IndieCade 2013 Jury
The Walk is a game about physical and psychological connection between players. is an experimental game originally developed during the Global Game Jam 2013.
In order to experience The Walk, a Microsoft Kinect and two Xbox 360 controllers are required. Standing in front of the Kinect and holding the 360 controllers with only one hand, the two players understand that, through physical interaction outside the game, they can change the game itself.
My intention was to create an experience that would emphasize how physical connection can trigger powerful emotions, and how it can lead to psychological synergy between two individuals.
To address this idea, a strong contrast has been put in the look and feel of the game when the interaction outside the game takes place or not. Making The Walk was a great personal achievement, since it meant building a Game without any sort of conflict between players, without losing/winning conditions, and capable of hitting players on an emotional level.
The players still require to use one hand for moving the pandas with a 360 controller: this decision was made to remove the ‘silliness’ of most of the motion-controlled experiences, therefore to give a more ‘serious’ feel to the game. To enforce the idea that physical connection is a powerful human interaction tool regardless of the players’ gender, we decided to make the characters look like pandas, making it impossible to identify sexual traits in their aesthetics.
The concept development of The Walk was the hardest and most interesting part of the development. Understanding how to address a specific emotion, and what kind of interaction to use was clearly the biggest challenge. I designed every detail of the experience and I supported the release of the game with promotional material such as the two videos that can be found on the Media section of this page.
What Went Right
From my personal perspective, what went right was convincing the rest of the team to invest our time in such an experimental concept. We worked together a lot of times, but we never really tried to do something like this before. Everyone kept good enthusiasm during the jam and afterwards, when we spent time polishing The Walk.
From a more technical point of view, configuring the Kinect was for sure one of the most positive aspects of the game jam. After about thirty minutes, we already had the Kinect ready to work, detecting the players with an accetable margin of error that we tweaked afterwards.
The audio of the game was for sure another big element that we smoothly implemented thanks to the collaboration with other great people helping us from the other side of the planet. I thank them for having contributed with strong passion to the project.
There is one final element that went right almost by accident: the animations of the 3D characters. We built The Walk on an in-house engine that had quite some problems importing the animations of the 3D models (this was a one line of code fix that was made just after the jam was done). Since we wanted to find an efficient way to solve the problem in the fastest way possible, we decided to take only few frames of the 3D animations, and make a sprite-sheet out of them. We were afraid that such an approach could have ruined the look of the game, but in the end we liked it a lot, and made the game look different, in a good way.
What Went Wrong
At the beginning of the gamejam it was difficult to imagine how to trigger the emotion I had in mind. Finding the correct interaction and the most appropriate technology was not an easy task. As soon as we opted for the Microsoft Kinect camera, we figured out that different precision problems were capable of mining the entire experience.
In the months following the Global Game Jam, we spent more time testing and tweaking the game in a way that the Kinect would respond in the best way possible, but this didn’t allow us to have the game the way we originally envisioned.