A few weeks ago, someone had an idea. It was in October, we had just received a contractor to develop a game, and during lunch we were talking about stuff we loved in games we played. There were a few hardcore gamers around the table. Mason and Aurélien were talking about a game in which a character was looking at a laptop with the CCTV of the area and giving instructions to his team. They though it was almost a game inside the game.
And that’s it.
It kept running in our heads. Especially later the same day with a client. We love to involve our clients in our ideas, and it seemed obvious to talk about the idea. Excited by it, he wanted to use it in a workshop, and make it integral to his innovation pedagogy. So, we got to work!
There is no game without a story. There is no immersion without a story. So we needed a story.
A few days later, we were working with Eric and Mason, and these guys are players, good players actually. We sent them on a mission! “You have 2 hours to write the story of a heist! Use what you saw in games, movies, novels!”.
And they wrote The Heist. A 5 man team that has to steal a formula inside a secured building. They then presented a powerpoint with the workflow of the players, their roles, the challenges they have to solve, and examples of games and movies. They did a great job in those two hours. And we took a bet: we can show a preview of the game at our next workshop with our current client, 6 weeks later!
Once the idea was clear, we could start to work on the game itself. An important part in the game is that we have a commander outside the building and 4 players inside the building. It seemed obvious to us that the 4 players could play in VR, while the commander leads them. We were experimenting with Google Cardboard at that time, and we were missing a project to dig further into it. Well, now we have it.
The project was then categorized according to the competencies of each member of the Digital Skin team.
Aurélien would have to build a 3D building with all the necessary 3D stuff inside it: computers, rooms, laser detectors, furniture and so on. It’s perfect, he could work on his own until he had something nice to share.
I started to play around more with Cardboard, and Damien integrated VR with the character controller we were using. Then we added a network layer to see other players. A lot of obstacles sprung up each time we started a new task, we had to handle the 3D performances of the phones, interrogations of a VR UI,…
We tried and set up a few challenges. Each day, we progressed, helping whoever was one stuck in a dead end, but time was flying.
Two days before the showcase we had the VR players running. Next to that, we had a commander touch screen working. All were in their sandboxes. We also had a great building.
And we had to put all these together in the 2 days. That last night was hard work!
But on the morning, we had a good preview of the game. It could only run for 20 minutes before crashing, there was only one challenge working, but…everything else was there.
By 9am, the workshop started, and The Heist was used in part of it. Mission accomplished! I still cannot believe what this team accomplished in such a short period of time. And to be clear, we were working on The Heist’s development at the same time as other projects!
On the clients side, this was a very positive experience. We will use it with them as a tool to train soft skills for their senior management program. And there are a lot of soft skills involved in the game, from communication to team management, not forgetting quick decision making processes…
Our development of The Heist is continuing. Players can play with the VR Headset, but now also on their PC or Mac! And very soon, on their phones and tablets too. The main challenges are looking good, and now we are looking into adding some AI to make it a harder game!