"Wall Mounted Level" is a cooperative mixed-reality game that leverages both digital and physical interactions using a variety of technologies including projection mapping and a microprocessor that detects touch between players. In it, players control their digitally projected characters navigating them across a relief sculpture as they collaborate towards a shared goal: reaching one another. Each player controls their own joystick that allows their projected character to move left and right, while the shared act of touch results in the characters moving up and down ladders and in between floors throughout the cityscape.
I designed this vertical movement to act upon both characters at the same time so that special care must be taken to ensure neither one is put in harms way as AI obstacles continuously move throughout the game. For example, while I might need to move my character up a ladder to avoid an obstacle heading in my direction, touching the second player may inadvertently send them downstairs to a location that is even more perilous. These mechanics were specifically designed to amplify the need for players to physically and verbally collaborate with one another. In addition to designing the mechanics, I also designed the layout of the level and the placement of AI to create puzzles that required players to touch at specific locations and moments in time. These puzzles helped illuminate the physical act of touch and its impact on successfully navigating the environment through collaborative problem solving.
All of the digital elements in "Wall Mounted Level" are projected using projection mapping and other compositing techniques through the software Isadora. As characters move through interior spaces, I mask them by projecting black pixels onto a sorting layer in front of them. At the same time, windows and doors light up in a sorting layer behind the characters to indicate which building they are currently located in. This helped players keep track of their own location as they freely moved throughout the level.
In “Wall Mounted Level’, knowing the position of the other player (your goal) is just as important as knowing where your own character is. I decided to connect the characters visually with a digital ‘string’ that also turns red when either one of them touches an obstacle. Tethering characters to one another also reinforced the underlying narrative of connectedness while prompting deeper collaboration between the players through touch. Other strategies used to help players navigate the environment include roaming NPC’s (non-player characters) that describe the overall flow of the level as well as 'power-ups' that give the characters health back that may have been lost when touching an obstacle. If either character collides with too many obstacles while in pursuit of the other, the game ends and must be restarted from the beginning.
Voice Acting and Improvisation
Children playing "Wall Mounted Level" at the Montreal Independent Games Festival, 2017.
Players touching hands on the left, as their projected characters on the right move between floors in pursuit of one another in the maze-like city
Players playing "Wall Mounted Level" at HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) in Orlando, FL, 2017.