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Waurin (Euphonious Acronym for: Waterloo Augmented Reality Initiative) is a social club at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Currently, the club is the main facilitator of Augmented Reality (AR) Gaming on campus.
Originally an academic club, Waurin was founded in January 2012 by uWaterloo undergraduates Joseph Galamaheit, Boris Lenovskyvich, Valerie Ming, and Simon Alfred. The club was originally established as a research and development cooperative for Boris Lenovskyvich’s original AR system patent. Waurin completed the development of their flagship software platform ZAP’EM (Zombie, Adventure, and Puzzle Emulator Matrix) in March 2013. This allowed for total immersion AR gaming using modified Panasonic AR glasses, an unprecedented advancement in the field. Originally a refinement of early AR gaming, ZAP’EM and it’s two bundled flagship games 3D Tetris and Zombie Invasion became a worldwide phenomenon in summer the 2013. Waurin, with help of rapidly decline of hardware costs in June 2013, of catapulted the “Reality Enhancement Revolution”1.
Waurin, specifically its founders, executive team, and core development team, was the precursor to Vitruvian Augmented Reality Systems Limited inc. founded in July 2013 (HIDC| vitruvian arts). After the departure of the club’s main executives and original development team to Vitruvian, Waurin became a purely social club and uWaterloo’s main AR gaming facilitator. Waurin is still Vitruvian’s primary product testing group.
Although there have been concerns about the continuation of AR gaming on campuses2, Waurin has operated with minimal controversy over it’s 9 year existence. As of November 2019 Waurin has over 500 members who participate in monthly massively multiplayer AR games at the University of Waterloo.
Waurin was the model of AR development clubs established in the Spring of 2013 like Carit at University of Calgary, Aarin at Acadia University, and Quaint at Queens University. Thousands of campus and non-campus AR clubs across Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia are based on the Waurin social model.3
Pre-Vitruvian History | 2011-2013
Boris Lenovskyvich filed the first patent for a multiplayer, Augmented Reality (AR) , total immersion gaming system using specialized AR glasses with accelerometers and networking ability on November 20, 2011 as a freshman Computer Science Student at the University of Waterloo. A talented programmer, it had been his long time dream to create a video game system that he could physically play using his voice and his body, but the systems that were already available (smartphones at the time) to him were not satisfactorily immersive. 3
With no plan on how to actually create the system, Lenovskyvich left the idea alone. That was until when flying to Vancouver on Christmas eve 2011 he met Joseph Galamaheit, a second year Knowledge Integration student at the University. The two hit it off immediately, Galamaheit particularly interested in making Lenovskyvich’s dream a reality. They decided to work together to create a cooperative research and development club at the university to produce an advanced operating system (OS) for their own modified AR glasses. They decided on focusing on creating different concepts of games, 3D tetris and a cooperative zombie hunting game, whose content would cover the breadth of features they wanted to incorporate in an AR OS.4
While Lenovskyvich nailed down a practical design overview for such a system, Galamaheit designed a development structure for their cooperative. The original cooperative model of Waurin is now one of the most common in the world. Galamaheit also invited two others to add expertise to the initial executive of the future club. First was uWaterloo 3rd year Architecture student Valerie Ming, who is still the lead interaction designer at Vitruvian; second was 4th year uWaterloo Systems Design Engineering student Simon Alfred, who would design the modifications to the Panasonic AR-5400 model5, as well take the position of Chief Software Engineer. Lenovskyvich took the role of Lead Game Designer and Programmer, and Galamaheit the role of Operations and Marketing Designer. Lenovskyvich and Galamaheit settled on the name Waterloo Augmented Reality Initiative (Waurin) in early January 2012.
The four had their first live meeting on January 7th, 2012, and proceeded into the early development stages the following day. Galamaheit focused on raising funds and recruiting talent for the group. Research in Motion quickly signed on as a sponsor, citing the early successes of Augmented Reality software on the iPhone 5. 6 Waurin was also able to get funding from the University.
As the initial planning of Lenovskyvich, Ming, and Alfred came to a close, the group started to recruit members to start development of an AR OS, the AR gaming platform, and the two games themselves. Waurin’s initial recruitment was said to be eccentric but highly effective by its first members. One flyer was based on Ernest Shakelton’s famous 1913 call for volunteers7:
Talented programmers, artists, engineers, writers, and designers wanted for ambitious project. No wages, long hours, failing grades, and alienation from friends and family assured, safety doubtful.
1.Incredible results 2. ???? and 3. PROFIT in case of success
General Meeting Feb 21.
The unique marketing techniques and excitement of the project (particularly surrounding the AR demo and artwork produced by Lenovskyvich and Ming, shown to an overcrowded room of 300 people at the General Meeting)8 required the team to have an interview and application process to join the development group. Waurin was incorporated as a uWaterloo club on February 28, 2012 and full scale development on the systems began in the Engineering 3 building at the university on March 1st.
Over the course of 2012, working in the group was much like what was described on the original flyer. Because of member’s devotion to the project, under the leadership of an inspiring executive team, the process was very intense. Nonetheless, the club became very close and had some of the most popular and well attended social events on campus. Most of the legendary eccentric traditions of the club, like the nautical ranking system with the base unit of “flunky” were established in the original team.9
Waurin completed the proprietary AR platform (both the OS and the hardware) ZAP’EM 1.0 (Zombie, Adventure, and Puzzle Emulator Matrix) after only one year of development, in March 2013. This tremendous accomplishment speaks to the unprecedented commitment and determination of the members involved, and the vision of the executive team. The completion of the platform allowed for the accelerated development of the Beta versions of their flagship game titles, 3D Tetris and Zombie Invasion, which were both complete by May of that year.
In late may 2013, full scale testing of the two games begun. The entire club quickly realized that what they had created was “unprecedented and very special”, even exceeding Lenovskyvich’s initial imagination of the concept. Though Waurin had been subject to media attention at the beginning of 2010, it drew even more attention during the highly visible may testing. Waurin opened beta testing to Waterloo locals on June 14, 2013 and within three days the waiting list to try the game grew to over 12 000 people, only 4000 of which were University of Waterloo students.10
On June 27, 2013 Panasonic announced the immediate release of its next generation AR glasses system, Immerex. At a quarter of the price of previous systems, and integrating most of the features of Waurin’s Custom model, the club would be able to expand beyond its mere 30 sets of Custom glasses.11 Realizing the opportunity to introduce their product to the mass market, Galamaheit, Lenovskyvich, Ming, and Alfred established Vitruvian Augmented Reality Systems Limited inc. as a member company of Hollybank IDC on June 30, 2013. Nearly the complete membership of Waurin went to work at Vitruvian, and Waurin went into stasis. Vitruvian ARtS immediately released a game development toolkit for the ZAP’EM 1.0 OS bundled with 3D Tetris and Zombie Invasion to augmented reality clubs that were springing up on campuses across North America. Vitruvian signed a one-year deal with Panasonic to be the sole software provider for Immerex.
Demand for the Vitruvian ZAP’EM System for Immerex grew exponentially almost overnight, and this viral popular success caught all other AR Entertainment players completely off guard. Due to the nature of the proprietary technology the ZAP’EM-Immerex system was unchallenged in the marketplace for the entirety of summer 2013, and Panasonic struggled to meet demand for the system. Meanwhile, new content was being developed for the system by clubs across the country with the development toolkit, and Vitruvian got to work on development of next-generation AR software and hardware. The well-documented, international AR phenomenon in mid-2013 has come to be known as “Alternative Summer”12 or, in reference to the popularity of Zombie Invasion, “Summer of the Undead”13
Post-Vitruvian History | 2013-Present
The establishment of Vitruvian ARtS and departure of nearly all original members of Waurin marked the end of the club as a research and development and cooperative. After weeks of stasis, Waurin was reborn as a social club, the de facto student group for organizing large scale AR gaming at the University of Waterloo. Waurin is the most popular model for a mid-size AR social club, and clubs much like it can be found all over the world. The club is also the primary test pool for new Vitruvian arts products. 12
These are the main games the club currently organizes events for;
3D Tetris (Vitruvian Softworks):
puzzle game, played cooperatively with puzzle pieces composed of multiple blocks falling from the sky; players manipulate the orientation of the falling pieces with their hands in order to create single block layers filling an arbitrary area; when completed a single block layer, layer deletes; failure to create complete layers allows stacks of blocks to become too high, beyond the players line of sight, resulting in failure. Can be played with any size of block. Often played around the environment buildings.
Zombie Invasion (Vitruvian Softworks):
cooperative zombie hunting game; surrounding world (players, buildings) retextured procedurally, dangerous running zombies added procedurally, non players textured as ghosts; AR glasses networked between players to play in the same generated instance, use of “gun” peripherals to destroy zombies, zombie attack on player results on time out from game. Only played outside, missions often involve getting from the South Campus Hall to the SLC.
Humber’s Odyssey (Vitruvian Softworks):
Fantasy Roleplaying game occurring in world retextured as medieval; quests given to find “artifacts” in “dungeons” (indoor public areas); battle procedurally mythical beasts with fake swords; non-players textured as elves; successful quests result in player receiving “experience points”
Combat: Advanced (Vitruvian Softworks):
Team based Capture the flag retextured as mid-20th century combat with “gun” peripheral
Streets of London (Bethesda):
Roleplaying mystery game; world retextured as industrial era London; procedurally placed, pre-made quests; talk to virtual characters to solve mysteries
Grand Attack Strategy: Rome (Sid Meier):
Strategy game wherein players battle each other’s armies by commanding miniature scale Roman legions in open areas like St. Pauls green
By themselves, or cooperatively, players use a special “lightening bolt tool” peripheral to create their own worlds and populate them with what they wish; uses advanced modeling and animation techniques.
- Joseph Galamaheit
- Boris Lenovskyvich
- Valerie Ming
- Simon Alfred (Lockheed Martin)
- Vitruvian Arts People
- List of AR gaming clubs in North America
- FEDS University of Waterloo
- Panasonic Immerex
- Vitruvian arts
- Hollybank IDC
- “The Summer that Changed Everything” ;New York Times; September 01, 2013
- “AR Gaming Banned at UCLA, Goucher?”; Time Magazine; September 04, 2017
- Interview with Boris Lenovskyvich; Globe and Mail; August 26, 2013
- A Short History of AR Gaming; Bruce Lyant; Doubleday Press; 2018
- “Something’s Happening at Waterloo”; National Post; January 08, 2013
- RIM Investor Report 2012
- Archives, University of Waterloo Dana Porter Library
- “Interdisciplinary Club on Campus”; Imprint; January 22, 2012
- “Inside Waterloo’s Coolest Club”; Imprint; October 7, 2012
- “Zombies, Tetris and Undergrads, Oh My!”; The K-W Record; June 25, 2013
- An Interview with Joseph Galameheit; The Times-Colonist; March 6, 2015
- “A Brave New World”; Wired; October 2013 Cover Issue
- “Move over, traditional media”; Entertainment Weekly; August 6, 2013
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