Round 5: It’s Show Time
Development Time: 4 weeks
Platform: Nintendo WiiMote
Download Resonance

In this final round, all the project teams were gearing up for the BVW Show which is the final culmination and celebration of our first semester at the ETC. The theme for this round is to go big and create a spectacle that an audience could enjoy. All worlds from this round are automatically entered into the selection process for choosing worlds for the show and all previous worlds can be submitted for review. In addition to the 4 week development time, more time than any previous project, we could also pitch an idea with a chosen group instead of being randomly assigned to a group. I wanted to explore a game about sensation and perception so I pitched my idea to classmates and formed a team around that principle.

We started by researching the types of perception we could manipulate within the game and performed several physical prototypes. The most successful prototype was a maze of chairs we made in our main lecture room, and we navigated the maze with our eyes closed and a cane to guide us. We liked the concept of continuously pinging the environment for feedback about the surrounding objects. When we spoke with our advisers about this concept, they suggested building our world for naive users. This led us on a path to figure out if we could design challenges in which two people with different senses, namely one deaf and the other blind, would have to communicate with each other to overcome said challenges. This pursuit would later prove to be too challenging for our time frame.

Following this thread, we watched the movie “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” to get a better sense of how two people, one deaf and one blind, could communicate and interact. We also discussed cooperative mechanics at length, such as the largely silent communication in the cooperative mode of Portal 2. After almost two weeks of iterating and reiterating on this concept, we couldn’t find a solid communication or interaction scheme that was balanced for both players and the information that each one could obtain. Furthermore, our story was an amalgam of bits from each of our iterations and it started to weigh us down.

We paused development to take a hard look at our project. We were frustrated because we had a strong team but we felt that we were overscoped. Out of this meeting, we condensed our experience around the cane mechanic. We abandoned our previous complications, namely the second, deaf character and the irrelevant back story, and pursued a design concentrated on this mechanic.

We abstracted the experience of being blind and obtaining feedback from hitting objects. I proposed a new design for the game in which hitting objects revealed them briefly before they faded back to black. I sketched level layouts and proposed various mechanics for a first person blind experience while our programmer, Mike Lee, fully integrated the Wii MotionPlus WiiMote with Unity. Filled with anxious fervor, we had just over one week to go and we were going in a completely new direction. We favored polishing our main cane mechanic over adding more mechanics so our final levels taught simple concepts to orient the guest to the world.

Although our project was not a spectacle for an audience it was well received and we were encouraged to continue development because it is such an engaging experience. If you would like to play Resonance, you can Download Resonance Here

My team:
Mike Lee / Programming
Anthony Hildebrand / Sound
Jennifer Sheu / Models