Thursday, October 10, 2013

Atelier Challenge 5: Coffer Chase

Atelier Challenge 5: Coffer Chase
The following project/game is called Coffer Chase

The following people who created this game are:
Ton Candido and Marishka Zachariah

Project Logline:

Player must retrieve the "coffer" full of treasure located in the depths of Coffer Cove Island and escape the island fast as possible once the player gets the treasure.

Update: here's a video on the gameplay and complete setup.

Project Description:

The following project is an experimental game involving a webcam, a projector, opaque liquid (milk), interactivity of objects and people, and a Processing GUI that recognizes a colourful tracker.
The player controls a token, which is read as a ship on the processing GUI. The player can view both token and the layout of the game on the dish.
The player maneuvers the token by blowing on the token to advance the token. The player must control their breath in order to control the distance the boat goes. Each level is a labyrinth the player must advance through.  If the player loses all four lives, it's game over.

There are various items within the game that affect the gameplay:

Doors guard the entrance to the next level. They can only be unlocked with a key.

The boat must find the key to unlock the door.

Rum Barrel:
This is a power-up where the player gains an extra life.

The coffer or chest, is the player's objective, as the player must reach the coffer to advance the next level.

This is an object the player's ship must avoid while maneuvering through the level. If the boat hits the mace, they lose a life.

The last level is timed so not only must the player must retrieve the key to unlock the escape route, avoid hitting walls and the mace, but get out of the level as fast as possible.
Based on the cards we chose, the pirate/island/searching-for-treasure seemed most fitting, especially for a one-player type of game. Limitations on symbols also gave us some limitations on ideas (at first) but found that the set of cards that we finalized on made it easier to go with a ship-wrecked and search for treasure type of game.

 Intended audience: people who love interactive games that may have a similar concept to a game like Space Invaders but involves mechanics that keeps them active and gain a different experience with different controls.

Games with devices and peripherals like Kinect allow players to be more engaging not just with their game, but their environment. They not only develop increased dexterity but also increased awareness of their interaction with an object in real life that effects the game in real time

Exectutable/Download/Discovery Pathway:
There is no downloadable file: however, we the code used in Processing.

The following are Tom's notes:
On this game we used color tracking with Processing and a Web Cam. The basic principle is that Processing analyzes each pixel of the image of the camera and sees which ones have a color that matches the pre selected color. After that, the software tracks the color and projects the boat on the spot with that color.

In order to get the better contrast, we used a bright fluorescent pink color and had the software iGlasses to intensify the color, making the tracking more stable.

Part of the tracking code:

void Tracking () {
  // Before we begin searching, the "world record" for closest color is set to a high number that is easy for the first pixel to beat.
  float worldRecord = 500; 

  // Begin loop to walk through every pixel
  for (int x = 0; x < cam.width; x ++ ) {
    for (int y = 0; y < cam.height; y ++ ) {
      int loc = x + y*cam.width;
      // What is current color
      color currentColor = cam.pixels[loc];
      float r1 = red(currentColor);
      float g1 = green(currentColor);
      float b1 = blue(currentColor);
      float r2 = red(trackColor);
      float g2 = green(trackColor);
      float b2 = blue(trackColor);

      // Using euclidean distance to compare colors
      float d = dist(r1, g1, b1, r2, g2, b2); // We are using the dist( ) function to compare the current color with the color we are tracking.
      // If current color is more similar to tracked color than
      // closest color, save current location and current difference
      if (d < worldRecord) {
        worldRecord = d;
        closestX = x;
        closestY = y;


In order to have a maze, we used a Collision Map image that prevent the boat from getting out of the path. The collision map image is a blck and white file, in which the white color is the path and the black color is the place where the boat can't go.
Processing analyzes the pixels of the map and keep the boat in the maze.

  color black = color(0);
  color white = color(255);

  // go through each row in our collision map image
  for (int i = 0; i < colMapImage.width; i++) {
    // go through each column in our collision map image
    for (int j = 0; j < colMapImage.height; j++) {

      // get the color value of the pixel at our current position
      color c = colMapImage.get(i, j);
      // if the pixel is black
      if (c == black) {
        // we can't go there
        collisionMap[i][j] = false;
      // if it is white
      else if (c == white) {
        // it's good to go
        collisionMap[i][j] = true;

Both of the codes were founds at and the porcessing reference forum.

Development Notes:/Troubles
Ton and I were inspired by games that have been developed using an AR like Kinect. A good example of our inspiration is this game:
We were inspired by the dynamic of a player playing a game with water. None of us had a Kinect (nor did we want to fish out money for one) and decided to take similar mechanics from Ton’s solo game challenge using a projector, webcam, tracker and a dish full of water.
After some thought (and based on the fact that we had to stick to one symbol) we used the following cards:

Experimental Game
About Time
Involving Navigating
Regarding sustainability
Involving treasure
Involving a projector (wild card)

Using these cards, we formed out game into a labyrinth-like game where the player tries to collect the treasure but must escape the island once it receives the treasure before it’s too late.
It was simple enough to come up with an objective using an object that the processing GUI would track, but the main challenge was how to implement the most important mechanic in the game: moving the actual token/tracker in liquid.

At first we came up with the idea of moving the token with our hands. However, it seemed it would make the game too easy and tried to think of a better challenge.
Using a fan or something to create wind for the token to move came up, but thought it would cause too many ripples in the water and kept that aside for now.
Another obstacle that came up was the liquid to use in the game. The inspirational video used bath salts so we tried a bath bomb/bath ballistic at Lush. However, it did not produce the opacity required to view the game on a liquid surface.
The best solution was opting for milk, as it had the most opaque white surface that would project well.
To give more substance to this searching game, we considered many challenges:
We thought of sustaining the game during the game by having it so that it may sink in a matter of seconds/minutes and had to get it to the end of the level before it sinks. The player had three tries to salvage it but once it was used up, that was it. This mechanic was scrapped due to getting a little complicated.
We thought of using coins and have it so that the player can achieve a high score or complete a percentage of the game based on the amount of coins collected throughout all levels. We scrapped this in the end because based on timing; it was too much to add on top of coding a tracker.
We thought of having it challenging for players that if the token hit a wall, they lose a life and the level restarted. However, this also proved too much to code.
We finalized the mechanics to finding a key in the level that unlocks a door to the next level, having moving maces as an obstacle to avoid, and having a countdown timer at the last level when the player must “escape” the island.
Ton programmed the game and Marishka designed the levels and did most of the design work.
Programming-wise, the big challenge was getting a portable webcam calibrated enough to recognize the tracker. We experimented with various materials (pom-poms, film storage container) and found the best tracker was a black Bristol board with red string attached, as it was the most recognizable and the easiest to manoeuvre.

Design-wise, we first used illustrator to outline the levels. Marishka outlined where items should be place in the level (e.g. the door, the key, etc.). Both Illustrator and Photoshop were used to create the objects and levels for the game. We had to make sure that the levels and objects had no red colour in them or else the GUI would red more than just the tracker and would mess up the gameplay.
We started by making the pathway white to provide better contrast but opted for blue as the boat/token “sails” through its course/quest.

For the title of our game, we googled pirate glossary and discovered that Coffer meant a chest containing treasure. We went with Coffer Chase as alliteration tends to work well with titles as well as suited the context of our game.

For music, we used island-reggae type music to set a tone for the game.

Setting up the game was interesting as well. We used a shallow 28 × 45 cm dish and filled it halfway with milk. Using a clothes hanger, we placed the dish at the bottom and attached the projector and webcam* with tape. Their lens facing directly below the dish
*due to the poor webcam quality, we have used a laptop as well however it can be risky. The laptop running the GUI is nearby as everything is connected to the laptop.

Overall, the final product worked very well. The levels were clearly shown, and the tracker worked. Furthermore, the mechanic of  the player using their breath to move the token worked very well (Marishka and Ton play-tested this with a food container and there were barely any ripples).

Testing calibrating using another file
Materials used to set up the game. Pom-poms and string were tested as potential trackers.
Example of outline of a level indicating where objects were placed, the start and end of the level. This is level two of the game.
How we intended to set up the projector and dish.
original notes outlining a maze, and equipment required for game
this was one of our old ideas where the tracker/token eventually sinks over time and player is required to sustain it throughout the game.
Design notes for levels and objects used to advance level (e.g. key)
first level
second level
3rd level layout
placeholder for objects. At the time, we were still considering having coins in the game
designing the key in Photoshop CS6.

Future Directions:
Use a different liquid that won’t expire/go bad easily. We only experimented with one type of bath salt, so doing trial-and-error to see which bath salts produce the whitest consistency would cease us from wasting nutritional food.
It would also be interesting to include the mechanic /challenge of the token losing health/lives if it hits the wall. This will help players strategize their breadth control or at least be more pressured in doing so.
Having a high score factor would be nice especially if the game was presented professionally and make people more competitive with others and themselves by either collecting lots of coins or beating their escape time.
Use dramatic music when the timer starts.

Finally, using a Kinect would product much more of a variety of mechanics for players to use. For instance, we could introduce NPCs that players can kill by using their hands to form a “power up charge” and direct it at their target (see inspiration video above).

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