A multiplayer interactive experience that empowers children to turn their physical drawings into animated virtual objects, allowing them to be the active agent of a reimagined Chinese folktale.
Year: Sept 2015 - April 2016
Team: E-Go Studio, Beijing
Role: Interactive Developer & Designer
Deliverable: Interactive installation
The Magic Paintbrush is one of the most beloved Chinese folktales that tells the story of a kind young boy who loves to draw. One day, he's gifted a magic paintbrush with the power of turning whatever he draws into reality. So he started to help everyone in his village with his magic brush. Leveraging the power of computer vision and CG techniques, E-Go Studio was able to bring this tale to life with a digital twist. The E-Go Magic Paintbrush empowers children to turn their physical drawings into animated virtual objects, essentially allowing them to be the active agents of a reimagined narrative experience.
The recontextualized story revolves around an adventurous young boy who constantly finds himself in all sorts of trouble. As the story unfolds and problems start to crop up, children are encouraged to wield their 'magic power' by drawing different tools or things to bail him out. They first choose what they would like to draw, according to the presented scenarios. Then, a scanner will help convert their colored drawings into digitally live game objects that they can in turn interact with and see how they impact the virtual game world and the story. The game was designed as a series of chapters of stories, each with different themes and challenges, to maintain a sense of structured gameplay for older kids, while keeping the flexibility to accommodate younger children's whimsical and spontaneous open-ended play.
1. Provide opportunities for guests to play physical-digital games with an emphasis on games that they cannot play anywhere else.
2. Illustrate the purpose of play and how it connects us to others.
3. Draw connections between digital game playing and real-world skills, interactions, behaviors, and emotions.
4. Have fun!
Based on the exhibit initiative and after in-depth discussion within the exhibit design team, we prioritized the follwing design principles as the guiding experienctial criteria for my gaming creation.
The game should possess these qualities to align with exhibit goals: fun, joyful, social, inclusive, educational.
The game should employ unconventioal interfaces and interactions that are creative, intuitive, and immersive.
The game should bring out the unique voice of MSI and fit the varied needs of our internal teams.
To better understand the broader picture of the design context, I delved into relevant gaming community, experiential design principles and game design methodology, which kept me on track and also well informed on my design decisions.
Alt.Ctrl.GDC is an annual gaming event that showcases some of the most unique, offbeat, and innovative controllers in modern gaming.
Former digital experience director in Digital Kitchen, our exhibit leader is a strong advocate for Design For Belonging.
An iterative and agile game design approach was employed under the overall waterfall exhibit development process.
Classic analog and digital games are powerful hooks for evoking fun, communal and nostalgic feelings. Riffing off of these time-tested positive gaming memories, but with just a whimsical and clever twist, it's possible to create something brand new out of the familiar.
During brainstorming, I was drawn to the shared intuitiveness, simplicity, and sociability between Connect4, Arcade Basketball, and Candy Crush, each initially representing a different gaming context (party game, arcade game, and mobile game). A reimagined mash-up of their affordances exudes elements of pleasant surprise and seems to ensure a good time together.
Multiple prototypes were made and evolved in the iterative process to answer various core questions: Would the game be feasible, playable, and most importantly, experientially sensible and sustainable?
Physical challenges quickly emerged throughout the early prototyping process. The follwoing are some of the key learnings and solutions.
Varied materials, sizes, and colors of balls are tested to find out what is the best for prototype and gameplay. Red, green, blue, and yellow are the most stable colors to be registered. Vinyl balls prove best for throwing but wear out a prototype quickly, whereas foam balls feel a bit too lightweight but can be prototype-friendly.
Off-the-shelve modular frame structure from a toy set saves time and resources for fast prototyping. But they comed with certain joints that are limiting. I modeled and 3D printed the customized joints I wanted which futher expaned their flexibility to be able to build the structure I wanted.
Though mostly workable, the Adafruit color sensor comes with its own whims and quirks. Through trials and errors, I figured out an enclosure structure that can significantly stabilize its performance and improve consistency in color reading while also preventing violent direct contacts with coming balls. The enclosure was also measured, moldeled and 3D printed.
A modular structure is super beneficial for prototyping: I can quickly come up with structes of varied sizes and shapes and tweak and adjust as I see fit. They are also easy to assemble and dissemble, which proves very uesful especially when dedicated prototyping spaces are scarce on museum floor and the prototype need to be transported and installled from places to places.
"All game designs were perfect until they were playtested", said game designer Reiner Knizia. As soon as I had a guest-ready prototype, I reached out to our Guest Experience department and set up a team to help me facilitate playtest sessions and see how the game actually plays out. The following are some of the key questions we hope could be answered through playtesting.
To get the most out of the playtests, we laid out a detailed evaluation plan trying to capture questions we would like to explore.
I documented in-game observations and post-game interviews while other team members facilitated interactions with guests.
Afterwards, we compared and collated our notes, synthesized insights and learnings, and developed a plan regarding the next steps.
the educational component: how to get people think like a game designer?
flow theory. parameters. obstacles. cooperation and competition
"This could be an ever evolving prototype throughout the exhibit. I really like the idea of a facilitated interaction that gets people thinking like a game designer. If we co-designed a game with our guests that could be a lot of fun."
VP of Exhibitions, Museum of Science and Industry