BVW Lightning Round

Lightning Round was nuts. And I’ve time to write this now because… You’ve guessed it, our platform(s) haven’t been confirm for this new round yet! Haha plus we have 3 weeks for Story Round. Which actually isn’t a lot of time, but whatever. Can afford to chill a bit first :P Anyway, I left off my previous post saying that we would either succeed or fail spectacularly, and I’m proud to say it’s the former (: Mostly. More on that later, but first, the video of our game during the presentation. Quality is crappy as we didn’t have enough time to record a proper one ):

My group’s first choice of platform was the Jam-O-Drum, a one-of-a-kind platform created by the ETC. We didn’t get it. We got the Makey Makey instead, which is this cool “invention kit” that allows you to convert any material with the slightest bit of conductivity into part of a circuit. That includes humans. And pencil graphite. And bananas LOL. And a whole lot of other things.

Makey Makey
Makey Makey
Photo credits: Makey Makey

However, because we didn’t get our first choice of platform, we had to throw away all our existing ideas, go back to the drawing board, and figure out how to build an awesome and fun experience in 5 days. Yup, it was as crazy as it sounds haha. It was past 10 at night when they released the platform bidding results, and my group was having a bit of a trouble coming up with ideas because we were all tired. We knew we wanted a really short and simple multiplayer game though.

In the end we came up with this crazy, sort of DDR x Twister kind of idea. Except that each “button” on the floor pad would be a fruit, and you had to collect the correct fruit to make a smoothie. And crash into each other while doing that XD Programming wise this seemed really simple, which was great, as we would have to make this floor pad from scratch ourselves.

Cross section of a button
Cross section of a button

Our floor pad has a really simple design – the base is a rubber mat, the buttons are acrylic squares with colour print outs of fruits on them and wrapped with carpet protection film. The buttons are held away from the base with strips of cut up rubber mat. Metal tape is used as the contacts on the underside of the button and top of the base. When a person steps on the button, the acrylic bends towards the base and the metal tape on either side will touch each other, completing the circuit. The best part about this was that we wouldn’t have to wire up the guests (like what all the other Makey Makey groups ended up doing), as we all felt that was super important for our experience.

Making the buttons
Making the buttons

I did some preliminary tests on a single acrylic square to make sure our design could work, before diving straight into it and wiring up everything. It was an awesome feeling when we brought the wired up floor pad to the Bullpen to test it out for the first time, and everything just worked so perfectly! And how our classmates all started gathering around and asking if they could play our game cause it looked so insane and fun with all that running and jumping around :D It was quite funny as a lot of them were like, are you sure this thing can take my weight, and we were like don’t worry, our floor pad is built to withstand people jumping on it and won’t break :P

All wired up!
All wired up! But not glued/taped down yet, so still movable.

I must say at this point that the thing about BVW is that even if you have a powerhouse team, if the team doesn’t have chemistry and can’t work well together, you’re almost guaranteed to do a bad job and get a crappy grade. I had an awesome team for Lightning Round, and we had a grand total of ZERO CONFLICTS throughout the round :O Ok well, a bit of conflict is good as it usually leads to better ideas, but still! It was really fun to work with them (:

We did have a few problems though. One of which was how I had to tank almost everything, as the other programmer’s girlfriend flew in to Pittsburgh from Friday to Monday, and it would be way too mean to not let him go off. That was just bad timing as we only had Thursday to Monday to make our game >< Building the prop and debugging our game took a lot longer than expected as well, and I’m sad to say that I was working on the programming part of our game up till the last half an hour. I accidentally missed out a couple of things, like triggering the sad character animations, which I feel horrible about because my artist put so much effort into them ):

But the most unfortunate of all was how one of our friends accidentally tripped over the wires in the RPIS (where we were presenting) after we had set everything up, ripping out the wires from half the floor pad. And that happened at the very last minute too, at almost midnight. We tried to salvaged as much as we could, but half the buttons now had trouble detecting when somebody stepped on it. Aside from taking apart the floor pad and rewiring everything (which wasn’t possible within that time frame since the buttons and wires were all secured to the base with a shit ton of hot glue and duct tape), there wasn’t much else we could do =x This kinda showed in our presentation, and we had so many comments about how the floor pad couldn’t detect people properly :'( The worst part was that I wanted to put all the wires and the Makey Makey in a box to organise and prevent stuff like this from happening, but didn’t have the time so skipped it in the end, which I really regret now ):

My awesome team + girlfriend who came down to help :D
My awesome team + girlfriend who came down to help :D

Overall, Lightning Round has been a fantastic experience even though I left school past midnight most days and was running purely on adrenaline by Monday night. I’m so glad we got the Makey Makey instead of the Jam-O-Drum – it was pretty clear during the presentation that the Makey Makey games were all crazier and possibly more engaging than the Jam-O-Drum ones. And I love our game so much that I told my group I would continue working on it after the round ended, even if they weren’t interested. And enter it in the ALT.CTRL.GDC competition/exhibition. Thankfully, they were all on board for that :P

So would I do this again? DEFINITELY :D Hahaha. AND NOW ON TO STORY ROUND! :D

♥ sarrie


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