18 June 2012

The challenge

We were asked to create an interactive application that combines multiple devices using AIR technology. Both design and development were important in this project, which had to reflect the sum of our knowledge after three years in college. The assignment called for an easy-to-use application, well designed and bug free were primordial aspects. The choice of devices was endless: desktop, tablets, smartphones, all kind of remotes and gaming controls, etc.

Focusing on a game

We were told we could do anything as long as it worked. I chose to create a game because it was the first thing that occurred to me when I heard about the assignment, and so I immediately started thinking about a good concept. I wanted to create a game that people could play without being completely bored after a few minutes, so fun and realism were two important requirements. My application combines both of them. The target group had to be as large as possible, so the design needed to be attractive and easy-to-use for all age categories, making this a tricky challenge.

Developing the concept

The first step was to choose something from reality that is both annoying and funny. The main goal of my game is to let the player change the situation in a humorous way. My concept: you're a pigeon flying through buildings in a large city. Your goal is to poop on rich businessmen with expensive clothes.

There were other things I had to think of before starting to design the game. What devices would I need? I had to think of an end for the game, some extra tricky features and extra difficulties. After a small brainstorm session I added features: you have to avoid large buildings (if you fly against them, you die, game over).

You only get a limited time to play (in order to fight boredom and to stimulate players to retry more often to beat their scores), and finally you must be pretty accurate when pooping on your target because when you miss it, you lose points.

The devices I chose are a desktop computer and smartphone with enabled accelerometer. The smartphone was the smartest choice in my opinion: it's a remote control that more and more people possess, and you can do so many things with it.

Tapping multi-device support in AIR

The difficulty with this assignment was to create a stable connection and transmit data between the multiple devices involved so they could both react to different events. AIR was the perfect solution to make that connection possible thanks to its cross-device support. Luckily our teacher, Wouter Verweirder, wrote some special AIR extensions that enabled a quick and easy connection between those devices. They made it really easy to gain a basic knowledge of how sockets work. The extensions can be found in a package called AirServer.

Watch me play the game

Have a look at the final result and let me know if you think I succeeded in my goal to both annoy and amuse.

About the Author

Augustin De Bie is a third-year student Digital Design & Media program at Howest University in Belgium. This course provides an education in both design and development. Upon graduation he hopes to continue experimenting with new technology to explore the limits of what's possible by creating Flash websites or Flex/AIR applications with those technologies. He is also passionate about motion design as well as print design. He wants to realize that passion in his future career by combining motion design with user interactivity through applications.