SWARM is a motion-controlled mini-game about fireflies.

Gameplay

A swarm of fireflies is flying through a cave. The user can alter its altitude by moving his right hand up or down. He has to, since the fireflies can get caught on the cave’s walls. Sometimes one has to navigate through narrow spaces – clenching a fist with the right hand focuses the swarm. It is then easier controllable for a short time, but after the a couple of seconds of being focused the fireflies are spread apart.

Within the level there are six “Soundspots”. To activate one of them the user has to make a couple of fireflies pass through. Once activated, a layer of sound is starting to play. The aim is to complete the playing piece of music by activating as many “Soundspots” as possible.

The score is shown when the players gets through to the end with a couple of fireflies left. For every two “Soundspots” activated, there is one medal.

Observations

Players quickly get used to navigating their hands in the open space without haptic feedback.

People playing the game are usually challenged by it’s need for multi-tasking: having to control an action with each hand is difficult. Navigating in the open space without haptic feedback takes some time to get used to as well. But once players get the hang of it, they usually become very good at it quickly. They start focusing on the game instead of their own movements and forget that this game is controlled by such an unconventional interface. Age doesn’t seem to matter: Younger people might be a bit quicker at gaining a sense of space, but in the end everybody can control the game.

Technology

Every firefly is an autonomous agent, but is aware of the other fireflies’ movements.

We developed SWARM within two weeks as part of a four week workshop. It was first written in Processing, later rewritten in JavaScript. A Leap Motion is used for tracking.

To make the game run in Processing at an acceptable framerate we used Multi-Threading and a self-written performance-optimized collision detection algorithm. The swarm is created by a self-developed particle system with a small amount of swarm-intelligence (the particles are aware of each other and try to mimic one another’s movements.) There are even dust particles flying around in light beams.

Meta

This is a student project created during two weeks in spring 2014 as part of a workshop by Prof. Dr. Franklin Hernández-Castro.

Team partners

Nikolas Klein
Florian Ludwig
Miguel Pawlowski

Links

Processing and JavaScript Code
Product Video