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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Idiots Attack the Top Noodle

Some of us went to the Playpublik camp two weeks before and got the chance to Playtest the game and get feedback from a lot of other designers participating in the festival. Playtest of the Idiot’s game lasted almost TWO HOURS! and ended up as a huge brainstorm trial sessions of numerous permutations of the games central mechanic. It was very inspiring and informed the new version of the game, solving some of the issues we had already been struggling with. Thanks PlayPublik!
The new version of the Idiot’s game addresses one of the biggest problems we had with the game. The problem was, that the Idiots did not have enough power in the game. Their game experience was short lived, e.g. when an Idiot died (if their head exploded), and the game took a while, they would need to wait for that duration. Now the Idiots have the possibility to get back into the game by regenerating. If they are still enough for a certain time, their heads will regrow and they are ready to continue the pursuit toward the brain. The Brain must now kill all the idiots before they regenerate to complete the game and see how many idiots he managed to kill in the process.

This addition to the game changes the dynamic and the flow of the game quite a bit; for the better. Now the feeling of being hunted and evading hordes of people and defending yourself by killing one by one (and still try to concentrate) is finally there. I would still at one point like to see this game with 20+ people!

Puddle Peddler

The Puddle Peddler is a musical bicycle that leaves puddles behind it for one or two players to step on. The players have to time their steps on the puddles so that musical notes are played at the correct time. The game is kind of a street version of Dance Dance Revolution meets a music-box meets a hopscotch field. See the concept drawing below, to get an idea of the game.

Concept Drawing of the Puddle Peddler game

I am pretty excited about the game and really wanted to show it and play it at Playpublik. But as Murphy predicted, everything went wrong. The whole setup is complicated and integrates different sub-elements that all need to work together in plenum. We have a bike trailer that has a water dispensing system with 4 valves, a pressure chamber for water, a gas flask with 8 bar pressure for the water chamber, tubes, wires and an arduino connecting it all. Then we have a RPM counter to tell the system the speed of the bike. This is important to sync the music (and the whole game) to the puddles. On top of this, we have foot tracking that also involves a complicated setup with a kinect on a stick and a custom tracking algorithm. Now, the RPM counter broke, the Kinect wouldn’t work in sunlight (doh!) and the game didn’t want to play the music.

Working on the Puddle Peddler during the festival (still with the hope to fix it)
Picture courtesy of Jacob La Cour

So, the team and I worked almost all of the festival trying to find and fix these problems, and hardly got to play any of the games there.

The funny thing is that it almost became a fad. We were working on some strange gadget and what it did was a bit of a mystery to most who passed by. All they could see was some kind a machine with tubes and wires sticking out of, connected with Kinect and a bike, and a guy working on it frantically or people pulling it from place to place. So people were starting to talk: “What do you think it is?”, “I don’t know, but it has to be good. He’s been working on it all weekend!”. When we then took the machine out to test, people were naturally interested. “Oh look, he’s taking the thing out to play”. With all that buzz, it’s really unfortunate that we could not play it at least once!

What is the take-away of the Puddle Peddler failure? Well, don’t bring something to a festival you haven’t tested and ‘bashed around’ fully before. Luckily the organizers were sweet and understanding, and we could showcase two other games some more instead. And I also managed to play Charge of the Rubber Ball Brigade, a war game mix of capture the flag and dodge-ball by Greg Trefry!

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Image credit: www.throughmyeyes.de – Merlin Nadj-Torma – phone +49-177-8279119 – merlin@throughmyeyes.de

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