Visual design, physical computing, concept and narrative development, and soft-fabrication,
The game space is rear projected onto a flat surface at the top of the structure, with the project housed inside the structure. There are four owls, Hooty, Owliver, Barnardo, and Tawny. Each of these owls have their own designs, which correspond to each player.
Look and feel Prototype
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. Aaron made three of the the four heads, and I made the last head and owl's bodies.
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.
Dylan 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, I 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. 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, Dylan bolted the owls to the their respective corners. Lastly, the software. Yuchen built the game's foundation, while Dylan and Aaron refined it.
Owl Prowl was installed at Babycastles for a week from December 8 to December 15 2017. Below is the team (from left to right) Dylan, Aaron, me, and Yuchen.