Motivation: simulating experience with multiple simultaneous participants

A project log for StAR CatchER VR

Star Catcher, a cooperative physical game. meteor showers in LED/VR . Players move around the universe catching falling .

mpinnermpinner 10/10/2017 at 05:280 Comments

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.