This is the story behind Dodo Adventures. In 2018, I visited Mauritius Island and Rodrigues Island which is about a two hour flight from Mauritius to the east. The easternmost part of Africa. These tropical paradises were both exciting and inspiring and parts of those islands were teeming with life, especially in nature parks. The heat was quite strong and the tropical wind with oceanic smell was quite distinctive. It felt like a paradise and it was easy to imagine these islands to have many different endemic animals living there once. Before this post, I wrote another blog post called: “Mauritius spill affects fishermen – my experience at Mauritius part #1“. Please, take a look at.
Meeting giant turtles
I visited a place in Rodrigues where they tried to resurrect some tortoise species that were common in some other islands in the Indian Ocean. The endemic tortoise species that once wandered in Rodrigues island were extinct, because the sailors in the past realized that tortoises lived very long in a boat without much water and food.
So they ate them all. As sad as the old story is, some people are trying to get new species of tortoises back to Rodrigues island, which is bringing some hope to animal conservation and might in a long run resurrect the island back to its “normal state”.
Visiting the Mauritius dodo museum
Back in Mauritius island, I visited a museum which had a full size dodo skeleton. The skeleton looked so real that it was easy to imagine real dodos wandering around the island with a big beak and a quite chubby body. Just outside of the museum there were trees and flat ground and I was thinking that a few hundreds years back, there were many dodo nests around that area. Of course I couldn’t know, because there was not that much information or log info about dodos and their natural habitat. However, the lack of information and quite unclear disappearance of the dodo bird gave food for my imagination. I was thinking that perhaps it was possible to see the dodo in “real life” again. Perhaps even more real than in the book of Alice Wonderland or in a movie called “Ice Age 1”.
Starting to develop the Dodo Adventures experience
So came this idea to create a Dodo Adventure Series VR experience. When I settled back in Finland, the snow and dark weather was surrounding the houses. It was a pleasure to create something that was tropical during this cold and dark weather. So I took my old Unity3D game engine sketches of tropical maps and started working on those. I received a model of a dodo bird and put it on the island. The dodo fitted there so well that I thought this was the real dodo Island. I worked in an office and time-travelled to the distant ancient island many times a day and thought it was a beautiful, meditative and motivating experience. So the story behind Dodo Adventures continued.
After we received funding and started a company in early 2019, Dodo Adventures was in its early stages. It didn’t have anything interactive, just a “stand there” experience where people could take the VR headset and turn their head, see a dodo and the island. I realized that people liked the experience and it was a really good experience for the newcomers in VR. For people who had never tried VR before.
Story behind Dodo Adventures. Exhibition in Itoshima, Japan
In February 2019, an early version of the Dodo Adventures was asked to be as an exhibition in Itoshima, Japan. The exhibition was really exciting and many people passed by and tested the installation as well as going to see the other installations made by other artists. I remember that all the different artistic installations were really cool and they varied a lot based on the artist’s own medium. All of the artistic installations had some inspiration from Japanese art, environment, people or language. I was especially inspired by the mountains and wanted to use the mountains as part of the Dodo Adventures environment. Therefore, the experience became a hybrid of Mauritius and Japan.
The actual development started
After coming back to Europe from Japan, the actual development started and I remember working on Dodo Adventures about three days a week and two days a week with an European project also in the VR/AR field. As time went by, Dodo Adventures got it’s cave scene and made the transformation from human to animal and the realization of becoming something new to happen. Late 2019 Aune and Andres joined to be part of the TechLemon marketing team. Then Ella joined to make some 3D models. Gurunath prepared a logo for TechLemon and Elio started composing sounds for the experience. Aune started also working with the game development and Andres worked with TechLemon.io website. At this time, a place called “The Shortcut” provided a place where it was possible to conduct some beta tests to the Dodo Adventures experience. I remember that almost 50 people tried Dodo Experience and provided feedback to the development.
Finishing the game and the story behind Dodo Adventures continued
In early 2020, the game started to look like a finished product and we planned to start to distribute the game to different institutions, such as museums. However, suddenly the Corona pandemic arrived and we had to change our plan and directions. The plan was to create only one version of the game that would become an installation. Instead of having just one, we started working on a second version of Dodo Adventures, meant for “regular” end users, like gamers who play Virtual Reality games in their homes. We created and launched Dodo Adventures in Steam and Itch.io in August 2020!
So this was the story behind Dodo Adventures. Back to this very moment! The game is now launched on Steam. We still have our original idea of an installation and the project develops organically all the time. I see the importance of developing Dodo Adventures project more and more. I can assume that the root to this pandemic is quite a complex problem and might be also related to human activity, more or less. The most recent oil spill accident in the Indian Ocean reveals that we humans are big players on Planet Earth. We have the possibility to transform, realize, fix and imagine. This can happen, of course, to the good or bad. Human presence is inevitable and we are part of nature. Human activity puts biodiversity at risk. It is fundamental to preserve life and species in any part of the world. Perhaps this pandemic will force us to rethink the right schemes. Now it is urgent to find solutions to these problems!
More blog posts are available here.