Playing with magnets – Magnetize Me

Not so long ago, most of us went to The Exile Game Jam. Well, we were hosting it after all. It is the bestest game jam of them all. I had brought some whiskey, a western board/card game (Bang!) and some magnets (yes, ol’ school magnets) and was all set. I wanted to create a game around at least one of those items (and at least use one of them for the idea generation. Whiskey proved to be good for that!). I was in a great group together with Amani Naseem, and we didn’t just end up making one game, we made two. One of them was fun, the other one was seriously fun! Here is a little preliminary video of the seriously fun game:

I had recently found out that the Playstation Move Controllers have a magnetometer in them! In other words: PS Move Controllers can detect magnetic fields.

I quickly bought some strong rare-earth magnets called neodymium magnets to take to Exile. I thought the stronger the better. Playing with strong magnets is really a lot of fun. I recommend anyone to buy some of these. Hours have gone by, just pretending to have telekinesis, while the magnet beneath the table is doing its “magic”.

The magnets were an interesting creative challenge with it’s own constraints. The nature of magnets immediately led to ideas revolving around “charging”. The controllers are able to detect if a magnet is close, but not well enough for granularity (not really, just a bit). We decided to go with a binary approach. We ended up making an anti-running game and a dancing game.

The idea for the dancing game was partly inspired by a prototype we had just playtested – a game for the Wii U by our friends at KnapNok Games called “Spin the Bottle“. We tried a game mode “waltz” where you have to “dance” and balance a Wii Remote between you and your partners cheeks. (I don’t think this game mode will be in the final game, but that’s another story). It got us thinking about dance, and physically connecting people as a game mechanic. It fitted perfectly with the constraints of the magnets and of course my interest in fun physical party games. When Lena (another one from my group) and Amani demonstrated the first idea to me (I was busy tweaking Bocce Grandad, and just a couple of hours before deadline) I knew I had to throw all my energy into implementing it!

The anti-running game – Bocce Grandad – is actually a racing game, where you are not allowed to run. You have to be slow, but fastest. Read the description bellow.

The dancing game – MagnetizeMe – is a dancing game meets Twister. Read the description below.

Bocce Grandad
In Bocce Granddad you are two old people on vacation racing to the, let’s say, buffet. You’re really old and not able to move fast and occasionally have to recharge your energy.

This is symbolized by a Bocce ball (Petanque in Italian) with magnets stuck to them. You will take the ball up to the Move Controller and “recharge”. The light will now glow. You then throw the ball Bocce-style and have to run over to it to recharge again. The faster you move, the faster you lose energy! So it is a game of balancing how far you throw the ball compared to how much you move. A lot of time was used on balancing this game, and it is kinda hard to understand for a new player. But when you get it, it is fun to play.

Magnetize Me
Magnetize me is a two player game where one player is mounted with 2-5 Move Controllers and the other player with 2 magnets. One “blue” magnet and one “yellow” magnet. The magnets and move controllers will be mounted however possible (initially we used duct tape. Now we’ve made some nice straps for them 😀 ) and on different body parts (it is up to the players how “erotic” it should be). When the game is on, a random Move Controller will light up in either blue or yellow showing which magnet to be connect that controller to. The players must then keep that controller and magnet close together while dancing to the beat. The more you dance (move to the beat), the higher the score. This however, also makes it more difficult! And fun!

The mechanic of having to be close together and dancing is a lot of fun. We’re happy with the outcome (thanks KnapNok guys for inspiration) and really happy with the music that Morten Mygind did for us, in only one hour just before the deadline of the game jam! However, we managed to pull through, (building on top of the code I had already made for Bocce Grandad) and since then have had a lot of fun playing it at various parties.

If you’re joining the Nordic Game Jam, then drop in at the pre-party. We’re hosting that party, and will show a lot of games. MagnetizeMe as one of them.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

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