“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.
Harry the Hooveater – Harry wheels around the forest of Chromadonia and sucks up leftovers. His nose is a hose and his tail is a storage bag full of goodies mixed with dust balls.
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.
Waffagor is a waffle iron but he’s not interested in pressing bread. He’s keen on chomping down on anything that happens to land between his teeth.
Whipstas – Although these egg-beater birds are land-bound, they move quickly when scared or excited.
Drizzbot – bird-like spray bottle with sprinkler wings. When water streams out from each side of his body, the wings spin. To navigate the land of lava boils (stove top), a Drizzbot can save the day.
Spigoos – a cross between an elephant and a water spigot, the rare pink Spigoo has fallen under the MurkMan’s spell. Unable to weep, the comatose Spigoo can’t provide the agwa that Miragia so desperately needs.
Stitchmus – hybrid mouse and stapler. Stitchmus battles a sugar addiction, stealing Joey’s candy at any chance he gets. Although the trickster manages to scurry away, he leaves a trail of staples.
Rugrays – cross-fertilised between a potholder (mitt/rags) and a stingray, Rugrays zoom across kitchen counters, wiping, polishing and protecting Muggos from the lava pits. A soft taxi (think flying carpet), the Rugray will allow a quick hitch and a ride.
Spunja – hybrid sponge and jellyfish who loves nothing more than a bubble bath. Spunjas hang out in tubs and spew bubbles when treated with kindness. But wring a spunja dry and it’ll crack apart.
THE ENVIRONMENTS / LOCATIONS (examples)
The locations of “Spinoochi” are rooted in the diverse spaces – kitchen, bedroom, living room, den, garage – of the average home. An icebox is turned into a frosty landscape; bags of frozen carrots and peas form a wall of surrounding mountains. Popsicle people inhabit this pittstop on the journey to find MurkMan and the Spigoos.
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.
In the two examples below, Chromadonia is a forest composed of forks, knives and spoons that have been scaled and warped. However, the fork that you once held in your hand now looms over your head.
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