way of making sure each student’s learning experience is relevant and engaging.

Working smarter with True Time Rendering

Although most animation is approached from start to finish, this amount of content required a more strategic approach.

Because of the sheer size of the VR experience and number of game-based assessments, Nucco Brain needed to find a solution that allowed them to recycle and reuse assets across the deliverables. Developing True Time Rendering provided an easier, faster way to create bankable scenes, props and characters.

It also allowed Nucco Brain to slash 3D rendering time – a huge boon for a project this size. There was no way the studio have been able to bring a project of this size in under budget without it.





STUDIO: Nucco Brain

VR, Entertainment, Training November 8, 2019 by Alvin Manalac