What motion control game development can teach us about Virtual Reality

Hi my name is Lau Korsgaard. I am a game designer involved with the Copenhagen Game Collective. Through the last five years I have been part of teams and projects that explored a wide range of the new interfaces for games, such as Wii Remotes, Balance Board, Dance Pad, Move Controllers, Kinect, Buzz buttons and heck, even our own custom hardware. This August I participated in IndieCade and Oculus Rift’s VRjam together with Sebbe Selvig and Simon Nielsen making the game Virtual Internet Hacker VR that took the first price and a 10,000 $ check among the invited developers. I would argue that lesson learned from years of development for motion controls can help us a lot in understanding development for virtual reality. I wouldn’t say that this perspective is the only way to make good virtual reality games, but I hope it will help nuance game developers understanding of what virtual reality can and cannot do.

Bring VR to Reality

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The Collective at Roskilde Festival

This year we’re going to Roskilde Festival to have fun and show some games.

We are going to show some of our games, while some of us are helping Invisible Playground with one of their more physical installation piece games; Giant Starfish Kraken, while some of us are helping out Die gute Fabrik of JS Joust fame with their games and installations (they have a game you play on trampolines!). We are looking forward to seeing the babycade being utilised for what it was intended and to show are physical games on it, together with some local multiplayer games. We are also showing our award winning “art game” Ervax to the festival audience. Going from high brow art exhibition to Roskilde Festival is going to be an interesting shift.

Besides our own games, we are also guest showcasing one of the Nordic Game Indie finalists’ local multiplayer game; the ever so funny Stikbold, which will be playable on the babycade with flying whale and all!

Where are all these shenanigans, you ask? Well, look for Game City, we will be in, and around that area.
Go inside and read about the games we’re bringing »

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.
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We’re going to the Maldives – Boat, water and island games

Read about the background of this trip here.

At our third day here we wanted to get to know the local culture more. We wanted to hear some local fairytales and folk stories. That’s why we arranged a get-together with some of the locals at a café on a Malé suburb – Villingili (it’s on another island, and you have to take a ferry to get there, but yes, it’s a “suburb”).

Telling stories to a crowd can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it. I remembered a classic danish parlour game that my friend Anders Børup taught me. It is a collaborative storytelling game where people take turns at saying a word that is attached to the current sentence and then it goes around in a circle. Anyone can always end the sentence by saying “full stop” instead of a word, which then changes the direction and begins a new sentence. It is best played fast and to a specific rhythm. This forces people to not over-think and makes it more silly and fun.

Here is a sentence we built that I really love. It’s a bit non-sensical and aaaalmost poetic:

“Malé is unpleasantly humid, yes, this will destroy mother earth if we want all the passionfruit all in one mouthful.”

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Urban Games Festivals; Puddle Peddler and the Idiot’s game

Last weekend we were at the PlayPublik festival in Berlin, hosted by the amazing Invisible Playground. It was a blast, and we got to showcase a new version of Idiots attack the Top Noodle! We also tried to showcase one of our new creations: The Puddle Peddler. I say “tried” because we just could not get it running. Like with any other technology; when you add layers of complexity, the risk of failure increases. But though we didn’t get to showcase it at this Festival, we are making it ‘sturdier’ for the next. Still, read the concept description; it’s quite an interesting game.
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Mind games; Idiots against the Top Noodle

Some weeks ago, a couple of us went to the exile game jam (that we are also hosting). There, we split up and worked on different projects that all came out quite well. I had previously met up with some interesting people from Copenhagen and pledged to make a game with them using their newly obtained Brain Wave Sensor (EEG device), the MindWave. I like thinking about video games in different ways; be it different game mechanics, aesthetics or in this case novel input devices. We felt like this input device had not been utilised very well for games. Until now ;-)
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UniMove – Unity Pro plugin + C# bindings for the PlayStation Move!

We just released UniMove – our Unity Pro plugin + C# bindings for the PlayStation Move controller. With full source code! Check it out on our project page.