Wednesday 28 June 2017

Homunculus - Lyst Summit 2017

Earlier in the month I was at Lyst Summit in Copenhagen. While I was there I worked on a playful performance called Being There, which I’ve talked about in an earlier blog post.

At the same time, this happened…

I say “happened,” because unlike the other games made during the weekend, Homunculus emerged practically fully-formed.

The rules of Homunculus are simple. A participant dons a morphsuit and becomes the homunculus. The player closes their eyes, while a volunteer chooses a “pleasure point” on the homunculus - a hand or an elbow, for example, or an ear. All other parts of the homunculus’ body are “pain points.” I call this “programming” the homunculus.

The player opens their eyes, and must find the pleasure point by touching bits of the homunculus’ body. The homunculus must, through physical movement alone, convey whether the point they have touched is a pleasure point or a pain point.

As you can hopefully see from the video the experience is both awkward and hilarious! Witness, for example, Sabine Harrer (PhD student and member of Copenhagen Game Collective) in stitches watching a player grope around for a pleasure point on a homunculus’ belly.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Being There: An Interactive Performance for Lyst Summit

A couple of weekends ago I flew to Copenhagen to take part in Lyst Summit, a symposium and game jam about love, sex and romance in video games. During the event roughly forty creatives from disciplines inside and outside games collaborated to make experimental games and playful experiences.

I teamed up with Maya Magnat, a performance artist from Tel Aviv, and Anders Børup, a sound designer from Copenhagen, to create Being There - an audio-led role-play for two people.

About Being There

Being There is played by two participants, who each take a headset loaded with an audio track. The two participants start the audio at the same time, and have to follow the actions described to them by the audio. The two tracks start similar, but over time the perspective offered by the two narrators changes. One participant’s view of the events will become increasingly different to the other’s.

The story that participants act out is the story of a relationship from first date to break-up.

If you want to try the prototype version we made during Lyst, the mp3 files are below for you to download and try out. And below them, a bit of an explanation and discussion of the process, if you don’t mind the magic being spoiled!

You will need to hug, hold hands, and have your phone on you to take a photo with.

Download: Participant A
Download: Participant B

The voices are provided by myself, and by writer Jordan Erica Webber.

Monday 5 June 2017

How Sonic the Hedgehog Uses Colour

There’s a lot of excellent use of colour in the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game on Sega Mega Drive.

Visual readability has been a personal bugbear throughout my time in video games. There’s been some cases where I’ve been really happy with the choices I’ve made, and others where I feel I could have done much better. From my point of view, visual design is only partly about making things look pretty. It is primarily about conveying information that the player needs in order to interact.

Where are the key objects in the scene? What do they do? What can I interact with? How can I interact with it? What is my goal? What should I aim to avoid? Once those questions have been answered, then the developer is free to answer the question “how should I feel about this scene?”

The original Sonic the Hedgehog is visually outstanding not just because it presents landscapes that feel rich, vivid and fleshed out, but also because it has a very strong grasp on delivering key information. I’ve always admired, for example, the fact that Sonic when rolling is the exact same shape as his hit-box

Sonic the Hedgehog conveys its information not just through the shape and form of its visual elements, but also by its use of colour. That’s what makes it an exciting example I want to explore in this article.