Tag «exhibition»

Really Good Buttons, But Not Really Good Presentation

RGB - Richtig Gute Buttons / Really Good Buttons - was an experiment. Last year at the same time, for the Annual Exhibition at the Designhaus Halle (the start-up incubator where our office is), we made a game that was pretty much a single-button-game with a fun premise (you control the game with high fives). So for the event this year we thought we should do another “easy to grasp and play” project.

High Five Romance Race

So while the game idea wasn’t very clear yet - just that you have to push a button at the right time, because that’s fun in itself - we knew we wanted to have a custom built controller that would be simple and (figuratively) scream “use me”, so people would be even less reluctant to come forward and try it out. Big buttons with a diameter of 100mm or 60mm can be found at various shops selling electronic stuff; those were the first things we ordered. It turned out that the 60mm buttons are big enough, especially as the light distribution is not ideal, more so with the bigger version.

I began to extend my sparse knowledge of electronics (mostly: RGB LEDs) and Arduino related stuff, and also my tools and materials. Overall it was a somewhat expensive, but fruitful venture. (Of course there is still so much to learn...)

First wiring tests.
A plastic box for the controller - we wanted to build casings out of wood at the beginning, but didn't have time for that.

Using RGB LEDs make the buttons more versatile - so instead of a red button, there would be one that could have any colour, meaning it can even be re-used for different game ideas. But now there were a lot of things to be taken care of while building the controller, because the white LEDs of each button had to be replaced with an RGB LED - which meant instead of two pins there would be four, which made removing some metal from the LED holder necessary, and soldering a lot of wires to pins.

Preparing the LEDs

I built two controllers, because the final idea was inspired by Space Team. In our game, every player would see a different screen (easily done thanks to Unity’s ability to put each camera view on a different display) with different rules/instructions - either commanding a player to push a certain colour (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta), or forbidding to push a certain position (left, center, right). Each instruction would only be applicable for player A or B, and not necessarily displayed to this user - but the other one! This is why the players need to communicate: “Push the yellow button! But not the one on the left!”, and so on.

The two screens side by side.

The game was created very hastily, and unfortunately could not be tested during the development. It was made with Unity; I used Uduino for communication with the Arduinos, although I'm not sure if it was necessary to get that plugin. In any case, Jana was not available during that time, and creating a local multi-player game all alone proved to be not the brightest idea. Yet, I wanted to finish this as it started so strong - and expensive.

It wasn’t helping that one of the two controllers just didn’t work well enough. In over 50% of the time, 2 of the LEDs would not be turning on, and finding the error wasn’t possible; in the end I made a complete new set of LEDs and wirings the day before the exhibition.

Testing the final controllers

The Annual Exhibition became a series of unfortunate events. Just to continue the difficulties during development now the other controller had severe problems; it just didn’t work at all. And even though it became clear the next day that its Arduino (acquired years ago as reward for an IndieGoGo - it’s a micro controller board by Borderless Electronics) somehow had become defect, replacing the board with another one didn’t make the situation much better as there also seemed to be some loose connections. Update: It seems that not the board was at fault, but there are some bugs with the Arduino IDE, which prevent uploading the sketch. The loose connections were a real problem too though.

Moreover, as the game just wasn’t polished at all, it is full of bugs, and - worst of all - not quick enough to grasp by itself. In the current state the game needs a person to explain it to players, and I didn’t have time (or motivation) for that.

Instead I placed a short explanatory text next to each controller, but this is of course a hopeless effort. And if there’s something every developer loves to tell you (even if you already know it but don’t have another solution right now) then that “players don’t read”. In any case, it turns out that even with only three buttons, there are so many questions and confused looks.

Of course, this is not a problem in itself. As long as the learning process for the users is fun already they will forgive shortcomings; all they have to do is spend some more time, which can’t be expected from this specific audience (people interested in art and design visiting a university-wide exhibition).

Even though the project had so many pitfalls and a less than satisfying result, we definitely want to tackle it again when there is some more time. The controllers are built (which was quite an achievement for me) and the possibilities are endless - maybe making a simple instrument instead of an elaborate game would be a saner idea. In any case I tasted blood and would really like to do more light hardware experiments and custom input methods in the near future.

As always - if you want to talk with us (and other enthusiasts) about our games and/or game development in general, visit us at our Discord!

Gamescom – Day 2 – The mess(e)


After getting in touch with little game booths and crowded places at the Notgames Fest on Tuesday, we felt ready to check out the gamescom. Luckily Wednesday is Trade Visitors Day, so everything is just half-crowded, but totally set-up for the big mayhem to start.


The first thing we headed for was the CD Project Red booth in the business area. Most business booths are super boring, have food and drinks for the press, no booth babes and are seldomly crowded. The CDPR's booth was full of people that were interested in their upcoming projects. GOG.com's Trevor Longino was there handing out t-shirts with a raising fist claiming the DRM-free revolution. And there was a Witcher boardgame, that looked quite nice. But no game to play, nope.


Another booth we visited with great interest was the Indie Megabooth booth. Kelly Wallick talked about their epic project to make Indie games more visible and to bring them to tradeshows like PAX or gamescom. We met Zoii (Global Game Jam, Playful Arts Festival, Women in Games NL), Jonatan Van Hove brought his suitcase arcade with the multiplayer WTF-game 'Go Nuts!' and Sos Sosowski arranged his hairspray and Achtung! Arcade. When you have a game or any interest in indie games, go there. I bet you will meet someone interesting.






The Iran was there, too. And brought us games where you have to chase your nose! Or MMO cockfight games. But seriously, I regret that we didn't have much time to check out this booth more closely.

After leaving the business area we went straight to the German IndieArena Booth, assembled by Oliver Eberlei from Hammerlabs Games. In a short amount of time he achieved to get contacts, indies, material, computers and all the stuff necessary to present a great collection of games.


Thomas Schulze, whose game I'm currently playing, showed us his monitor with the special foliage he needed to keep his game Splatter (word!) from the eyes of children.


You can also play Beatbuddy by Threaks there. An underwater platformer where you play in the rhythm of the music with a fantastic art style and a cute character. They even have a human sized mascot!


Talk to Sebastian Mittag and Mareike Ottrand from Studio Fizbin about their adventure The Inner World.


Or meet Thomas Bedenk and his team Brightside Games, who work on a game with many indie characters you might know.

If you want to see the ten ambassadors of the German Indie scene, go to Hall 9, Booth A-045 and feel the bright, fresh wind of German indie spirit.


A picture of a nice dog. I asked the booth babe to step aside for the image. She didn't look pleased.


Yes, we had press material.

After getting deaf through the booth next to the IndieArena we seek a more peaceful place and found it in Hall 10. Our friends from Leipzig prepared together with a lot of other retro enthusiasts a huge area of exhibitions, retro consoles, games, relaxing spaces and more interesting stuff than you will ever find it in any other booth.


The yellow wall is a German 80s kid's room. OMG, look at this stuff!


Some steps further you can play the analog version of Pacman – the Whacky Wit boardgame. Norman Sommer created this beautiful-looking, wooden boardgame. It even sounds awesome when you reset the pills! We played one session and talked about the process of making such a game. Norman made this game for an computer-enthusiastic friend in hospital, so they could play things together there. Now he got quite famous with this luxury boardgame for collectors.

s_retro_cover_05 s_retro_cover_04 s_retro_cover_02 s_retro_cover_01


Thomas Köhre from the Haus der Computerspiele (House of Computergames) introduced us to the most ugly, strange, shitty game covers exhibition. We should make a jam just from these packages.


In the same area we found game schools, cosplayers, the German Bundeswehr (if you like head shots, you should get hired there!) and case modders (the theme is 'Steam Punk').


That the OUYA is only one of many companies starting to be a competitor on the console market was something we recognized even more at the gamescom. There is the Pandora (you may find the creators in the retro area), UNU (by a German company) and the BOYO. The UNU was most interesting, because of its access to the Google Play store. The docking station will be delivered with a remote (quite similar to the Wii remote, but without the Gyro) and in the game version a controller is added as well. The UNU company is planning an own shop as well.


Another trend that was very visible at the gamescom are games that enable the player to be more creative. At Microsoft's booth you can see presentations and playable versions of Project Spark. With this tool you can create a 3D-world by adding and removing material, like working with clay. Afterwards you can paint the stuff with prepared grass, rock, ice or desert textures and add props like trees, rocks, plants and enemies. This is just the edit mode. In play mode you can add a character and walk through your newly built level. With a very basic and easy programming tool you can add behavior to your character. The whole tool looks like a polished and more user-friendly successor of Kodu.



And for those who already have the boob pads, check out for the brain wave controlled cat ears. Hooray for technology!

Alright gamescom. We leave now. See you next year, probably with more to TRI.