We had an interesting brainstorming process this studio. We first went out to a grassy area at MIT to plan out what makes a game good. We were assigned the topic of what makes a video game good to us. Naturally, our entire group being comprised of Minecrafters, we started listing most of the qualities of Minecraft that made it good. Then, upon getting back, we were told to freeform design a game, and storyboard it. We designed a game where you had to find various components, and put them together in a certain pattern to win. We were then told to give our storyboard to another other group, without telling them what the point was. We received theirs as well. Their drawing was of a game where you ran around between train stations, where something told you where to go from each place, to an eventual goal. We didn’t like the idea, because it didn’t have enough complexity or tech. Our idea was that you had a pattern given to you by a box, with a second box nearby. Then, if you knocked that pattern on the second box, it would open, telling you the next location. This we didn’t like, because you could simply begin anywhere. So we redesigned. The first box would be the only one that gave you a pattern for free. It would have the next location… but you would need to knock out the correct pattern before you got the next box’s pattern. We still wanted more, so we designed something for the last box – a servo arm that would explode it when you knocked the correct pattern. Then, the prize for the lucky winner could be inside.
Our project is a scavenger hunt, where you have to follow a trail of boxes. Each box has its own pattern, which you get from the previous box. If you put the last pattern into the last box, you win.
There would be many boxes throughout the city, telling you the location of the next one. Near the first box, you would get the pattern for that box. Upon knocking it on the first box, you would get the pattern for the second box, and have to go there.
Normally, the city is sort of a means to an end. You walk through it, getting to your destination… but you never take time to actually learn the city. These boxes might help you go through the city, learning your way around, rather than just learning the places public transport comes out on.
We hope to add a bit of an air of challenge to the city. It might be cool learning what different places have beyond the superficial. We might put the boxes somewhere cooler than just a corner in a park, but perhaps at a statue of something or someone important in history.
Our project was more of a scale model than something that was built to scale. We made 3 boxes, with a piece of conductive tape on each face. One box had a fixed arduino in it, and when it touched the other boxes, it would play a tone. The pitch of the tone would depend on the order of the boxes. For example, if we put the fixed box on top of the two other boxes, it would play a different tone than if it were arranged differently! We, if we were to finish the scaled version of this project, we would have the boxes be used as chairs in a large public area, like a plaza or a square. We wanted to make sitting a more interactive experience, and to have strangers interact to make music! We wanted to make places like bus stations and park benches more interesting and interactive!
At the very beginning we werent sure what we were going to do, and the brainstorming idea we did with the other group gave us very few ideas to work with. However, we managed to pull out certain aspects of their idea and mold them into our own idea and project. We decided we wanted a fun and easy game that anyone could use while waiting in the airport. We envisioned it as simple, and something fun that you wouldn't have to commit to for any longer than a few seconds to use. We cycled through ideas, and finally decided on a fixed balance board game, that would challenge the user to immitate an angle for a set amount of time.
At first we spent a lot of time brainstorming, and thinking about what we would want the final to look like. After a lot of thinking we decided on a simple balance board idea with a matching ticker telling you which angle to balance at. We used a pvc pipe around a wooden dowel as the base for the board. This would allow for the board clamped onto the pipe to move along the fixed dowel, thus creating the balance board effect. The board was made out of a wooden plank, and had duct tape strapped around it to provide grip. The ticker was in a box connected to the top of a pvc pipe, and the pipe was stuck between two wooden planks allowing it to stand straight up. Although it was basic, this first iteration represented well the ideas we had in our head, and performed pretty much exactly how we had hoped.
Our second iteration had a few improvements from the last, we decided first that we needed more grip on the board and decided to incorporate a new method. We took tiny wooden dowels and laid them all along the board, then proceeded to cover it in another layer of duct tape. The duct tape plus the dowels gave the board the added effect of a bumpy texture, helping create grip for sneakers. Along with this, we worked on making the dowel-pvc combination tighter because it would in effect make the board easier to balance on. Many methods were tried and many were unsuccessful, all at the very most only adding a tiny bit of friction between the two materials. We also added brackets to the base of the ticker-holder, and put weight on the base; so that the pvc pipe and wooden planks would stay sturdy if someone decided to use them as an aid for balance. We decided after having seen how much difficulty people were having with the game that we needed to add some sort of support mechanism. Many ideas came and went but in the end we decided to just solidify the base of the ticker holder, thus enabling it to double as a stability aid.
Our third and final iteration had one large change made to it. In the final few hours of working, we got some constructive criticism from a studio instructor to change the look of the ticker box. We agreed that it was a little too bulky and thought about ways we could resize it. We reprinted the whole box scaled down a bit, and got approval to use some nice acrylic board for the front face of the box. We would then move the led’s inside the box, so when they lit up they would shine through the front face of the box and tell you how you were doing. Though this final improvement was made in the last few hours, it turned out looking great and largely improved the aesthetic aspect of our project.
Our Urban Game called "Surfboard" is a game that challenges the user both mentally and physically to balance at certain angles for at least 3 seconds with a new angles as soon as the last one is completed. Our idea was to create a game that provides enjoyment and reward at the end and incorporates the two major factors that normally go into games. Our game uses decorative lights as a reward once the user completes the challenges, however their is also a certain amount of self-satisfaction that is gained once completed.
Our project provides several answers to long time gaming problems. One of the more important problems that it solves is incorporating physical play in a short amount of time. Currently most physically active games require a certain amount of practice and than another 30 minutes to play in a competitive way. However our game allows the average pedestrian to challenge himself physically in just 1-2 minutes. It also allows the user to gain enjoyment or self-satisfaction without any other players.
Our game could be the stepping stone into a whole new world of games. These games could help to get the world off the couch and produce the same amount of enjoyment while also moving and challenging your body. Our game could also help the elderly with balance issues as well as war veterans. It could also be modified to people who have recently come out of a coma who are looking to regain some of their balance in a more exciting way.
Our game's use of simple rewards, as well as physical challenge, and easy to use interface makes it one of the most unique projects that we have made. We believe that as is it is already a very enjoyable game and that it's further uses are exponential.