The effects of COVID-19 have been absolutely devastating on the world. Sacramento was hit extremely hard, and a lot of it was due to some people's ignorance of the potential effects that COVID-19 could have on the world. So we thought, why not create an experience so immersive that people CAN'T ignore the facts?
What it does
Our game is set in the future, where the virus still runs rampant. Although there were many vaccines being developed, the rate at which the virus was mutating was much faster than any modern technology could keep up with. All anyone could do now was hope for a miracle. That is, until one person had an idea: travel back in time, and prevent the virus from spreading in the first place.
Armed with a jetpack, mask launcher, and a seemingly infinite disinfectant spray bottle, our hero traveled back in time to the streets of Sacramento, with the sole mission of masking up everyone in sight and spraying every inch of the world down.
The goal of the game is to score as many points as possible by defeating the COVID zombies. However, when a zombie gets within 6 feet of you, you start taking damage, so don't let them overwhelm you.
We also have a special IMMERSION MASK that connects to the game over WiFi. Fitted with vibration motors on the left and right side, you could literally feel the coughs of the zombies hitting your mask, making you feel ever so grateful to have it on. The mask also has 2 bone conduction transducers on the left and right side, which are essentially speakers that vibrate your skull in order to transmit noise. They're completely safe, and make it so that you can only hear the zombies inside your head. After hearing the sounds for so long while playing the game, you're bound to start imagining the sounds of the zombies as you walk too close to people on the street, right?
The profits from the game and the Immersion Masks would be used to provide more PPE for healthcare workers in Sacramento, and hopefully help slow the spread of COVID as well.
How we built it
We built the entire game in Unity, from the game mechanics to the weapons themselves. We also used the Google Maps SDK to import the map of Sacramento into the game, so you actually spawn right outside of the capitol building. As you walk around in the game, the Google Maps SDK will build the streets of Sacramento around you, looking exactly as it does in the 3D view of Google Maps.
Here's the circuit diagram for the mask: Circuit Diagram
Challenges we ran into
There were a TON of challenges we ran into. None of us had ever made a game before (at least not in Unity), and we took this opportunity to learn while building. However, it's quite difficult to learn Unity for 3d in the span of a day and a half. We also originally had four team members, but that was no longer the case at the end. Had this been a normal in-person hackathon, I doubt a teammate would just walk out of the doors in the middle of the competition, but since everything is virtual, its very easy to just cut off communication.
We had a lot of trouble finding assets that were free to use in order to create models and textures for the game, which caused us to waste a ton of time. We also had to learn how to use Unity collaborate, which also took up some time.
Once we finally got started on building the game, the Google Maps SDK gave us a bunch of problems. The way the SDK works is that it creates meshes as soon as the game starts running. However, since all of the meshes were created after the game is running, none of them had colliders set up that would prevent the player from walking right through the buildings that were generated. It was painstakingly difficult to even texture them properly, let alone turn them into solid objects. It also messed with the floor textures that we created, causing the floor to look glitchy as well. We also didn't realize until after publishing the game that the Google Maps SDK is optimized for iOS and Android apps, not for WebGL games or PC/Mac, so you can't see any of the structures in the link.
I think a big problem was time management in our situation. We spent too much time learning and not enough time creating. We could've gotten a basic game done, but focused too much on the map itself, resulting in a lack of enemies to fight. It would've also helped if we didn't spend all night working, so that we didn't sleep past the couple of hours we had before the submission deadline.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're really proud that we even got the Google Maps SDK working in the first place. It might not be visible in the submission, but you could really see all of the buildings in Sacramento.
We're also really proud of the weapons we built. The mask launcher works pretty well, and the disinfectant spray is really fun and satisfying to use!
What we learned
Games are way more complicated to make than you would think. There are so many little intricacies you need to fix in order to make it all work. Also, a Hackathon probably isn't the place to be trying something new, unless you at least know the basics. Time is of the essence.
What's next for Mask or Die
I would love to take more time and actually build out the game the way we pictured it. I think it's a really cool concept, but something that requires a lot more time than just 2 days.