SUPERHYPERCUBE is a VR “first person puzzler” developed by my collective Kokoromi as a launch title for PlaystationVR. It features classic controls and intuitive shape-matching gameplay. To play, you control a group of cubes, rotating it to fit through a hole in a series of floating walls that are constantly moving toward you. Each time you fit through another wall without crashing, more cubes are added to your cluster. Head tracking is critical in the game – as your cluster of cubes gets bigger, you will need to lean around it to see the hole and quickly determine what rotations to make. Stay alive as long as possible, and add your high scores to the ranks of players around the world!
We worked on SUPERHYPERCUBE in some form or another since its invention as a retro-3D game for our GAMMA 256 event, which took place in autumn 2008. The full-color VR version, which pulls equally from Virtual Reality nostalgia and the Light and Space art movement, was begun in late 2013 and published in autumn 2016.
Trente pas entre terre et ciel is a 19-meter long cooperative/competitive marelle (hopscotch) for groups of two players, that I created with Oscar Barda (Them Games) for Joue le jeu, the extensive show of new games and playable installations at La Gaite lyrique in Paris, France.
Created specifically to the contours of an existing space, this physical game embodies the exhibition’s call for visitors to “play along” by turning hopscotch into an epic multiplayer athletic and social quest. This “mod” of a familiar single-player children’s game challenges visitors to re-imagine what games are and what they communicate.
At various moments, Trente pas asks pairs of players to interact with each other in different ways such as holding hands, or alternating their jumps. The game also prompts players to express themselves verbally, suggesting that a player should “complement your partner” and “encourage the other players.”
Our game orchestrates engagement with the adrenaline and heart-racing of sheer physical activity, as well as humorously off-balance and socially awkward situations.
Fabulous/Fabuleux, with Lynn Hughes and Alain Thibault, with Geoffrey Jones, is a physical interface game for public interior spaces. Using the soft “squisher” interface object which senses room location, directional movement, and pressure, players seek out “hotspots” in the room’s three dimensional space to solve “connect the dots” challenges. By connecting together these invisible hotspots, players reveal objects on screen which relate to a story of modern vanity based on the dark Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf.”
Creation of Fabulous/Fabuleux was supported by the Interstices group at Hexagram Institute for Research/Creation in Media Arts and Technologies, based in Montreal, Quebec. The work debuted at Oboro Centre in 2008 and was reprised at the Künstlerhaus in Vienna Austria as a part of the Paraflows festival of digital art and culture in 2010.
In the late 1990s, San Mateo-based Zowie Intertainment, one of two kids technology start-ups at Paul Allen’s Interval Research, developed and built the first generation of “connected toys” — what would later be called “Toys to Life” products. Redbeard’s Pirate Quest was a toy pirate ship which connected to your home PC. Using early RFID technology, it could track the motion of action figures and the ship’s mechanical parts (like the wheel at the ship’s helm, the deck hatch to the ship’s hold, and the telescope in the crow’s nest) to let kids control a pirate game on the screen.
Redbeard’s cast of characters: Ollie, Errol, Nica, Captain Redbeard, and the Duke of Bones
Zowie partnered with Austin-based Human Code to develop the game software that would be driven by this novel hardware interface, as well as for the companion product Ellie’s Enchanted Garden. As the Producer/Designer on the game software, I led a team of thirty-plus artists and developers and coordinated with Zowie’s creative and corporate teams to deliver an award-winning game for a completely new (and actively under development) hardware platform.
In less than a year, we developed the entire game: the intellectual property for the original world, the characters, the story, and the hardware-driven gameplay, all while having access only to a series of rough prototype versions of the toy ship controller itself.
Leading a team successfully (but not stresslessly) through one of the fastest and most technically challenging projects of my professional career was a formative experience for me.
Thanks to the strong concept and the strong collaboration between our two companies, Redbeard’s won numerous awards for technological and creative innovation, including:
The New Media INVISION Award 1999
An EMMA Electronic Multimedia Award
A TIMs Award from the Austin Area Multimedia Alliance 2000 (Texas Interactive Media Achievement Awards)
The Bologna New Media Prize for Excellence in Children’s Software