January 26, 2015 admin

Last Monday the 26th of January, the entire team here at Plug-in Media downed tools on client work for the day in order to participate in our very first company hack day! We split into five teams of three to take a project from inception to completion in 8 hours: one developer, one artist and one PM.

As any veteran game jammers know, short term hack project just isn’t complete without a theme. In this case, the theme was the song “Sing Sing Sing (with a Swing)” by Benny Goodman. Play the song now and keep reading! It turns the rest of this article into an multimedia experience.

Not only was this some the theme of the hack, but the music HAD to be incorporated into the final project. Alan had set up an internal server to stream the music along with tempo, volume and frequency data, so the projects could make use of this data and react to changes in the song. Let’s look at what the teams came up with:

AR Pig

Joel, Matt and Dom were working on an Augmented Reality project using Unity. The original idea was to make a car drive around a virtual track, but of course the car was quickly replaced with a banjo-playing, pig-riding cowboy. We’ve not done as much AR work in the last couple of years, so it was interesting to see how the technology has evolved, and how quick and easy it has become to set up a development environment. Within the first hour, we were able to render a cube onto an AR marker and from there it was a case of replacing the cube with the pig, adding an environment and some controls. The AR trees at the border of the environment act as a frequency visualiser, taking data from the aforementioned server when the song is streamed.

Sinky Boat

The only project from hack day which was a bona fide fully featured mobile game, Nat, Jim and Carys made Sinky Boat. Sinky Boat is an uptempo reflex based game where the player must tap on the correct icons on the side of the boat as it sinks down the screen. Tapping the correct icons will lower the water level and raise the boat, whereas the incorrect icons will have the reverse effect. The water and icons move in time with the beat, and the impact that the icons have on the level of the water increases with the volume of the track, turning a musical crescendo into a difficulty curve.

Globe Runner

This was a collaboration between Beccy, Jak and James in which a giant giant roams across a 3D planet. Made in Unity with a wonderful low-poly art style, the giant runs as the environment pulsates in time with the music. Different objects respond to differences in volume or frequency creating a living, ever growing world of trees, plants, houses and rocks to explore. The skyline also changes as the song progresses, the song begins in the morning and ends as the sun sets.

Theatre Assassination
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This game by Dan, Ellie and Juliet… there isn’t much to say except we can’t really show a screenshot. No, really. A musically responsive shooting gallery in HTML5 was an excellent showcase of the technology, but seriously. You don’t want to know anything else about it.

Dancing Selfie Robot

Alan, Jules and Michael created a dancing robot using Arduino. This robot has a program that listens to a beat from the server, and issues movement commands through the Arduino boards and parts. As the volume increases, the dancing becomes more intense. The robot was given a brightly coloured papercraft housing including a unicorn horn and rhythmically flashing LEDs on its chest. The team also made a website that took a photo on every beat of the song, resulting in a constantly updating photo booth style printout of the robot’s funky dance moves. The only problem with this is that the project was so well synced that half of the photos looked the same! It was very exciting to see this as Plug-in’s first foray into imcorporating HTML5 into “The Internet of Things”, and it only took a day!