Star Catcher VR is a cooperative physical game where players with nets move around the universe catching falling stars from the glowing ceiling. With each star caught, a new star is added to a constellation in our sky.
Together, at Play NYC we built our own constellation filled night sky. These luminous Falling Stars have a romantic relationship with us on earth. Catching them has fun, playful, hopeful, and energetic effects.
Lead Design and Development: Adelle Lin and Matt Pinner
Music Composition and Interactive Audio: Kevin Doucette
Construction and Structural Support: Adina Shanholtz and Stellan Clark
Unity Advice and Playtesting: Mikey Cengija and Zach Ragozzino
Particle Effects: Peter Sistrom
Photography: Astrida Valigorsky
Event Support and Logistics: Andy Wallace, Kurt Bieg, and Playcrafting
Inspirations: NYCResistor Vectrex, DotDotDash Laser Drawing, Purity Ring Gems
Sharing an experience with multiple simultaneous participants creates an opportunity for spontaneous playful interactions
The #playnyc games conference asked us to fill their space with an interactive experience. Given the wide range of attendees at the event, we wanted to create a game with the simplest possible interface. Strongly reinforcing a physical interaction while mixing reality seemed the best way to give people an unexpected experience while making the game very accessible.
We invited our would-be participants to imagine an improbable reality and simulated it as best we. Simulating being outside during a meteor show creates a sense of wonder.
If we can give people a real net and create stars that react when caught be the net, we can create the feeling that stars are actually be caught by you. This action of catching falling stars is fun, when we believe we can really feel it.
Creating this interaction from the physical nets is no small feat. We used the latest vive positioning system and tightly controlled led animations in Unity to know when a net is in position for a star to be caught.
We then need to reward you for catching the stars. This key to the successfully encouraging people to believe our simulation and continue moving about the space.
When a star is caught you can hear the sound and see the change in color and led animations. A large projection against the wall mapped into the user’s space even shows a view of the nearby constellations and shows the stars returning home.
A very special thanks to our lovely friend and composer, Kevin Doucette. His willingness to discuss and design a soundscape around this notion opened up a lot of research and creativity. We worked on spatialized audio in Unity. Kevin's curiosity and knowledge encouraged us to dive deeper into understand our interaction programing star compositions and meaning.
We wanted to create a sense of awe and wonder like looking up at a night sky filled with stars. This made for some obvious challenges.
How do we build a lot of falling stars?
How far could they fall?
How do people know when one is falling and where?
Our initial idea involved warm white addressable leds and a ping pong ball. This made for a nice animation of falling and showed a pretty distinct star at the end. After a bit of turnign with the speeds and colors we were able to sync this up with a video projection in unity.
The virtual world also needed a design for stars. We found a few nice Unity assets and started building particle effects in PopcornFX