[Game Design]Button’s Journey

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Button’s Journey is an adventure game using Kinect 2.0. The goal of the project was to create a game that could tell a story within 2 weeks, and the experience we would like to deliver is a love story in which one button struggles his way back to reunion with his lover. In order to finish the project within time limit, we decided to implement a short story to make the project in scale. Here are some design decisions that I participated in making.

1. How to control movement.

Since Kinect can keep track of player body’s skeleton joints, we thought of the following 2 methods of controling the button.

The first one is holding up arms in one direction for steering, holding up both arms to move forward and bending knees to move backwards.

The second one is bending body sideways to turn, leaning forward to move forward and backward to move backward.



After some playtesting, we find out that without telling players about the controls, most of players will first hold up arms like the first method because it feels straightforward, like what players usually do when using traditional controllers — pressing left button to move left and right button to move right. As for the second method, players had hard times to figure it out without any hint, but most of them said they felt more like a button. In my opinion, in the second method, players could feel more like a button because unlike using traditional controllers in which people can only feel that synesthesia with the character they are controlling by observing the characters’ movements and remapping them with the fingers, the second method can enhance the connection between the player and the character by adding another layer, the physical movement, to it. When players can physically feel what they think their virtual characters are feeling, they are more convinced that virtual characters are extensions from themselves.

In the end, although the first method was more intuitive to traditional players, we chose the second method. Firstly, with players’ synesthesia with the button, it is more likely that they could feel the emotions that we designed in the experience, for example hope of reunion, surprise of being taken by the bird and etc. Secondly, I believe that since the physical movements of the players take more efforts, the second method can be better for players to understand the struggle of the button; it can help to strengthen the experience that we would like player to feel.

2. Adding a fan to enhance the synesthesia

In the second part of the game where the button is on the roof, in the game there are some air conditioners. Since I believe the stronger synesthesia the better, I decided to add a fan which was controller by DMX device to to the game; it can be triggered when the button is in front of the air conditioners. As a result, it turned out to be a good decision. In the final demo, the fan became a surprise for every player and it makes them feel more like a button. Furthermore, since the fan blows to the face of the players, it makes players pay more effort which helps to show the struggle.

3. Level design of the first level
4. Level design of the second level