Flux started with a conversation on an OC Transpo bus ride home from Carleton University in April 2012, Jahfer and I were talking in the back of the bus about how there was a massive disconnect between phones/tablets and immersive video games.
By the end of the bus ride we had raised the question "Wouldn't it be cool if you could use your smartphone like a game pad?" We thought that it would be pretty amazing, if the base of our project was that anyone with a smart phone could just show up and play.
Flux is an interactive installation that connects with players through their mobile devices. These devices become controllers that bend and warp a grid to move objects around four sides of a cube. Simple, geometric graphics and an original soundtrack welcome players into a rich and engaging world of collaborative and spontaneous gameplay.
Interaction in flux takes place using any kind of phone/tablet with a modern mobile browser. Players, once signed in use their phone or tablet as a trackpad to move and warp a grid no the surface of the cube. This controlled the position of a collector which pulled in resources. In addition to the trackpad, players could also tap to attack nearby enemies, and create wormholes to travel from one side of the cube to another. Although the majority of players used iPhones, it worked just as well on Android, thanks to Sencha.
The goal of flux is to warp and pinch the grid to protect your collector. This grid controls how objects move. Players can pinch to create valleys in the grid which collectors and enemies flow into, or bloat to create hills, which will cause objects to flow away. Players can also create wormholes by pinching excessively, which can be used to launch objects from one side of the cube to another. This introduced really fun gameplay where players could be seen running around the room trying to reach the other side of the cube, chasing their collector.
Players can either work independently or merge their collectors together and work as a team. There are benefits of working alone, such as the ability to have greater control over how your collector moves. By combining with another team you also raise the possibility of gaining more points.
Players could drop in and drop out at any point, and the game was scaled from 2 players to infinity and beyond. In actuality we only tested up to about 10 players.
I had the opportunity to lead the physical setup design for this project, it was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Although Paul and I were in charge of the physical setup, it really was a group effort, and it showed when all the pieces came together on fair day. Being able to work in a tangible medium was a nice change from designing, and coding.
We iterated through many versions of how the projection would work, and what surface it would be projected upon. In addition, the projected space began as a 4 sided pyramid, but ended up as tall rectangular prism.
Here are some of the cool features we were able to build into the physical setup side of the project:
When designing the audio for Flux, I wanted to create sounds that would complement rather than compete with the visuals. Although the audio is designed to be ambient, it is also changes and builds telling a story. The audio was designed in Ableton Live with the majority of audio being created through midi, but also used live recorded guitar.
With the website I really wanted to emphasize how this project is different, through the game mechanics, technology and physical setup. I wanted to push the boundaries of CSS, and with that theme decided to create a full CSS 3D recreation of our physical setup. You’ll need a modern browser, but it’s worth checking out. It also features a pretty cool breakdown of our team. Check out the website right here.
This was a really awesome project to be a part of thanks to Jahfer, Kyle, Matt, Paul and Stacie. It was was an honour to work with such a talented group of folks. This project wouldn't have been possible without all of the support from family and friends. Thank you.