This past weekend there was a festival for indie games at the Museum of Moving Images in Queens. There were a ton of amazing talks and indie games doing all sorts of interesting and unique things, but here are a few I saw that stood out to me:
During the festival there was a 10 hour game jam going on where game designers had to create a new alt-ware game using an unreleased platform, Blinks, inspired by the work of the indie game designers, Jason Rohrer.
Blinks is a new alt-ware gaming platform where there are multiple hexagon tiles that can “talk” to each other. Games can be programmed on one tile and then transfer data about the game to others.The designers of the platform needed more games for the platform so they made it extremely easy to code new games on it and sponsored this game jam. A few teams were able to finish making games in a couple of hours so they decided to make more. Here’s a video and instructions for a game on the platform:
The players take turns.
On your turn, you break the array of tiles into two chunks and put them back together in another formation.
When a tile has at least two neighbors but none match its color, it blinks with happiness.
The first player whose tiles are all happy at once wins.
Getting Over It:
The creator of the popular frustrating game QWOP and GIRP is back with a new ridiculously challenging game called Getting Over It. The user plays as a man stuck in a pot trying to get over a trash mountain using a giant hammer. Just like Foddy’s other games, this one involves very unintuitive controls making the interaction of controlling the avatar the challenge of the game. The best part about seeing it at the expo is that the creator was there giving encouraging commentary to users as they failed miserably at playing his game. It was hilarious.
Oh man, this talk was so good! Here’s the description from the schedule:
Ubiquitous computing, Internet of Things, Immersive Theater, Physical Computing, Augmented Reality – the stunning growth of technological and artistic possibility for interaction design is driving games, play, and interaction out of our flat screens and into the truly interactable space of the real world. IndieCade co-founder Celia Pearce explores this brand new world of play in a talk for designer and players alike.
One of the cofounders of indieCade, Celia Pearce, went through a presentation that highlighted dozens of the great games that broke away from using a screen as the interface. I’ll try to hunt down the full deck and see if she’s maybe able to come in to demo a few of them to us if that’s something we think is useful, but here’s the one I thought was most unique.
Fear Sphere is a horror game played in a pitch black inflatable sphere. One person crawls inside an inflatable dome with a projector with a gyroscope inside of it, to help them find their way out of a virtual maze. Other players stay outside with a map to guide them. The projector is used like a flashlight to give a sense of being in a pitch black world.
Thoughts and Prayers the Game:
This game wasn’t at the expo but I was told about it while there. It’s a great example of how games can include political opinions and have messages within them. The idea of the game is that you send thoughts and prayers after mass shootings and your score is how many lives you’ve saved. Spoiler: it’s always zero.
So.. At EmTech conference in Asia this week, Jun Rekimoto, a Japanese AR/VR researcher affiliated with Sony, showed off ChameleonMask. It’s a “Human Uber” software, in which someone straps a screen to their face and fills in for someone else.
Why it’s hot:
The future is finally here
How can the surrogates see? Do they need to poke eye holes out? Too many questions..
Apparently some people are ready to sign up as surrogates for new gigs
Weird Nintendo is often the best Nintendo, or so it is said. After all, two of its biggest successes (the Wii and the Switch) are far from ordinary consoles. Now, with a year of huge Switch sales behind it, Nintendo is getting even weirder with Labo — cardboard accessories that kids can build themselves and use to immerse themselves in a game’s world. So far, Nintendo has shown off a mini piano, fishing rod, robot fighting suit, remote-controlled robot walkers … and what amounts to a cardboard house with your Switch screen built right into the middle. All of these are controlled in some way by the Switch Joy-Cons.
Looks awesome, but it’s $69.99 for the variety pack and $79.99 for the robot pack. Reactions to the price point have been pretty mixed:
Some people are fine with the price because of the amount of design work that went into getting the cutouts to be perfect. One video has someone trying to make their own cardboard Switch accessories to compare to to cut out Nintend Labo ones:
Why it’s hot:
Nintendo is thinking about the Switch as a general entertainment device rather than a traditional game console.
One of the first games Nintendo announced for the console was 1-2 Switch, a party game that encourages face-to-face interaction and involves using the Joy-Cons as a Swiss army knife that can function as almost any tool, ranging from a Ping-Pong racket to a sword. Labo is a great evolution of that concept, and much different from anything being offered by the other top consoles on the market.
The product can be pitched as a STEM learning tool since it involves aspects of building and making things before users can play the games.
Kids get bored of accessories for consoles, instead of having piles of unwanted extra wii controller accessaries, the Labo accessories will be recyclable
The high price point might make people hold onto them a bit longer than they would otherwise.
It’s going to be interesting to see if people spend the money on these kits or not and how cheap third party knock-offs will be!
Furrion, a company that normally makes high-end appliances, created a mech called Prosthesis to start a new kind of racing league.
“The Prosthesis is an exoskeleton that weighs 8,000 pounds, has a top speed of 20 mph, and the company says the battery can power the mech for an hour. This isn’t a robot. It’s an exoskeleton that requires a driver.”
Such hype! So what do the people of YouTube think?
Good points. It seems like it really wouldn’t be that exciting to watch people race in slow moving machines that are all built the same way. I looked around a bit and found this video that shows how it’s controlled. Seems like there would be some skill required to actually get it to move the right way.
So yeah, I guess it could be exciting to watch people struggle to control this heavy slow machine. It doesn’t say when the first race will be but I’ll for sure tune in for it.
There are a lot of great Sketch plugins but this is the first one I’ve seen that let’s you animate right in Sketch. Currently, to make animated prototypes you’d have to make wireframes in Sketch and then import them into Principle or a similar program to animate them.
It’s only available for pre-order at the moment but should be releasing in about 11 days.
Why it’s hot:
Awesome plugin to streamline the wireframing to prototype workflow
Invision Studios is also releasing later this month too, it’ll be a good month for new prototyping software!
Petlandia is a service that allows users to edit an avatar to look like their pet and then puts them into a story book. I went through it with my cat, Miso.
Miso, for reference.
I started off by editing an avatar to make it like Miso. Colors and pattern seem to be the major customizable features.
Then I entered details about him and his owners (me and my girlfriend Meg).
And that was it! I had a book all about my kitty.
There’s about 30 pages in the book that I could purchase it for $30.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
I browsed their site about after purchasing the book as a Christmas present to my cat (I hope he likes it!) and found that they have an app where you can make stickers for your pets to send in chats. …I had to try it.
I downloaded the app from the App Store.
There’s no logging in, so I had to make Miso’s avatar again. Look at him with his cute lil face!
I sent a sticker to Meg on Facebook, but she reminded me that we have two cats and I can’t play favorites.
So back to the app which allows you to create multiple pets to make some Allister stickers.
As part of a skit for the Late Late Show, the cast of Thor put on a high-school play version of the movie at a theater to a surprised audience.
Why it’s hot:
Hilarious marketing stunt for a movie
Disrupting the movie industry with 4D movies
P.S. The team at Looking Glass Factor wants to thank everyone that came by to check out the demo they showed us on Tuesday. We’re all invited to the launch party on Tuesday in Greenpoint which sounds like it has a bunch of other fun things to play with. RSVP on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1548171508552285/
The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio concept was created from a collaboration between Lamborghini and MIT. They wanted to envision a supercar not from the next generation, but the generation after that. It focuses on:
The Terzo uses super-capacitors, which can accept and deliver charge faster than batteries can instead of traditional storage batteries.
Lamborghini and MIT are researching using the car’s carbon fiber body as an energy storage medium, turning the whole body into a battery.
That technology can also be used to monitor the car’s carbon fiber structure.
For example, if small cracks develop, the charge may move through the body differently, which can kick-start a “self-repairing” process in order to prevent the cracks from growing.
In terms of propulsion, it packs four electric motors, one in each wheel, which permits more freedom in design by hiding all the motor-related stuff in the wheel wells.
Looks like a Lamborghini, but with the removal of a traditional drivetrain, the cabin is pushed forward a great deal and air channels are everywhere to help keep the car as planted as possible.
Automation is shown off as something to help the owner become a better driver instead of a solution.
It could be capable of taking a driver around a track to display the best driving line, so that drivers can enhance their own abilities without an actual coach sitting in the car with them.
This past weekend I went to the PlaycraftingNYC indie game expo and saw a bunch of aweosme innovative games and tech. The one that stood out to me the most is the HoloPlayer One by Looking Glass Factory. It’s a three-dimensional interface that allows multiple people to interact with holograms with full-color, fully dynamic floating 3D worlds/objects with a touch of their fingers.
The 3D worlds are visible from a range in front of the device, so multiple people can view the world without the use of VR glasses.
The interface detects touch in a three-dimensional way, so you can create 3D objects by just touching the air inside the hologram.
I got to sculpt a 3D object the same way you would with clay, move lighting around a 3D world, and even use a sword to slice up fruit in a 3D version of Fruit Ninja.
The team is based in Greenpoint and said we can come by anytime to check it out or have them come in to give us a demo of it. They have a free Unity3D SDK that developers can use to create experiences for the HoloPlayer One. The device is set to launch at the end of November.
One of Adobe’s newest project involves giving users a 360 interface to edit 3D sounds. Instead of needing to figure out the exact panning, echoing, delays, etc to fake a 3D sounds, this project lets sound designers see and move their audio files in 3D space. This is pretty similar to what I’m used to doing already in 3D games with Unity, but it’s great to see it available for 360 sound design in general.
Why it’s Hot:
Innovative way to deal with an interface issue
Allows sound designers an easy way to create 360 sounds
It’s just a prototype for now, but may be making into into an Adobe product in the future.
Oculus’ Connect 4 VR conference held place recently and Facebook announced some awesome stuff. I’ll be focusing on the two that stood out for me, but you can see some others on this article.
First one that caught my attention was the Oculus Dash, Facebook’s new user interface that let’s users customize their VR Home space with the goal of replacing traditional computer monitors in a very Minority Report-style way.
Users can easily open apps and move windows in the 3D space around them. Dash will let users open desktop apps like Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, Spotify, and Chrome.
The next that that caught my attention was Facebook’s new 3D posts in the newsfeed. It will allow users and brands to post interactive 3D models right in their newsfeed. These can be simple 3D objects that users can rotate around and zoom in on, or more interactive. For example, the demo below shows how users can open a 3D car door.
Nowadays everyone is on their mobile devices connecting over digital social networks. Experience tube, by Meow Wolf (amazing place btw check out the other stuff they do), allows users to connect one on one with no distractions IRL.
With the release of iOS 11 came ARKit and a bunch of cool new apps that use the augmented reality technology. This week I saw two that caught my eye for similar reasons.
First is Placenote which allows its users to design interfaces for physical spaces in augmented reality. You could use Placenote to “leave instructions for your airbnb guest, help friends find your apartment, even create and share an interactive museum tour.”
Second is Holo with ARKit, an app that allows users to place 3D objects into their videos/photos.
Why it’s Hot:
Holo with ARKit is an awesome use case to show how ARKit can be used to personalize videos. It could easily be adopted by SnapChat or a similar social network
Placenotes allows users to create experiences in a new medium. Airbnb recently added the guidebook feature to their app which allowed hosts to add a step by step guide for how to reach the apartment/find keys/get in through photos and copy. This would be a great new feature for them to use for hosts to leave notes for guests in AR.
Placenotes could be used at events or shops to give guests information in a unique way.
Both of these products are early ARKit examples. Can’t wait to see what could come next with the type of tech!
An artist created an AR app that displays visualizations for sounds in a 3D space. It remembers the space the device was in when a sound is recorded, creates a visual for it, and plays the chunk of audio for the visualization closest to the user. So, users can “scrub” through audio in AR.
Move aside reality shows, its time for Virtual Reality shows. A new show on Facebook’s new updated video platform came out that puts two strangers together on a virtual date. The people are first 3D scanned and then are placed in a room together wearing a motion capture suit and Vive. They see the other person’s avatar in the virtual world around them. The scans aren’t always the best and the motion capture is hilariously bad, but it kind of adds to the whole thing and allows the soon-to-be couples to easily make jokes about what’s going on around them. The then go on different virtual dates; painting a 3D dream house together, going to space and changing into aliens, or surviving a zombie attack for examples. Afterwards the participants are interviewed and all of them have said the VR aspects of the date helped take a lot of the tension off and allowed them to easily connect without even being able to fully see each other yet and they’ve all chosen to go on a second date so far!
Example of the new weekly shows on Facebook’s video platform
Great use of VR technology
Shows how people feel more comfortable in a virtual world when interacting with someone new
This inspired me to take my girlfriend on a VR date for our anniversary last weekend to Jump Into the Light. It’s a VR arcade in LES that has a ton of great games set up (no multiplayer ones sadly). But we did enjoy giving each other hints when trying to escape Rick’s garage as a Morty clone and help each other fight robots in Space Pirate Training. I definitely recommend going and checking it out!
The Void is known for making “Hyper-Reality” experiences, much more involved than your standard VR experience. The Ghostbusters experience they have in NYC (Which i still haven’t gone to but totes want to if anyone wants to make the field trip) involves users actually physically walking around a plywood maze while wearing HTC Vives, haptic feedback vests, and unique controllers to fully immerse users in the experience. They also have environmental effects like changes in temperature, fans to simulate windy areas, furniture and other props for users to touch and feel like what they see in VR is really there in front of them.
Ghostbusters VR Experience for Reference:
Why It’s Hot:
The Void was a startup not that long ago with big dreams that seemed impossible, now they have 4 successful location-based VR experiences in 4 major cities and opening a new one at the holy grail of experiences, Disney.
They seem to be the leaders now in this Location-Based VR experiences.
Great reference when create completely immersive VR experiences for users.
A game studio, Trixi Studios, posted a music video made with AR.
The studio used Apple’s new ARKit technology to create the music video. ARKit is a tool that allows developers to create AR mobile apps like this one more easily. It will be officially releasing in September and be supported on iOS 11 devices.
Why it’s Hot:
Great execution of AR technology
Currently a big hype around AR mobile apps with the release of ARKit coming up
Come Out & Play is an annual festival of street games that turns New York City & San Francisco into a giant playground. They provide a forum for new types of public games and play by bringing together players eager to interact with the world around them and designers producing innovative new games and experiences.
Over the years, thousands of players have gathered to play dozens of city-wide games. Players raced through the night in a city-wide game of zombie tag. Friends faced off in life-sized Pong using only their ears to “hear” the ball. (Papier-mache) pigeons were pummeled with wiffleball bats. Bicyclists armed with spray chalk and stencils competed to claim and build bike lanes. Strangers worked together to build and race blindly through labyrinths as part of a ancient lost sport. Payphones produced points, and Tompkins Square Park became a putt-putt course.
I’ve attended the festival twice. One of my favorite games, Spaghetti Standoff, involves players protecting a piece of uncooked spaghetti while trying to break their opponents’. Another was a real life version of Angry Birds where players used a giant sling shot and stuffed angry birds to knock down stuffed pigs in cardboard/plastic castles. The game where you had to put Sorry pieces on a spinning vinyl record was so stressful. There’s something magical about playing a game with or against other people in person that is just impossible to accomplish over a digital space.
Why it’s Hot:
It’s interesting to see the different challenges and solutions game designers have when designing games for an outdoor space instead of digital
Google released Blocks, a VR application that allows users to create 3D assets while immersed in a VR environment themselves.
“Blocks lets you easily create 3D objects in virtual reality, no matter your modeling experience. Using six simple tools, you can bring your applications to life, create a volumetric masterpiece, or simply let your imagination run wild.
Get inspired by others’ creations or publish your own to inspire the world around you. No matter your modeling experience, you’ll create beautiful 3D objects in no time.”
Tapjoy (one of the largest mobile gaming advertising networks) released a report this week showing how mobile gamers interact and think about mobile ads that appear in gaming apps. The findings aren’t that surprising but a good reminder of best practices when working in this medium/with this audience.
Consumers prefer rewarded video ads over interstitial by a 4-to-1 margin
More than half of users are “very likely” to engage with rewarded ads
More than half of US consumers prefer freemium apps with rewarded ads over paid apps or traditional ad-supported apps
Watching videos is a consumer’s favorite way to earn in-app rewards, preferred by at least 6X over any other type of rewarded advertising offer
Humorous videos are the best way to get attention; ads featuring Sex Appeal or Famous Celebrities are among the worst ways
Ads for Movies & Entertainment are the most popular category, followed by ads for Food & Restaurants, Retailers, Fitness & Healthcare, and Local Services, respectively
Play NYC, New York City’s first dedicated gaming convention, will be taking place in August. If you want to see some great local indie games and how they integrate reward ads in different innovative ways definitely come grab a ticket. There’s a lot of interesting gamification growth hacking to be learned! +I might have a booth for a game or two that I’ve been working on 😉
Everything is a game that launched recently that successfully creates an interactive sandbox experience that lets players explore and find meaning in their actions.
The game allows users to take control of a random… thing. They can move around, scale, multiple, and dance. Once they want to be something else, they easily just point a cursor at it and now can control the new thing. They can grow up to the size of the entire universe, or become as small as atoms and particles. As they explore, clips from an Alan Watts speech play explaining the spiritual connection between all things in the universe.
“An extravagantly successful project… it is the rare game that may push you to want to lead a better life.” – Washington Post
They did have a bit of a backlash when they went on sale and Steam users got this notification 🙂
Why it’s Hot:
The developers really nailed down the UX/Game Design of allowing the player to explore and change the world with very few limitations (compared to No Man’s Sky which has many negative reviews)
Games that try to have more meaning generally aren’t as successful as this game has become