Note: This project was first shown at the ITP Winter Show 2008.
Project Run Away
Project Run Away is an interactive story where you are the main character. Your assistant shows you an embarrassing photo that was published in a recent magazine and informs you that the paparazzi have staked out your building hoping to capture another humiliating image. As he distracts the gathered media outside your door, you race to the elevator and, with the help of the building’s residents, create a disguise that will allow you to escape unseen. But before they will help you, you’ve got to help them.
Project Run Away is primarily coded in the Processing environment along with serial communication with an Arduino microcontroller.
The purpose of this project is to try and create a new type of game interaction with a sense of physicality and presence. We constructed a five story building out of plexiglass. Each floor has a super bright LED in the back to illuminate it once it is unlocked through game play. There is an elevator button that uses an FSR corresponding to each floor next to the door, which is secured with Velcro and a plastic hinge.
Inside each floor is a piece of your disguise. In order to unlock the level and receive the element of the disguise, you first have to interact with the resident of the floor and complete a request. These requests range from exercising with an aerobics instructor to helping a painter complete his newest work. Only after you have put on the entire disguise will you be able to leave the building without being spotted.
The code is written in Processing and consists of mostly boolean variables and switch cases to ensure that the user progresses through the game and completes the milestones to move on. Each floor consists of four parts: an introductory video, an interaction, another video and the floor choice. The user cannot complete some floors until he or she first completes others. The user also cannot win the game without first visiting all of the floors, regardless of the order.
Observations & Research
The project is inspired by the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from my youth. You can go to any part of the story after completing each chapter, and it still makes sense. There have been many examples of this in the digital age, but most involve little interaction outside of clicking a button. The goal of this project is to make that interaction more meaningful for the user but maintain enough entertainment to keep other viewers engaged.
Aside from time constraints, the biggest challenge thus far is getting of the code to play nicely in Processing. Video is notoriously difficult to manipulate in this environment (many prefer Open FrameWorks or Jitter). Many hours were spent trying to get the video to simply play. All of the interactions work in their own sketches, but there is still some difficulty getting them to work in the main sketch.
Another challenge for a project like this is story boarding. Once the scenes were filmed, there wasn’t much room to make changes to accommodate construction or coding changes.
There is a physical replica of the building made out of plexiglass. Each floor has a two way mirror in front so that you cannot see what is inside. When the user completes the floor, a superbrite LED illuminates the contents, and the user can open the door and put it on. Next to each floor is an elevator button constructed of force sensors. The appropriate amount of force on these buttons moves the elevator to the corresponding floor.
There is a video camera that is used for image capture, sound and motion detection. There is also a monitor/computer used to execute the program.
More background information on the project’s creation is available here.
Play the Game
You can play a modified version of the game thanks to YouTube. Start here:
This project was a collaboration between Aaron Uhrmacher and Winslow Porter.