Penguin Squad

Penguin Squad™ is a penguin-themed Tower Offense game where you assist your penguins in taking out dangerous enemy turrets. Games like Plants vs Zombies and Bloons TD brought the Tower Defense genre to a larger audience with their fun, whimsical characters and art. We hope to similarly expose a larger audience to an underrepresented genre: Tower Offense with simple, intuitive controls and a fun, lighthearted theme.

VR Innovations

One VR innovation is using rotational head tracking to move objects from the ‘tray’ to the game board. Simply move the crosshair over an object, tap the headset touchpad to pick it up, move the object (via head tracking) to the game board, and tap again to set it down. Object distance from the user is handled automatically via ray casting. This eliminates the need for distance adjustment via additional controls (like swiping the headset touchpad).

Our approach to a tray-based UI provides a strong UI paradigm that has been hinted at in other games like ‘Playhead’ and ‘Romans from Mars’ but not yet fully realized on the Gear VR.

Another UI-related feature in Penguin Squad is the context-sensitive crosshair. When the crosshair is over an object that can be moved, an open hand is displayed. When the object is picked up, the open hand becomes a closed hand. When the object is placed, the closed hand turns back into the default crosshair. Also, when the crosshair is over a direction switch, it turns into an arrow. This reminds the user that tapping the touchpad will toggle the control beneath the crosshair.

Gameplay

The goal is to destroy all turrets while minimizing damage to your penguins. Penguins inflict damage on adjacent turrets via pecking. Optimize your penguins’ path by toggling direction switches at path intersections. Cloak your penguins by moving fog from the tray to key path locations near dangerous turrets. Move ‘turret hacks’ from the tray to especially bothersome turrets, temporarily halting their attack on your penguins. Levels are completed by destroying all turrets. Levels are failed when all penguins perish.

Controls

Penguin Squad does not require a controller. Everything is controlled via head tracking (which positions the crosshair) and tapping the Gear VR’s touchpad. Objects are picked up by positioning the crosshair over the object and tapping the touchpad. Objects that are picked up are temporarily attached to the crosshair and moved via head tracking. Objects are put down by tapping the touchpad. Headphones are recommended as Penguin Squad includes music and sound effects.

Penguin Squad includes a few in-game dialogs, each with a single button. To press the button, position the crosshair anywhere over the dialog and tap the touchpad.

Please note you cannot put ‘fog’ and ‘turret hack’ powers back into the tray. Once they are picked up, they must be put down on the gameboard. Also, powers that are placed on the game board cannot be moved. They can only be placed once, so please choose the location carefully.

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