Watch Dogs “We Are Data”

Realtime 3D data gathering Watch Dogs “We Are Data”

Launched as a promo for Ubisoft’s upcoming hacker-friendly game Watch Dogs, experimental website We Are Data draws on the game’s themes by taking existing geo-tagged information freely available from social networking sites in the real world and creating a realtime representation of the results, for three major cities across the world.

We Are Data Screen 1

The concept for the site was developed by Ubisoft and a team of creatives at design agency BETC Digital. Choosing between London, Paris and Berlin, users can fly through a interconnected web of data pulled from the likes of Twitter, Flickr Instagram and Foursquare, coupled with freely available city information for things like Wi Fi hotspots, traffic lights and CCTV cameras.

The Youtube video below goes into more detail around the initial project brief faced by the team at BETC, as well as how certain tricky hurdles were overcome. As you zoom in, buildings aquire a 3D form adding to the feeling of flying “through” the realtime datascape, and it was for this aspect that Away3D was used. Rather than trying to model each individual building by hand, a freely available resource called Open Street Map provided a polyline footprint of each building, which was then extruded on the fly to create the 3D effect.

Lead developer Nicolas Barradeau was keen to find a solution for the 3D portion of the site that made sense from a production perspective. He told us:

Away3D is a well-known and well documented API that covered most of our technical needs and we knew it would be fairly easy to involve new developers in the project, so it made sense to use it rather than a custom 3D engine. Most of what we used came out of the box, yet we needed a 2D overlay to display a fair amount of pictograms. To this end, we worked with Jérôme Birembaut (one of the regular contributors of the Away3D community) to build a minimal billboard system, along with a dynamic SpriteSheet handler for animating labels, and various optimisations to the 3D scene renderer specifically targeted to benefit the look and feel of the site

The final result has already got plenty of attention on numerous gaming blogs and discussion forums, as well a recent FWA site of the day award. We think its a great example of the potential that Flash still offers for creating cutting-edge web content - and a site that everyone who worked on the project can be thoroughly proud of.