We’re going to the Maldives – The games

Read about the background of this trip here.

We got the move controllers water-proofed and were excited to try our underwater idea. We thought of having an underwater minefield of floating move controllers. If you touched one, a chain reaction would start, and you would hear sounds played from above the water.

Ready to get wet

However, as soon as the move controllers were submerged, just a bit, they stopped working. Apparently the Bluetooth signal from the controllers is not strong enough to send through water. The medium is of course tougher than air to propagate in, but we did not think this would be an issue. Apparently it is. There went all under water ideas!

Luckily we made two new findings.

  1. The move controllers float and work while floating
  2. They start working again as soon as they emerge from the water! (As long as they have not been under for more than 5 sec, where the built in hardware disconnect kicks in)

These two findings together we thought was really cool and could be turned around from a bug to a feature. We figured out that we could count for updates in the code, where no there was no activity from the controller. If the duration is longer than a prescribed threshold (for us 0.5 second), then the controller had been submerged.
This got us to think about the games in another way, and even though an under water game would have been beautiful and atmospheric to play, being above water is more fun, since you can communicate and interact more with the other players.

We made three water games in total. One is fully tested, but the other two need a bit more tweaking.

  1. Jelly Stomp
  2. Poisoned Sea
  3. Jelly Plop

Jelly Stomp

Is the simplest and works great. It is inspired by a game I used to play as a child called Balloon Dance (kids get a balloon tied to each foot and the one with a ballon left at the end wins. Start stomping!). We were first interested in plopping the controllers under the water with our hands, but soon found out that it was more fun to stomp on them!
It’s a game best played 2 against 2, but can also be all against all or 1 against 1, but 2 against 2 seams to work best. Each player gets a jellyfish which is tied to a long rope. The players must keep their jellyfish alive while stomping on the other team’s jellyfish. The jellyfish differ only slightly in color, and you shouldn’t stomp on your own or your partners jellyfish. The jellyfish have three lives.

Stomping around

Stomping around

There is a lot of running around in shallow water and splashing water everywhere. It is a lot of fun to play :)

Poisoned Sea

The business tycoon has bought an island he wants to turn into a resort. However, the water around the island is filled with poisonous jellyfish. The business tycoon wants to eradicate these sea creatures which are hostile to his tourists and thereby also to his business plan. A marine activist has learned of the business tycoon’s plans and wants to revive all the jellyfish.

Poisoned Sea is a game of tag, where one player plays the business tycoon while the other the other plays the activist. If the tycoon tags the activist, then the game ends since there is no one to protect the jellyfish. If the tycoon kills all the jellyfish, the activist loses too. A jellyfish is killed by agitating it (push it, slap it or shake it). Before it dies completely, it spreads out poisonous venom. After 30sec, while being poisonous, it dies completely. However, the activist being used to being around sea creatures has built immunity to poison and can hide in the poisoned area. When the jellyfish is submerged into the sea, it revives, but then the activist is vulnerable again.

It is an endless fight against the tycoon. However time is money, and if you hold your grounds as the activist for long enough, you win. Decide on what “long enough” is.

Jelly Plop

This game needs more exploration and play testing. Summer, where are you? The danish waters are far from as warm as the Maldivian sea.

The game resembles a water sport, and needs a referee. There are two teams that are defending their Jellyfish. They have three Jellyfish each, that are anchored in place in the water. Whenever one teams Jellyfish are dead at the same time, that team loses. However, you can reactivate your Jellyfish by holding it still for a set duration (which is hard when treading water). There is a single big ball you can use to bomb Jellyfish with, or you can swim over and plop them underwater. No touching each other!

Playing with drones

Besides making water games, we were also playing around with the AR.Drone. We had a lot of good ideas for game mechanics involving the drone. For instance, freezing the drone with a flashlight. We would be using different colored flashlights for different teams, for them to be able to take over the drone. To have it follow a glowing orb (read: move controller).
All the flashlight ideas went down the drain when we figured out that you cannot use the camera (especially the one at the bottom) to light into. It uses the camera for stabilizing. It was quite a remarkable sight to see it behave weirdly when a light was lit in it’s “eyes”. It started wobbling and evading the light. As if it had a life. Unfortunately, this was not a controllable behavior and was more or less random. Also, just flying the thing was unstable and hard to control. When you are making a physical game involving many players, then the drone has to be 100% stable. If there is a risk that it will fly into a player or if it just doesn’t do what it is supposed to, then the experience will not be good for the players. There is a lot of balancing in these games, and that is why the technology also has to be stable and reliable.

Victor Bedö inspecting the drones bottom to see what it’s problem is!

We did, however, create a funny game that will work better with more stable tech. For now, we played it with a human with an iPhone (as camera) functioning as the drone. I thought of making the drone into a hat this person could wear. The game is called the Fainting Goats. When we have developed it more, then we’ll write about it. For now, just know that it is about yelling at people playing drug smuggling goats, to make them “faint”.

While we worked on the drone game and water games, other designers focused on very different and interesting games. I will make a writeup of the other games in a later post.

4 Comments

  1. @pyjamads says:
    06 May 2013 at 10:44

    The water games look awesome, can’t wait to try them out… maybe we could ask in DGI byen, to try and play some of them in their swimming pools :)

  2. joon says:
    06 May 2013 at 22:22

    Thanks for these updates, they are supercool to read :). Did you learn any existing Male-folk games?

  3. Patrick says:
    07 May 2013 at 11:53

    Thanks :)

    We will try to get jelly stomp up and running at nordic game conference.
    There is a perfect paddling pool/fountain really close by.

  4. Patrick says:
    07 May 2013 at 11:55

    And yeah, we learned about a couple of Maldivian folk games, that we unfortunately didn’t have time to try. When we have, then we’ll write about them.

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