Owl Prowl is a four-player competitive game. Each player controls an owl character and competes to collect the most mice before the time ends. This a collaborative effort between Lucien Huang, Aaron Lee, Vivian T. Lee, and myself.
Game designer, interaction designer, structural design and fabrication lead, and Arduino and C# programming in Unity.
Project Video: fall 2017
Our first look and feel prototype is constructed out of a cup with a head on the top. The owl controllers needed to have two elements: a potentiometer to control the direction of the game owls, and a switch to launch the owls to their next position. Originally, we wanted to adopt "flip-dots" into the project for the owl's eyes. However, we abandoned the idea in the final product because we could not find a purpose for them other than aesthetics. The potentiometer is located beneath the head of the owl, and is essentially the neck.. Inside the podium, where the owl sits, is the switch that launches the owl.
First step in the owl fabrication is to create the actual plushies themselves. The owls are made using up-cycled and unwanted materials, with each of the four owls' has each of their own patterns. In using different materials for each owl, players' will be able to distinguish their owl from others. whiles playing the game.
Initially, we wanted to make our own potentiometers. Potentiometers operate by laying two pieces on top of each other. One side has conductive ink laid down in a radial pattern. The piece on top also has conductive ink, which acts as a needle. The owl's heads are attached to the top piece. When the player turns the owl's head, it also turns the potentiometer, changing the owls direction. We quickly abandoned handmade potentiometers. Through playtesting, we found that handmade potentiometers were unreliable, often giving off random and unusable values. Instead, we switched over to regular potentiometers, situating them in the same manner.
Initially, we thought the switch would be located inside the podium that the owls sit on top of. However, we decided to make the switches sit inside the bellies of the owls. We found that having the switch in the bellies allowed for a more fluid motion and play movement. When players are playing the game, they tend to hold the owls' bodies with one hand, with the other on the head. In placing the switch in the belly, players do not have to take their hands off the owls to launch them, they can just squeeze the bellies without moving their hands.
I was in charge of creating the structure for the game. The structure was important to the game experience because of the way we wanted players to view the game. The setup of the game was a very conscious decision. We did not want the players to sit in front of a screen. We wanted the experience to feel more immersive and less detached. Our solution was to have a table-like structure where players each occupy a corner. In order to do this, we need to project the game, but it had to be rear-projected so that players heads do not block the projections. The sides were closed off to preserve the integrity of the projection. Lastly, Vivian created illustrations of the four characters for the sides of the structure.
Once the plushies were made, and switches were in place, I soldered everything together with Vivian. Each of the owls had their own sets of wires for their pressure sensor and potentiometer. It was pertinent that these wires had to be kept separate and neat to ensure the owls functioned properly. Once everything was soldered, I bolted the owls to the their respective corners. Lastly, the software. Lucien built the game's foundation, while Aaron and I refined it.
INSTALL and final display
Owl Prowl was installed at Babycastles for a week from December 8 to December 15 2017. Below is the team (from left to right) myself, Aaron, Vivian, and Lucien.