Ariliphe is a proof of concept for an experimental game that combines 3D audio with Leap Motion hand controls in a low visual environment.
Teammates Caitlin and Ari started brainstorming for Swamphacks a few days before the competition. Ari is experienced in 3D web audio and wanted to implement 3D audio for a game. Caitlin is a UI/UX designer for games, and immediately thought of combining the motion sensor Leap.
The game narrative was first a blind ninja, then an underground mole, but the team settled on the dark web a spooky place all the hackers could really relate to. Kyle, Matthew, and Paula jumped on board shortly after and killed it on implementation. None of the team members had experience in Unreal or Leap Motion prior to the event.
And the team lived happily ever after.
Significance of Game
Game Designers use the same verbs in most games to approach problems. You have an enemy, you hit it, kick it, or jump on it. Using hardware like the Leap allows designers to explore new verbs like reaching or cherry picking to solve the same problems.
The idea of Ariliphe was to deprive the user of the most dominant sense, sight. Allowing the user to explore the sense of touch and heightened sound.
How we built it
Kyle and Matthew worked out the major mechanics in Unreal engine using a community plugin for Leap. More info about the plugin used.
We used Unreal 4.10.2, and Leap v2.3.1.
Challenges and Solutions
Learning Curve! One of the greatest challenges was the learning curve using Unreal and Leap for the first time. Leap does lacks a large community for support, making it a tricky hardware to get off the ground.
Kyle and Ari discovered a better way to implement the 3D audio! Since the Leap motion is limited to tracking hand movements, moving a character in 3D space was very challenging without overwhelming the user in controls. The boys innovated a last minute level design that replaced the former by moving the objects on a rotating wheel in 3D space to give the user the best 3D audio experience.
Collision with Leap Motion Mesh Plugin! Paula and Matt spent the wee hours of the morning working on the end Boss fight (against the Trojans) for the game. For our team collision with the Mesh provided by the Leap Plugin used proved to be difficult and inaccurate. They are still working on a solution to make it more accurate and functional.
UX Design Caitlin has designed simulations with VR, but Leap was an entirely new challenge. She spent time researching UX for Leap and quickly realized that Leap motions limited controls actually constrained the player just as much as traditional controllers. The team brain stormed to design challenges that used simple and easily learned motions to help with this design problem.
OBTAINING A LEAP! In fact, one of the Leap controllers overheated and died during the Hack (don't worry not your Leap's MLH). Thankfully to our delight Leap controllers were available to check out at the event.
Text Level: The game drops you into a world with a 2D RPG style text adventure. This level was included to establish the overall narrative and characters.
Sandbox Level: As designers we assumed that the end user will have little interaction with Leap before playing this game. So the first level introduces the user to open hand controls in a 3D space.
Training Level: Allow the user to recognize audio cues and corresponding actions. Since the Sandbox level introduced the user to the motion controls, this level focuses on teaching the player how to carefully listen to 3D audio without visual feedback.
Pinpad Level: This is a puzzle designed to allow users to auditorially and spatially solve a puzzle. It uses a sequence of sounds that the user must repeat to continue to the next level.
Boss Level: We wanted to really explore the power in 3D audio, so the boss fight is held with the user completely blinded. The user has the ability to listen and swipe for defense.
Unique mechanic: Heartbeat health: Since there is no GUI, the health is relayed in the form of a audio heartbeat.
Big thanks to the Major League Hacking for lending us 4 Leap motions to use during the event! Thanks for all the love and support Swamphacks team.