richard.wetzel's blog

Tidy City at You are GO

We will be giving a workshop for people about Tidy City at the upcoming street game festival "You are GO". The festival lasts from Friday, June 17th, until Sunday, June 19th, and takes place in Berlin. People will have the opportunity to both play the game as well as author new missions for it. The detailed programme is not up yet, but you can check out the festival website for some more information: http://invisibleplayground.com/#you-are-go

Student games

During the last winter semester we had 8 students developing mobile mixed reality games for Android. The students were divided into 3 groups and created three very different games. In total, we enjoyed playing all games very much and they all showcase different aspects of mobile mixed reality games. Let's have a look at each one:

Omerta - Welcome to the Family

Ashwin, Vivek and Simona took a story based approach and designed a game around a young man called Joe who joins the Mafia and has to work his way to the top. The narrative is told in cut scenes consisting of atmospheric photos and audio voiceovers. The gamplay consists of several distinct missions where the player might have to steal alcohol from a supermarket (by entering a real supermarket and scanning the barcode of the bottles), flirt via multiple-choice dialogues with his flame, assassinate an enemy with the help of the accelerometer or bring a wounded friend as quick as possible to a hideout. The game is GPS based and the player needs to walk (or sometimes run) the city center of Bonn in order to solve the missions.

What we liked about the game:

  • High production values (images, audio voiceovers, music)
  • strong narrative with twists and turns
  • interesting non-player characters
  • each mission had a unique feel to it due to different gameplay

Hide and Seek

Cristina and Kumar also went for a location-based game. The game has a time limit of 30 minutes and is played by two players. One of the players has the role of the seeker, which means he must try to find the other player (the hider) in the real world to end the game prematurely. Both players have access to a map view on which they can see coins they can collect. By picking up the coins they earn points but also special powers they can use to sabotage the other player like blacking out the screen, revealing the current position or playing a loud audio file.

 

What we liked about the game:

  • simple but entertaining basic concept
  • collection of coins give players a second important task besides the main one (hiding or seeking)
  • special powers are fun to use

ARBots

Simon and Dana created an augmented reality game. The player commands a team of three robots with different skills: fighter, scientist, medic. By commanding the robots the player has to destroy a portal that is guarded by enemy robots. As the player cannot attack the enemy herself direclty, she has to decide which robots to send where and when. The game is best played on an open ground and the player can select the difficulty level. The enemy robots are controlled by a simple AI.

What we liked about the game:

  • strategic thinking necessary to succeed in the game
  • different types of robots add right amount of complexity
  • technically very ambitious

ARBots was built with the DroidAR augmented reality framework and can be downloaded from there as well.

 

 

 

Report about Tidy City at ARDevCamp in Düsseldorf

We played a first version of Tidy City in Düsseldorf during the last ARDevCamp in November 2010. Our game designer, Michael Straeubig, was interviewed by Bubble Universe about his work and Augmented Reality games. Check our their video at http://www.3min.de/video/gaming/bubble-universe/planungspoker-und-konzeptarbeit/14/94/5548

Michael appears after 4:30min in the clip, and throughout the interview you can see short impressions from us playing Tidy City.

Report by one of our players

 One of our players in Waiblingen was media journalist Ulrike Langer. She runs a blog concerned with all things digital and has written a short (German) report about her experience that you can read here: http://medialdigital.de/2011/01/31/tidy-city-schnitzeljagd-in-der-mixed-reality/

She also included two short videos, one from the playing session and a post-game interview with me as you can see below.

 

English press release Tidy City

Mixed-reality scavenger hunt with a smartphone - just play or create one of your own

Cologne, a little mixed up: an architectural detail of a church building shows up on a smartphone near the right bank of the Rhine. It does not 'belong there', so it's an exciting challenge to identify it and to take it to its original location, maybe the famous cathedral. This is what the world looks like in Tidy City, a new location-based mixed reality game developed by Fraunhofer FIT for the latest generation of smartphones. Using a free authoring system, it is easy to create custom-designed games. A special Tidy City game version for Waiblingen was presented during the Local Journalism Forum held there on January 27.

 

In Tidy City, the players explore their neighborhood using a GPS-enabled Android smartphone. Symbols on a map on the display direct the players to a riddle, i.e. an object that must be 'tidied up' because it is shown in the wrong location. A part of a building or a bridge, a statue, but also a historical event tied to a location, might be a suitable object, represented in the game by a photo and a descriptive text. When the players believe to be right next to the object's original site, they can try to relocate the object to that location. GPS is used to check that the player is indeed in the correct position and has successfully solved the riddle.

Tidy City is being developed by Fraunhofer FIT and the French Carnot institute Telecom & Management SudParis. The work is part of the project "TOTEM – Theories and Tools for Distributed Authoring of Mobile Mixed Reality Games" which is funded by the German BMBF and the French ANR. Tidy City is based on an idea by the games designer Michael Sträubig.

"The TOTEM project investigates so called Mixed Reality games that merge the digital world of the game and the players' real environment in a number of different ways. We want to find out how such games should be designed, and how they influence the player's view of the world", explains the project coordinator Richard Wetzel from Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.

In addition to the game, the researchers developed an authoring system that not only experts, but even children can use. As local versions of the game can be downloaded directly to a smartphone, many cities will soon have their own local versions of Tidy City, the researchers hope.

Customized versions of Tidy City can be built around a wide variety of ideas, e.g. a quiz for visitors to a city, which directs them, in a playful style, to the prominent sights around the city. Special versions of Tidy City might also be created for trade fairs or other large-scale events, reflecting their specific themes.

 

Forum für Lokaljournalismus

Journalists playing Tidy City

Yesterday we gave a workshop at the "Forum für Lokaljournalismus" (Forum for local journalists). It is a nationwide event organized every year by the German Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Centre for political education) for journalists who are responsible for the "local" news. This year the main focus was aimed at new media and how the newspaper world is changed and affected by it, be it positively or negatively.

 

We presented the Tidy City mission that was created by local kids two weeks ago and played it with some of the journalists to give them an idea how mixed reality games and location services could be used in their context.

You can have a look at some of the pictures that they took during our game session at http://www.forum-lokaljournalismus2011.de/galerie.php?id=30

 

Press release Tidy City

Our German press release that was sent out today:

Mixed Reality Schnitzeljagd für das Handy zum Spielen und Selbstbauen

25. Januar 2011

Die Stadt ist in Unordnung geraten. Der Kölner Dom steht plötzlich auf der falschen Rheinseite. Schnell ist er eingepackt und wieder an den richtigen Ort transportiert. So stellt sich die Welt mit Tidy City dar, einem neuen ortsbasierten Mixed Reality Spiel. Fraunhofer FIT hat die digitale Schnitzeljagd für moderne Smartphones entwickelt. Am 27. Januar wird auf dem "Forum für Lokaljournalismus" in Waiblingen eine speziell auf den Ort zugeschnittene Spielversion gezeigt. Tidy City ist kostenlos verfügbar. Mit einem leicht handhabbaren Autorensystem kann man eigene Spiele für seinen Wohnort erstellen.

Ausgestattet mit einem Android-Mobiltelefon erkundet bei Tidy City der Spieler seine nähere Umgebung. Symbole auf einer Karte steuern ihn zu Objekten, die "aufgeräumt" werden müssen, weil sie sich nicht mehr am rechten Platz im Ort befinden. Dies können Gebäude, Marktplätze, Bäume, Brücken, Statuen aber auch historische Ereignisse sein. Die "verlegten" Objekte bestehen im Spiel aus einem Rätseltext und einem Foto. Glauben sich die Spieler an der richtigen Position, können sie versuchen, das Objekt dort zu platzieren. Mittels GPS wird überprüft, ob die Spieler richtig stehen.

map overview riddle view

Fraunhofer FIT entwickelt die digitale Schnitzeljagd zusammen mit dem französischen Carnot-Institut Telecom & Management SudParis im Rahmen des vom BMBF und ANR geförderten Forschungsprojekts "TOTEM – Theorien und Werkzeuge zum Gestalten mobiler Mixed Reality Spiele". Tidy City wurde von Spieldesigner Michael Sträubig konzipiert.

"Im Fokus des Projekts steht die Erforschung von so genannten Mixed Reality Spielen, bei denen die digitale Spielwelt und das reale Umfeld auf verschiedene Arten miteinander verschmolzen werden. Untersucht wird, wie solche Spiele gestaltet sein müssen, und wie sie den Blick auf die reale Welt verändern und beeinflussen.", erklärt Projektkoordinator Richard Wetzel vom Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT.

Zudem entwickeln die Forscher ein Autorensystem, mit dem die Erstellung solcher Spiele nicht länger Experten vorbehalten bleibt, sondern sogar von Kindern durchgeführt werden kann. Die verschiedenen Spielversionen können dann direkt über das Mobiltelefon ausgewählt werden. Auf diese Weise, so hoffen die Wissenschaftler, wird es schon bald viele Städte geben, für die es Tidy City Versionen gibt.

Tidy City bietet verschiedene Möglichkeiten, solche Szenarien thematisch zu gestalten. Denkbar ist etwa eine Rätselsammlung, die sich an Besucher einer Stadt richtet und diese auf spielerische Weise an Sehenswürdigkeiten vorbeiführt. Auch für Großereignisse wie Messen sind speziell angepasste Szenarien denkbar, die das Thema der Veranstaltung aufgreifen. Für Einwohner einer Stadt bietet sich mit dem Spiel aber auch die Gelegenheit, vorher unbekannte Orte kennenzulernen oder neu zu entdecken.

Im Zuge einer Zusammenarbeit mit dem Zeitungsverlag Waiblingen (ZVW) wurde kürzlich ein Szenario für Waiblingen bei Stuttgart erstellt. Spielautoren waren vier Kinder im Alter von 10 bis 12 Jahren. Dieses Szenario wird zum ersten Mal am 27. Januar 2011 auf dem "Forum für Lokaljournalismus" vorgestellt. Vom 12. – 20. März 2011 erhalten dann ortsansässige Familien die Gelegenheit, sich beim Zeitungsverlag die notwendigen Geräte auszuleihen und das Waiblinger Szenario zu spielen.

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