“Spinoochi” is a multi-player AR game (work-in-progress) in which players rescue hundreds of creatures from extinction while searching for a way to stop an evil wizard, MurkMan, from releasing the lethal Glop (sticky black ooze – think coal and oil) into the magical world of Miragia.
The core of Spinoochi is a role-playing game, such as Pokemon, however, instead of training creatures, the player rescues them. (Think Pokemon meets FEMA.)
Common household objects – e.g., toothbrush, iron, vacuum cleaner, blow dryer, scissor, spray bottle, even a fork, knife or spoon – are cross pollinated with the features of animals or plants to morph them into the inhabitants of Miragia. For example, “Harry the Hooveater” is a hybrid of a vacuum cleaner and an anteater. Waffagor is a waffle iron monster that waits to clamp down on its prey like a Venus flytrap. Toothbrushes have been turned into fairies that twirl when excited. The idea is that human imagination can turn even the most mundane objects into magical characters and environments.
From an AR perspective, the point is not to overlay foreign environments on top of our everyday environments, but to turn our common spaces into mystical landscapes that exist only in the virtual world.
The dramatic situation – the overarching problem – reflects the world’s climate change challenge. Black glop (oil) is destroying Miragia while the elephantine tears (water) of the Spigoos have dried up.
Joey Spinoochi (nicknamed “Spinooch”), a bullied and lonely kid, has been left to his own devices at home. Startled by a strange clicking noise, he discovers Stitchmus (cross between a stapler and a mouse) stealing the last of his jujubees. As Stitchmus scurries away, Spinooch chases him into the basement only to see the wily creature disappear through a crack in the floor.
As Spinooch tries to grab Stitchmus, the crack yawns and pulls him into a slimy chute. Tumbling through the tunnel – whooosssh! – Spinooch lands plunk in Tickerwood, a thicket (a nest of coat trees) of clocks that count time any which way but the right way.
There he meets Kookla, the timekeeper. The crazy old bird (hybrid cuckoo and a cork screw) screeches about Glop. The black goo is seeping into everything, confusing time and killing off the world of Miragia.
Worse, there is little agwa left. Ever since MurkMan put the Spigoos (elephants-water faucets) under a sleeping spell, their tears have dried up. Miragia no longer has any AgwaPura running through its rivers and lakes. Without agwa, nothing can survive.
Someone has to rescue the creatures of Miragia.
Someone has to wake the Spigoos.
Someone has to block the glop.
Someone has to destroy MurkMan.
The player assumes the role of liberator, protector, or Guardian Angel of Miragia. It’s as if he/she acts as a first responder in the midst of an emergency – the rising tide of black goo and the impending demise of Miragia.
1) Visit different locations, solve a puzzle or complete a task/challenge, to rescue a creature trapped in that environment.
2) Grow in power as they save more creatures, which enables them to liberate more elusive creatures.
3) Build knowledge (spells) and collect info on the whereabouts of MurkMan and the Spigoos.
4) Liberate the most rare creature (TBD) who will lead them to MurkMan’s underground castle.
Originally, the project was an interactive story done in Macromedia Director in the 1990s at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), NYU. We’re currently evolving the piece into an AR RPG and are still thinking through the game mechanics. How much agency will be given to players – for example, enabling them to build their own hybrid creatures or environments – has yet to be determined. While we’ve built demos and applications in VR for the past few years, we’re only now entering the world of AR and exploring the functionality of this new platform.
The world of Joey Spinoochi is Home Alone but the Home Comes Alive. Characters need to be inspired by the things we use daily but take for granted. These items are aching to be not-so-ordinary.
The creatures below are examples of what we envision to be a large cast of characters that populate Miragia – i.e., this is only the beginning. Whether the characters mutate or evolve during the course of the game is to be determined.
THE ENVIRONMENTS / LOCATIONS (examples)
A stove top is transformed into a field of volcanoes that spit flames. A bathtub or the kitchen sink becomes a treacherous lake to be traversed by a sponge-raft. Stairs turn into a series of steep cliffs.
Tickerwood is a surreal thicket composed of coat trees and clocks.
We’re exploring the ways in which these environments can be created, incorporated or triggered by real environments via AR. Can players add, change or augment these environments during game play?
Maya, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Unity 3D, Premiere, Photoshop, Audacity