A 3D Day in the Life of Alan Turing

nebraskaslowSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 31, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)


Alex Filipowski

MA Creative Technology

May 2012

A 3D Day in the Life of

Alan Turing

Major Project Proposal

The University of Salford


This major project proposal for the MA Creative Technology postgraduate masters
course at t
he University of Salford involves the creation of a 3D virtual game
environment and a website dedicated to Alan Turing and his work. The website will
contain information about Alan Turing and feature a 3D game, which will enable the
website visitors to as
sume the role of Alan Turing and to interact with the
environment in a variety of ways. This will allow the

to be immersed into the
virtual experience of A 3D Day in the Life of Alan Turing.


Alan Turing was a mathematician who was famou
s for his achievements at Bletchley
Park during World War II, most notably for decrypting the German Enigma codes by
utilising a machine called The Bombe. Turing was one of the founding fathers of
computer science, due to his blueprints for a computational

'Turing Machine' that
could store information using binary code. Turing is well
known for creating a
concept known as the ‘Turing Test’, which refers to the ability of a human to
distinguish between a computer and another human being without visual aid.

Inspiration for this project

While researching the life of Alan Turing for my Contemporary Arts Media Practice
project, I was compelled to look at all aspects of his career and discover more about
his life.

Alan Turing’s story is unique, as it not only fo
cussed on his academic achievements
but also his somewhat

nature and prejudice from the government who
distanced themselves away from him once his sexuality was out in the open. Very few
people knew about his heroic efforts in World War II until
after his death, in which he
tragically is believed to take his own life when he was just 41 years old.

I feel that creating an interactive game about Alan Turing’s life would be an original
way of telling his story. This has not been attempted before, d
ue to the difficulty in
turning it in the format of a game and the fact that Turing’s story is not well known in
the public domain. Creating a light
hearted game about Turing in a playful manner
would allow his life to be seen in a new light and attract a
new target audience.

The primary target audience for my project are people who are unaware about the
fantastic ideas that Alan Turing had, which are now a crucial part of our culture.
Secondary audiences for my project include those who are interested in
the history of
computer science and those who are interested in cryptology during World War II.

Technical Influences

While brainstorming this project, I have been inspired by game makers and artists
who have utilised 3D technologies to create abstract vir
tual worlds. These worlds
contain many different interactive objects and make the user feel immersed within the
environment. Immersion can be created visually and by utilising appropriate music,
sounds and ambiance.

Between the 60s and 80s, videogames wer
e not considered an art form by many due
to the commercial nature of their creation and competitive game objectives.
Videogames have started to become more like films in terms of scripts, visuals and
audio. This has added to the stylistic value of videogam
es, and has also led to the
development of games which heavily focus on visuals such as Flower, Journey and
Super Mario Galaxy. Popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Mass Effect and Halo
all focus on very detailed visuals, an intricate plot and a sweepi
ng orchestral theme.
This reflects the fact that videogames have now become a main part of modern
society and rival films in terms of
graphical capabilities, along with revenue and

Fig 1. Item crafting interface in Minecraft

In many role
aying videogames, it is possible to take several individual items and
combine them into one item. This could be utilised to create a breakfast
making mini
game, where the user is asked to create a certain type of food based on available
ingredients. This t
ype of item crafting could also be utilised in later sections of the
game such as making repairs to the Bombe or decoding messages.

Fig 2. Main character of Grand Theft Auto riding a bicycle

In the videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the main charac
ter is able to find a
bicycle and travel anywhere of their choice. The ability for the user to cycle to
Bletchley Park would provide a level of interaction which is unique and memorable.
Turing's bicycle was one of his prized possessions. He once rode over

sixty miles and
slept overnight at an inn just to be there for his first day of school. Turing also had a
habit of regularly adjusting his bicycle rather than pay to have it fixed.

In the videogame series Assassin's Creed, the player may explore towns f
reely and
interact with objects and other characters. A populated environment gives the player a
wider range of options in terms of interaction which will increase the level of
immersion for the user and thus increase the amount of time they will spend
loring the environment.
By populating the game with other characters such as
Turing’s fellow colleagues, the environment will feel more natural and will allow the
users to feel a deeper connection to the game.

In the videogame The Sims, players are able t
o create their own custom avatar and
give them a variety of different coloured and patterned clothes. This customisation
helps to give characters their own individuality and makes the interactions more

By utilising this system in the 3D game, u
sers will be able to create their
own persona which is unique to them.


My project aim is to develop a 3D game which would allow the user to assume the
role of Alan Turing and relive his time at Bletchley Park. The user can travel around
the 3D sp
ace and interact with the environment and other characters. The game would
start with some character customisation options and then allow the user to take on
Alan Turing's role by cycling to work, experiencing his daily routine and assisting the
code break

The cycling portion of the game would allow the user to travel towards a specific
location, either Bletchley Park or Turing's home. The interactive segments of the
game would take the form of a third
person free
roaming game in which the user can
plore an area and interact with objects to complete tasks.

This game would be playable on a website which will be created during this project.
The project will contain an embedded version of the game which will require the
Unity plug
in in order to be pla
yed on the user's computer.

Unity3D is a free game development tool which has been utilised by many game
developers. Games can be published for use on PCs, smartphones and games
consoles. There are several developers who are currently working on first
shooting games, driving games and role
playing games. There have also been
attempts to develop puzzle games and multiplayer games. Unity3D has been used to
develop the games Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online, Battlestar Galactica Online and


At the start of the project, research will take place to determine the best approach to
take regarding development of the game environment and major aims of the project. I
have been invited to discuss the project with a member of academic staff who h
worked on an Alan Turing exhibit

in Manchester. This will allow me to gain a
unique insight into Alan Turing’s life and provide a good foundation for
brainstorming initial ideas. It will be necessary to research marketing methods in
order to allow th
e target audience to discover the project.

3D models of buildings, characters and objects will be created in 3D Studio Max.
These will be imported into Unity3D and utilised as part of the game. Image files and
texture files will be created and edited with

G.I.M.P. Audio clips will be recorded and
procured for use within the game environment as sound effects, ambient noises or

Fig 3. Landscape generated using the Terrain Toolkit for Unity3D

made tools and assets can be used which reduce develo
pment time and allow
basic prototypes to be created more quickly. One example of this would be the
Terrain Toolkit which allows for complex landscapes to be created rapidly. Bushes
and trees can be placed randomly to improve the aesthetics. The terrain can

sculpted and edited at any point in the process. It would be possible to remove trees
or reshape the land if a particular area requires a building.

Several pre
made game engines can be adapted for use in this project to reduce
development time. These
examples include a physics demo, a driving game and a
person game.

Fig 4. Screenshot of CarTutorial for Unity3D

Fig 5. Screenshot of 3rdPersonShooter for Unity3D

When the main game environment has been created, it will be possible to playtest th
environment and highlight areas for improvement and future development.

Once the environment is finalised, it will then be possible to promote the project and
to attract a wider audience. This will then allow the ideal audience to experience the
game as

intended and permit a large number of user opinions to be captured.



Windows PC



Developing the 3D game environment

3D Studio Max

Developing 3D Models


Mixing and editing of audio files


ng of image files


Editing of video files

Web Resources

Wordpress website

Place where the game will reside


The following is a timescale of the project.

When the game is fully developed, users will be able to assess the project by us
ing a
survey. The survey will attempt to identify what their overall impressions are, the
strong aspects of the project and what improvements could be made to enhance the

I intend to complete the project in September, however if more time is a
lable, the
finished project would

be a more complete and polished product.


My intended outcome of this project is to have created a fully interactive 3D game, in
which the user is required to relive Alan Turing's life at Bletchley Park. The

will provide additional information about Turing and provide links to more websites
which cover the subjects in more detail.

Once a 3D environment has been developed to its full potential, it can be reused for
other projects which require a simil
ar degree of interaction and immersion.


List of games created in Unity3D


Figure 1

Item crafting recipes from the M
inecraft game.


Figure 2

Main character of a Grand Theft Auto game riding a Bicycle




Andrew Hodges


Alan Turing and Life's Enigma (Exhibit at the Manchester Museum)

Further Reading

Crosby, A. The Measure of Reality

Benjamin, W. The Work of Art in the Age of Mecha
nical Reproduction

Mumford, L. Technics & Civilization

Hill, S. The Tragedy of Technology

Copeland, B. The Essential Turing (2004)

Leavitt, D. The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the
Computer (2007)

Turing, S. Alan M. Turing: Cente
nary Edition (2012)

Kelly, M. Alan Turing and His Contemporaries: Building the World's First
Computers (2012)

Hodges, A. Alan Turing: The Enigma (2012)

Thompson, D. On Growth and Form (1992)

Ball, P. Shapes (2011)