Bit Heroes Connect
Bit Heroes Connect is a project made in partnership with York Regional Police and HP. Using Mixed Reality (MR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Bit Heroes Connect creates a captivating massive local multiplayer experience for 8-12 year old children in elementary schools.
Product Design, Artist,
Programmer, Game Designer
- UX & Interaction Design
- Implemented all UI Elements
- Designed and Implemented AR Interactions
- Created and Implemented various different visual effects
- Developed an art style that would match our target demographic
- Presented and showcased at multiple events.
- Designed and created a green screen booth experience using Twitter's API
- Created multiple posters and marketing art pieces.
After 12 years of age, children start to get hesitant and scared in the presence of police officers. At school, children often have their first encounter with law enforcement when they come to teach in classrooms. These encounters aren’t very effective and often do not leave a good impression of the people that protect our society. The current issues with police officers in classrooms are:
Seeing this, we sought out to use both the superhero characters and cutting-edge technology from HP to create an engrossing experience with a coolness factor to help engage kids. Our creation, Bit Heroes Connect, achieves this through cleverly designed mechanics that promote teamwork and peer-to-officer interactions. In doing so, we are one step closer to creating a community that trusts each other and works as a team to overcome violence - bullying in particular.
Bit Heroes Connect is the preface to the assemblies the York Regional Police do when visiting schools. By replacing the stale one directional monologue that is commonplace Bit Heroes Connect engages youths by priming them with positive psychology through implicit mechanics which encourages teamwork and promotes interactions with officers.
Bit Heroes Connect plays out in a series of repeating phases. In the first phase, players collect bits by tapping on bots. The more bots they collect the more rapidly their score increases. At a certain point, their device runs out of AR battery power and must seek an officer to recharge it. This is where we’ve crafted implicit behaviour -- children must go up to officers, a behaviour we do not promote in modern times. Moreover, the game signals that in this environment, not only is it necessary but an expected behaviour. This helps to compound that we are all in it together, from kids to officers.
In the second phase, players have the opportunity to share their spoils. They share their bits with other players by inputting their personal code, effectively multiplying their score. This teaches that, while it is beneficial to find bots on your own, teamwork is much more effective.
Finally, players collectively send all of their points to the Superhero character, signalling that it takes the community to help the superheroes perform their duty.
Looking around using your camera to find the bots around you.
Tap to capture!
Looking around using your camera to find the bots around you.
Share your bits!
Collaborate with the people around you and transfer your bits to each other!
Find a police officer to recharge!
Find a police officer that can recharge your battery for you!
Transfer your bits to the main base!
Work together to transfer your bits back to the main base!
Awesome job you've all collected a great amount of bits!
Initially I designed and implemented a mechanic that used different gestures to collect different bots. When I playtested this design some people really enjoyed it while other could not figure out the interaction at all. For this project accesibility was one of the highest priorities as it would be distributed to different schools
Creating Excitement and Wonder
Through testing I noticed that there was no wonder or excitement while collecting bots. I quickly identified the cause of this and designed/implemented a rarity mechanic. This mechanic increased users motivation to collect bots as there was something unexpected behind each bot.
Aside from recharging a player’s AR battery, their presence in the curated environment helps ease tension and promote pro-social behaviour towards officers. Each time an officer recharges a player’s AR battery they receive an additional bonus based on the player’s score to increase a sense of community as all participants aim to increase their score.
All participants and viewers, which includes parents and siblings, can get a sense of the game due to the spectator screen. The screen projects what the superhero United or Unity sees in order to create an environment that everyone can immerse themselves in. This ensures that parents can engage even without a device as it isn't quite possible to look over the shoulder when a young child plays an AR game. The screen itself also has other uses such as displaying the communal score of all players and their progress towards score milestones. In addition to acting as an indication of progression, it encourages players to look away from their devices and remember they are surrounded by others in their community.
We chose a style which we found would be nostalgic for young players though they would not know it. Looking back in the future, they would see it as something related to their childhood and the games they played around that time. The style is somewhat generic. To dismiss generic as something bad is a mislabel; genericity also means broadly appealing and unintrusive. The voxel style with bright colors is similar to other games popular with kids such as Minecraft. The user interface uses chunky graphics that intentionally evoke the look of voxels and stays away from distinctly retro pixel-art aesthetics as it isn’t what they are growing up with.
We presented our game characters with a green-screen experience at Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo 2018 and Level Up Showcase 2018. Participants would make poses in a 5-second animated clip as our bots roamed around the space. GIFs of this experience would then be instantly uploaded to Twitter on our account tagging the participants using the Twitter API.
Me, P.Y. Boulerice, Raphael Tetreault