Building Virtual Worlds Round 2

Final presentations for our Round 2 projects have ended.  The theme this time was to design a game that even a naive guest could understand and use, and the platform my team got assigned was Kinect.

You can see the game that my team produced in my portfolio under “Games: Building Virtual Worlds.”

This was a very difficult round in terms of finalizing our game concept, but I really liked the result in the end.

Our group ran through multiple iterations of this game.  At first we made a music-creation game with pentatonic scale notes at various Kinect arm angles, and though it worked, we discovered quickly that it was still very hard to create a compelling piece of music unless one was a composer.  We also tried to have the various positions and gestures control random sounds on top of a base soundtrack, but we found that to be even more chaotic and dissonant at times.  All during this time, we were also trying to get random light and particle effects to occur with each of the different positions and gestures and this was just as difficult to read.

AT this point, we came away with a few key realizations:  We needed more game-like elements rather than simply “toy”-like effects; secondly, we needed to take the music out of the player’s control (being a musician is much harder than Guitar Hero had us believe); thirdly, we needed to unify the aesthetic/theme and scale back on all the excess nonsense.

What we finally settled on turned out particularly elegant.  You can see from the demo that it’s simply a “keep-it-up” game that encourages movement with “dance” and music as the background aesthetic.  In fact, the Kinect code tracks joint rotations without discriminating between dancing or spastic twitching.  It’s clean, it’s simple, and it works.

As to my contributions as 3D modeler. I had the dancer silhouette done very early.  I really liked the subtle personality that the disco-clothes flares gave our avatar.  The band members in the back did not come to be until we finally settled on our third and last iteration of the game.  We already had the abstract texture bars but realized that we needed a little more to give the player some emotional attachment to keeping the bars up and I decided that band members might just help.  I really had a lot of fun giving them different and crazier animations as the levels went up and I think everyone else who watches the game enjoys them as well.

All-in-all, one of the best games all semester.  Arnold Blinn from Microsoft’s Kinect Fun Labs liked it a lot when he stopped by as well.  Great work, team!

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