Wednesday, February 20, 2013

MadPea's "The Escape" and the role of HUDs for story telling

Check out another great gaming experience that is based on a heads-up display (HUD): MadPea's "Escape Room". 

There are two editions of the game. One is set in a run down motel room, the other in a Seventies design stage at its finest: Wallpaper with huge eyes, lava lamp, Kiss poster and even a record player. But whatever room you chose - once you're in, you will notice that you cannot get out of there. That's when the game starts! 

The "Escape Room" HUD serves as an interactive inventory space displaying pictures of the items that have been collected. The game itself follows the principle of "point and click" flash games that you can find on the internet. Look for interesting items in the room and click on them. You will get some items in your HUD. You can select, view and combine the collected items in your HUD and they can operate with other items in the room.

The target of the game is to escape the room which has been locked with a key from the outside. It is really great fun to play "Escape Room" or the "Escape Room Seventies Edition" because MadPea found the perfect mix between an easy to grasp game principle and entertaining puzzles. As always with SL games you can either play it alone or with friends. Playing in a team adds a lot to the fun (even if MadPea promotes "Escape Room" exclusively as "Fun for a single player"). If you want to spend an entertaining hour of solving riddles, you shouldn't miss the "Escape Room".

Almost all Second Life games depend on a heads-up display (HUD) that the player needs to wear. They are necessary because Second Life as a platform does not offer game mechanics. Such elements need to be scripted. A HUD typically is a two-dimensional user interface that controls inworld events, such as movements of your avatar, object states or sounds. A traditional HUD consists of a control panel with buttons that do certain things. HUDs are created by Residents using the LSL scripting language. 

Similar to the "Escape Room" inventory HUD, I have been amazed by the Loki's HUDs. Unlike most other creators in SL, he uses them to tell stories and to create an immersive atmosphere. For his short SL experience "The Well", Loki scripted a HUD that was cross-fading preloaded full screen images into the in-world view. The images worked like cut screens in traditional single player games and moved the story along. Unfortunately you cannot play it anymore. "The Well" has been closed a Month ago. The only trace left of it is a short machinima I made which shows some of those cut screens. 

Another amazing HUD by Loki can be found in the "Cheese Fairy" SL experience. The story advances by clicking game characters and objects which trigger "encounter bubbles" and dialogues similar to what you find in RPG games. 

Now I am waiting for a game creator to combine the single elements of these HUDs: cut screens, dialogues, "encounter bubbles" and an interactive inventory. That would be a hell of an interactive multiplayer adventure game!

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