Precedents

Technology

EyeToy
Sony, 2003
http://www.eyetoy.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EyeToy

The Eyetoy is a USB camera that plugs into a PS2 game system. Specially-designed games use computer vision to allow players to interact with games without a digital controller.

While this type of interaction is engaging and fun, the gameplay in Eyetoy games lacks the strategy and intellectual challenge of more popular videogames. Interaction in Eyetoy games is also limited to tracking motion. What I hope to do with this project is to use computer vision to track specific points and objects, and use the resulting data to augment physical elements other than the player. Whereas the Eyetoy utilizes the player’s “reflection” in its games, the physically-augment game will show no evidence that a camera is watching the pieces, thus better convincing the players that the pieces they are playing with have attributes and properties beyond their physical shape and position, which are the basic physical properties utilized in meatspace game interactions.

Sensetable
MIT Tangible Media Group, 2001
http://tangible.media.mit.edu/projects/sensetable/

The sensetable uses computer-vision to track the posisions of a number of physical elements that have digital “states” that can be modified by dials and buttons built onto the physical pieces. Digital projection displays information about the elements, and also interpolates related information.

This technology will be utilized to create a system to capture the physical positions of game pieces, which will then be augmented visually to make clear to players that the object exists in both physical and digital spaces.


Reactable
Music technology group, pompeu fabra university, 2005-2007
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR0IBdoPiho

The reactable provides a similar interaction-style to the sensetable, but also allows for sophisticated interaction of the physical elements such as rotation and grouping of elements to create and modify chains of related computation that correlate to audio feedback using a sophisticated visual control system. This system is built around a circular screen, with the primary interactive elements branching out from the centre of the table which could allow for multiple users to interact without bumping into one another.


full body games
feedtank, 2004
http://www.feedtank.com/fbg.html

Feedtank’s Full Body Games shows how computer vision can be used to create a gamespace that is played through movement in the physical world.

With the physically-augmented video game, the focus will be to keep the player’s character in a digital context, but to have the game’s physics and mechanics be influenced by objects in the real world.


Multi-Touch Interaction Research
Jeff Han, et al., 2006
http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/index.html

The Multi-Touch table research illustrates many different applications of the technology, including two games. The first is a two-player game where players drag letters around in a two-dimensional space in order to create words faster than the other player. The second game featured in the project’s video is a missile-command-type game where a single user uses two-hands to create a slingshot-type movement that can sling projectiles at incoming targets.

Factors of the system that affect the first game’s multi-player interactivity include the size of the table, and the ability of the system to detect and track the positions of several objects at a reasonably fast rate. The missle-command-type game interaction shown in the video seems to lack the excitement and tension of a really-fun game mechanic on its own, but the idea of extending the interaction to multiple players would create an interesting experience with a more complex mechanic that would hook players.


Magic Table
Franc?ois Be?rard, 2003
www.procams.org/procams2003/papers/berard.pdf

The Magic Table uses computer vision to augment creative meetings and extend the functionality of a whiteboard with real-time interactivity. Cameras capture images of what is placed on the board, and projectors feed the images back onto the table in digital form. Users manipulate these images, as well as handwritten text by moving a number of pucks around to denote where elements should be placed.

The magic table’s use of pucks will be similar to how the physically augmented game will detect the positions of physical elements to augment the gameplay. The main difference will be that the physically augmented game does not seek to use the movement of physical objects to replace conventional game input of digital pushbuttons. The physical manipulation will only modify the physics of the space that will remain primarily on the projected screen.

GAMEPLAY

Curling
The Scottish, ~1541
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling
http://www.worldcurlingtour.com/

Played by two teams sliding rocks down a rectangular sheet of ice in alternating turns. The goal is to have your rock closest to a bulls-eye at the end of 5 turns. By having several rocks closer to the button than the opposing team results in more points.

The alternating nature of the gameplay results in a stalemate if both teams are able to hit the button. The strategy in curling is to break this stalemate by leaving guard rocks in front so the other team cannot pass to knock out your rock. The fact that only one team can score in a given end (based on the closest-rock rule) creates binary, dynamic states for the rocks. That is to say, that rocks have the additional property of whether or not they are being counted, in addition to their position on the playfield. A large part of the computer-augmented game is to visualize this type of intangible ruleset to establish more feedback with not just players, but the audience as well.


Alien Hominid
Behemoth, 2002
http://www.alienhominid.com/

Alien Hominid’s mini-games illustrate simple, but fun interaction that give players a break from the longer narrative.

the physically augmented video game seeks to create an endlessly customizable mini-game that can become more or less complex based on how the players interact with the physical gamespace as well as how they choose to “meta-game” within the world they create for their digital characters.


Lemmings
DMA Design, 1991
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmings_%28video_game%29

Lemmings was the first game to popularize gameplay where the in-game characters were not directly controlled by the player, but are assigned deterministic settings that, when activated, affect the outcome of a level.

The way in which the Lemmings player assigns deterministic attributes to in-game elements will be reproduced in the physically-augmented game. However, where Lemmings uses this game mechanic as the sole influence for the outcome of a level, the physically-augmented game seeks to utilize it as a secondary interaction to support a more traditional video-game interaction.


Worms
Team17, 1994
Wikipedia Entry

Worms resembles Lemmings in its game elements, but it modifies the gameplay mechanic to become a turn-based strategy game. Players take turns controlling one of many team-members, which weild a number of projectile weapons. Players get one shot each, and their aim must take into account the wind and gravity of the level, which changes in between players’ turns.

This style of game offers two key mechanics that will be utilized by the physically-augmented game. One, the influence of basic physics on player control, and two, the turn-based nature of gameplay will be experimented with. Worms, and other turn-based computer games, show how the notion of turns, a staple of many non-computer games, can provide the basis for strategic gameplay (defensive/offensive play)

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