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Hopper's Escape

Hopper's Escape is a very short game in which the player stands in front of a projection screen and then uses her shadow (tracked by Playmotion technology) to guide a toy kangaroo who is trying to escape from a creepy baby. When the kangaroo encounters an obstacle such as a flowing stream, the game switches modes and the player uses her shadow to build a magical bridge over the obstacle.

The game was created in two weeks as part of the Building Virtual Worlds class. It was extremely well-received by the class instructors, even prompting the usually-reserved Jesse Schell to exclaim, "Oh man, I'm in love!" In particular he lauded the use of dual game modes (guiding hopper and building bridges) that were "both novel and interesting." Hopper's Escape was selected by a jury of industry professionals to be a part of the end-of-semester B.V.W. Show.

Our goal for the game was to make a novel use of the Playmotion shadow-tracking system and to tell a story about "one creature afraid of another." To this end we decided to make a game about building bridges out of shadows (which had never been done before) to help a toy kangaroo escape from a baby. Two key design decisions were, first, to split the screen in two so that the player's shadow didn't obstruct the view of the game, and second, to clearly distinguish between the modes of directing Hopper and building bridges by altering the camera zoom and music.

As the project's programmer, the biggest technical challenge was integrating the player's shadow into the game's collision detection. This had never been accomplished before as successfully as in Hopper's Escape.

Credits: myself (programming), Katherine Rubenstein (2D art & textures, producer), Craig Wells (models & animation), Ping "Andy" Li (sound)