Tuesday 26 November 2013

Introducing Tap Happy Sabotage!

Anyone who was at my talk at GDC Europe this year may remember my closing remarks about the growth of touchscreen technology. That is, the physical growth as much as the commercial growth.

Touchscreen PCs as large as 27 inches are now available and they'd make an incredible environment for shared-screen multiplayer...

Well, now I've gone and made one.

It's called Tap Happy Sabotage! and it supports up to 52 players on one touch screen.

The game was designed for Intel's App Innovation Contest 2013, where it was selected as a finalist. Intel sent me the hardware (a Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27) to built it on, and I submitted it to the judges last week!

So what is Tap Happy Sabotage?

Tap Happy Sabotage! is all about getting physical, getting in each other's way, cheating and playing dirty. Every player has a target card to find, and also has a "sabotage" card which, when touched, will lose them every point they've earned.

Cards move around the screen in all kinds of patterns, so it's about spotting and grabbing your cards before anyone else can, and sabotaging your friends while they're in the lead.

There's all kinds of mix-ups and variations to keep you on your toes.

You may need to grab three of your cards at once (one tester managed to win this round by using two hands and his nose)

You may need to protect your card from an angry enemy bouncing across the screen (I got my revenge by pushing him into the path of the bad guy)

You might even have to dance around like a monkey and vote for who was the most entertaining (and there's nothing to stop you voting for yourself)

The whole game's designed to be the most awesome and unforgettable party experience I can conjure up. It supports as many players as you can fit around it, so it should be perfect for any time you have friends, family, or open-minded strangers around.

I'm planning to take the game, on the full-sized hardware, to as many events as possible, and am also planning a more widespread release for owners of giant touchscreens everywhere. More details on that to follow!

Update: 30th December 2013

I've put together a short video showing the game in action, which should give a feel for what it's about. Hopefully I'll be able to get more footage as I take it around to different events!

With the bigger physical space offered by the 27-inch screen, I was keen to build a game that allowed as many people to join in as can fit around it. The more players the more calamity! The game is all about using that space to its full potential - to get players moving around, and to make sure they collide as much as possible.

Touchscreen devices are magnificent spaces for social play. They're very immediate and tangible, meaning anyone can join in quickly and easily. They can get people to physically interact, getting in each other's way, pushing, shoving and even cheating. Not only does this create a bonding experience among friends, but it brings players' personalities to the forefront. People who are gentle and polite have a safe space to be rough or sneaky, and play is as much about surprising each other and making each other laugh as it is about winning (although winning does make for a great incentive to play!)

I've written about the possibilities of touch screens for physical social play on Gamasutra, and gave a talk about it at GDC Europe this year. 

In Tap Happy Sabotage each round is designed to push a different kind of player-player interaction: be it all players fighting over the same spot on the screen, or pushing each other into traps, grabbing the arms of the player in the lead so they cannot tap their card. There's always a reason to get in each other's way and always an opportunity to screw each other over!

The game is being developed first for Windows 8, before moving on to other platforms. I also have it running from an Asus T100 tablet on 23-inch touch monitor, pictured here, which is the setup I plan to take to events in the new year.