Breakball

What: Concept for a game played on public infoscreens and controlled by personal mobile phones

Where: University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany

When: Fall semester 2009/10

For the ‘mobile interaction design’ seminar of the fall semester 2009/2010 it was the goal to develop an application that would utilize common personal mobile devices as well as the public screens installed at the munich metro stations. Much to my delight (and without any persuasion on my part even though I was the only member of the group of the ‘game development’ pathway) the group decided that the application would be a game. Less to my delight (and despite a few suggestions and attempts at persuasion) the group also decided that it would be a version of the classic ‘breakout’ game. Ah, well. There is still some fun to be had developing a multiplayer breakout variant that is to be played at large screens at public metro stations.

My tasks were the development and documentation of the game mechanics, as well as the development of the interface for mobile phones and smartphones. The game was devised to be played on the large public screens of the munich metro stations, with the player controlling his paddle via his own mobile phone. Multiple players can play at the same screen simultaneously, and players can drop in and out of a game at any point. Upon registering a game account, a player is allocated to one of three teams (blue, red, and green). When logging into the game at any of the metro stations, the player would then play and collect points for his team, with the points for each team and the player’s individual contribution being recorded for each of the stations separately. The scores could be viewed online on a website set up for that purpose. That way, the players compete globally for domination of the individual metro stations, as well as playing for a personal ranking.

A mock up of the game being displayed at one of the public screens.

 

For the game’s visuals, the goal was to pick a theme that was related to the culture ofmunich. After an initial suggestion of using old-timey trams as paddles and oktoberfest booths as bricks, we eventually settled on bavarian culinary treats for the game objects.

An early idea for tram/oktoberfest themed visuals. The paddles are old munich trams, the bricks are oktoberfest booths, and the balls are plump oktoberfest attendees running between trams and the booths (inexplicably tearing them down).

The final visual theme, using traditional bavarian culinary treats such as prezels, beers, gingerbread hearts, and veal sausage as bricks and paddles. These visuals were created by Yanyan Xu.

At the end of the semester, we had a working prototype of the game as well as some of the infrastructure to connect and controll a pc application via mobile phone, including a working smartphone interface.