ARG = FTW

Google Goggles

Ok so following on from my last post I am now 100% on board with Augmented Reality games. I’ve been playing the AR games for the Nintendo 3DS and am just not tiring of them. I never would have thought that fishing on my coffee table would be so immersive. I’ve also been checking out AR games on other platforms and have been amazed to find that there are dozens of them available for the iPhone and Android devices. It really just highlights the rising popularity in this field which I don’t see dying down any time soon.

Unlike Virtual Reality which I consider to have been a fad, AR has much more statying power. This, I think, is due to the way in which the AR user is still able to perceive a version of reality rather than being presented with a totally synthetic one as the VR user is. Google have potentially just started an AR arms race with their first foray into wearable computing, Project Glass (pictured above and detailed in the video below), which is a set of AR glasses that layers information about a user’s environment directly onto their retina.

Developments like this have shown me that there is definitely a market that are interested in all things AR, and that the market is growing. My proposed interactive project Coin Hunt 3DS for Nintendo’s latest handheld is one such ARG. In my last post I mentioned that I had pitched my idea to a panel of industry experts. Their feedback highlighted some interesting areas of consideration for my project.

One of the main pieces of feedback I was given was that I should expand the game to Smart Phones instead of the 3DS. this was probably the only piece of feedback I have discarded. After researching the 3DS a bit further I discovered that after a bit of a rocky start it has become the fastest selling console in Japan’s history (Highlighted in the graph below). Although the number of users with a 3DS is a mere fraction of the number with a smart phone, the unique capabilities of the handheld and it’s dedicated user base have convinced me to stick with it.

Graph

Some other considerations from the pitch were, what would incentivise players to place stickers in the environment and upload their locations online as well as actually go out and find them. I thought that the best way to motivate people to take part in the game (having it as a free download wouldn’t be enough) would be to offer incentives in the form of Club Nintendo coins which can be redeemed for gifts on the Club Nintendo website.

Another concern was that of how the game would be monetised. I have also had a think about this and concluded that the money required to recoup the costs of the game’s development and push it into profit would be through the card collecting aspect of the game. There is a lot of potential in card collecting games - the Pokemon card Collecting game has sold 14 billion cards worldwide to date after all. Tapping into this market would be the quickest way to monetise COin Hunt 3DS.

And that is just about it. I am now totally for AR, and can’t wait for the many advances that will undoubtedly be made in this field over the next few years. The future’s bright, the future’s augmented.

Smack My Pitch Up

So about a week ago I pitched my project idea to a panel of industry experts in a Dragon’s Den style day of intense pitching intensity. As you’ll all recall from my last Interactive Media Module post from a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to scrap the Character Generator app I’d previously been working on because it was dull with a capital boring. So in place of the app I’m now developing an idea for an Augmented Reality Game for the Nintendo 3DS, because ARG + 3DS = FTW (I’m getting that printed on a t-shirt as we speak).

Approximately 24 hours before the pitching session was set to begin I decided that pitching with my mouth, body and hands would be as dull as dishwater, dishwater that had been used to clean some particularly dull crockery in fact. I decided instead to take myself out of the equation (sort of) and put together the video below (which didn’t in any way at all whatsoever take me 12 solid hours of weeping , self flagellation and abject misery to put together, no, no sir).

So here it is, Coin Hunt 3DS, an ARG for the 3DS.

Hopefully the video covers all the main aspects of the game that I want to include. I was inspired to come up with something that gets you out of the house and on a bit of a treasure hunt after discovering the joys of Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor pursuit that’s been going for about the last ten years and sees participants locating small, waterproof caches in areas of interest using the cache’s GPS coordinates which are obtained online (More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching unt here: http://www.geocaching.com/).

It can bascally be summed up by the picture below.

Geocache Chick

That’s a Geocache she’s holding, not some deer droppings.

Once the cache is located, you add your name to the log that is included and then go online to boast about finding it. The pursuit is basically for hardcore trekkers and sporty types who like foraging in woodland. I thought a more laid back version that is suitable for the whole family would be fun, and having discovered the ARG capabilities of the 3DS I decided to create an ARG version for that platform.

I also decided that it’d be cool to include a card (or in this case sticker) collecting aspect that also included an ARG element, not unlike the Pokemon “Pokedex” game currently available for the 3DS (outlined in my last post, remember? Yeah that’s the one). So in it’s current form the mechanicas of the game would work thusly:

First off the player downloads the Coin Hunt (TM) game for free from the Nintendo e-Store via their 3DS. Then the player buys a pack of Coin Hunt (TM) cards, each card pack would include one sticker card. The player would then go out into their environment and stick the sticker somewhere (i.e. on a wall), but not before scanning the sticker with their 3DS and obtaining it’s unique Coin Hunt (TM) code. They would then log on to the game’s corresponding website (through their 3DS’ WiFi connection no doubt), enter the Coin Hunt (TM) code and sticker location (possibly using something like Google Maps for accuracy and possibly also uploading a photo taken with their 3DS that shows the sticker’s location). Once they have done this they look at some of the other players sticker locations, find one near them and head out with their 3DS to try and find it.

Coin Found

Once they have located another player’s sticker card out in the environment, the player scans it with their 3DS whereupon an ARG is initiated, this could be something as simple as an animation (the coin on the sticker could rotate and shimmer and stuff) or a game could be initiated; something like the existing 3DS ARG Face Raiders (see below).

Once the ARG is over the player is given the unique Coin Hunt (TM) code that corresponds to that sticker. They would then go online to the Coin Hunt (TM) website and enter the code, proving that they have found the coin. I should also mention that the stickers themselves would be biodegradable, so after a set period they would no longer exist in the environment. This could result in certain sets being made available for a limited period only which would also mean that the ARGs associated with them would also be one-offs.

So what’s the incentive for all this sticker placing/sticker scanning malarkey then hmm? Coins that’s what! Nintendo Club Coins to be precise. These coins are part of a rewards scheme Nintendo runs. The idea is that if a customer registers a product (a game, a console etc.) or even watches a video on their handheld or console, then they are awarded coins that can be redeemed for gifts like merchandise, posters, t shirts and what not. They can also use the coins to purchase stuff online like games that can be downloaded onto their consoles.

I also thought that the game could utilise the 3DS’ “Streetpass” feature to allow players to exchange their stats and data about the whereabouts of stickers they’ve already found. The player’s 3DS could also be updated with info on new stickers in their area using the system’s “Spotpass” feature as they sleep. More info on Streetpass and Spotpass outlined by the helpful Michael Cerra look-a-like in the video below.

And that’s about it as far as my Coin Hunt 3DS idea goes. The next time I blog about it will probably be the last, and in that blog I’ll outline the feedback I received after pitching the idea and how the feedback might effect the overall idea.

I’ll see you then.

An Augmented Vision Of The Future

T2

Hello.

It’s a been a while since my last Interactive Media Module post so I suppose I’d better post an update with the status of my Project. I probably should be panicking right now because I’ve decided to scrap the (let’s face it [pun intended] pretty uninspiring) character generator app that I was previously developing in favour of an augmented reality game (ARG). Basically I’ve had my eyes opened to the possibilities of ARGs in the last few weeks. This is mainly through being gifted a Nintendo 3DS for my birthday (thanks J!) and through attending a lecture by the head of Zappar, a company who specialise in ARG apps.

Here’s an idea of what Zappar do.

Cool huh? The possibilities with this are endless and Zappar are doing some really cool stuff with interactive T-shirts and are also working on developing an on demand podcast mini series that would have episodes triggered by pointing your AR device (phone, tablet, games system etc) at a bog standard stop sign.

Check out some examples of their work here: http://vimeo.com/zappar/videos

Excitingly, Nintendo have packaged their 3DS system with it’s very own augmented reality game. Have a look at the video below for an idea of what it involves. You can’t help but smile when you play this game. The illusion that reality is being manipulated before your very eyes is pretty thrilling.

They’ve also got a Pokemon game that looks pretty interesting. It’s called Pokedex 3D, it’s free through the Nintendo eShop and it’s sort of a virtual card collecting game. You start off with about 16 Pokemon, each with their own unique QR codes. You can expand your collection by scanning the QR codes of your friend’s Pokemon both within their 3DS’ or via Pokemon marker cards. This video might explain things a little better.

Don’t worry I’m not a massive Pokemon fanatic or anything, but this game pretty much encapsulates everything I want to do with my own ARG.

So ARGs = FTW. More on what my game will actually involve in the next post. The anticipation, I can sense, is palpable.

Interactive Media Module Blog Post No. 3 - “Appy New Year!”

Hi

Good I hope.

So following on from my last post I suppose I should outline the idea I want to develop for the Interactive Media Project I’m working on as part of my Screenwriting MA.

I mentioned in my last post that I’m eschewing the idea of developing a game in favour of an app. This was mainly due to time constraints and a lack of inspiration. Ideally I’d have come up with something story based, mainly because if I do end up working in interactive media, writing story based stuff is where I’d like to be, although I’m open to anything. So when I decided against the game idea I started thinking about Apps. An app or “software application” to give it it’s unabbreviated title, in a nutshell, is a piece of computer software that has been designed to help the user perform a specific task. With this in mind I started to think about what kind of apps might be useful to a screenwriter. Specifically a lazy screenwriter, like myself.

Character?Once in this mindset, I quickly came up with the idea of developing an application that would help with the creation of characters. I sometimes find it difficult to come up with characters that are more than two dimensional and I think having  access to a tool that would allow the building blocks of interesting characters to be laid down would be immensely helpful.

This character generator app would allow the user to input various variables such as age, sex, location, employment,  etc. and maybe a wild card option such as “has a wooden leg” or “broke the record for most chillis eaten in a single sitting”…I’d base these variables on a character creation check list we were given in semester one.

The options available to the outcome of your character traits would tie in to various databases, and there could even be a rudimentary avatar creation tool that would give you an idea of what your character looked liked.

The emphasis on the app would be user input, so you could create the basis for a character but then write your own biog for the character you create for instance. I’d also like to tie it in to social networking, so the option would be there to upload your newly created character to Facebook etc…And perhaps there would be a points system in place for doing so. These are all options I’ll need to expand on in further posts.

Speaking of which, my next post will outline all the current apps. that exists out there that are similar to this idea and will no doubt highlight the fact that someone has already done something similar but ten times better and I’ll panic and be forced to scrap the idea and come up with a 2D side scrolling, platformer about a talking cucumber that has to travel through time to warn his ancestors about the development of GM foods whilst collecting magic apples and battling mutated carrots. Actually, wait a minute, that’s pretty good…

Interactive Media Module Blog Post No. 2!!!

Note to self - try harder with titles.

3 Headed

So here it is my second Interactive Media Module post. Get ready for it. 

Where to begin…Where to be-Ah! So as mentioned in my previous post I’m currently supposed to be developing an interactive project as part of my Screenwriting MA at Screen Academy Scotland.

When I was first tasked with the um task (yes, I am an aspiring writer), I immediately thought “Bam! Easy. Computer game. Point and click adventure. Bosh. Back of the net. End of. Case closed. Thank you and goodnight.”

Then I actually sat down and tried to conceive one and quickly realised the mammoth task that developing an idea for an original computer game involves. It’s like writing a feature flm - but harder, because you have to think of the game mechanics i.e. how the game works, what the game play involves, what the end of level baddies look like when they explode, how many coins are required before you can save the princess that sort of thing. And in the case of a point and click adventure you have to come up with a (kind of non-linear) story and puzzles. Clever puzzles. Inventive puzzles. Lots of puzzles.

I’ve got a long history of playing point and click adventures. They’re probably responsible more than any other type of game for etching long lasting memories into my mind. From The Secret OF Monkey Island, to Maniac Mansion, to Simon The Sorcerer to Beneath A Steel Sky and more modern titles (there’s been a bit of a resurgence in recent years) like Samorost and Machinarium, I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by this genre of game. But yeah the puzzles are tough. And I just don’t think I’d be able to come up with a good enough story, characters and decent puzzles in the time available to complete our individual projects.

So basically this is a long and rambling way of saying that I’VE CHANGED MY MIND! I’m now thinking of focusing on developing an app. It’s outside of my comfort zone - I know sweet FA about em, but that’s why I’ve chosen to go down this route. I need to learn. Anyway I’m thinking that an app that will be useful to an aspiring screenwriter would be a good starting point. I actually have an idea in mind but I’ll save that for Interactive Media Module Blog Post No. 3!!!

Bet you can’t wait.

Right! I’m about to use a reanimate corpse spell on this blog, Let’s hope it works better than it did on poor old Lydia. (I wasn’t the dude that made the video by the way, I’m not as English as that or nerdy. I’m not Englsh at all come to think of it)

The reason I am reanimating the corpse of this blog is purely for academical (sic) reasons. Honest. As part of my Screenwriting MA I’m doing an Interactive Media module and one of the assignments requires that I start to develop an idea for something interactive. Could be a game, could be a website, could be something mind blowing like an augmented or alternate reality role playing game with real life humans and lasers. So no longer shall I be posting meaningless GIFs or pictures of enzombified protocol droids. No, instead I’ll be talking seriously about what inspires and influences me in the world of interactivity-ness. I shall also endeavour to improve my vocabulary.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet but in the name of research I’ll continue to play Skyrim for 7 hour bouts at a time.

(Here’s the article that puts the Lydia death vid into context for you. I can tell you were wondering: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/11/21/skyrim-lydia-death/)