This project was a Christmas themed cooperative/competitive game for four players adapting existing Jamodrum technology. This project was created by me and three other teammates in only three weeks as a part of Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center Building Virtual Worlds course. This project was ultimately showcased with a fully themed environment in Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center Fall Festival in December 2022 for over 600 students, faculty, family, friends, alumni, and industry professionals. Christmas Chaos was one of only 22 worlds featured at the Fall Festival out of 70 total worlds from throughout the semester and 51 worlds submitted for consideration.
In this experience, guests compete to become the next Santa! Guests work together with their partner to fly their elf through the town and deliver as many presents as possible while avoiding the obstacles! Two guests work together to fly the pink elf and the other two guests work together to drive the blue elf. One guest controls the vertical motion of the elf and the other guest controls the horizontal motion of the elf, so guests have to work together and communicate to get to the houses with the lights on and drop gifts! The pair of guests that win the best out of three rounds wins!
I was one of the 2D artists on the project and worked with my team on the overall experience design and theming of the environment for the Fall Festival.
The goal of this project was to work with a team to develop an experience for Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center Fall Festival in December 2022 for over 600 students, faculty, family, friends, alumni, and industry professionals. Specific goals included creating an experience with novelty, a shared social experience, and accessibility.
Addressing novelty, we focused on Jamodrum technology which had not been used by any teams yet that year. We loved the idea of using Jamodrum technology as it is a fun, unique technology that guests would be excited to interact with. We also developed a unique application of the Jamodrum technology which was both cooperative and competitive.
Addressing a shared social experience, we created a naturally chaotic and communication-focused game which had a lot of silliness and energy. This made the game almost as fun to watch and cheer on as it was to play!
Addressing accessibility, we worked to make the guest interactions and inputs as simple as possible so anyone could play. Guests rotate the wheel to change direction and hit the button to drop gifts to houses with the lights on.
Finally, we worked hard to create a project that would be a great fit for the Fall Festival. With so many guests at the festival, we wanted to create something with high throughput so that as many people as possible could experience our project. Therefore, we created our project to welcome four guests at one time. We wanted to create a game that would just be fun for guests to play. Our game does have narrative design which I worked on to set the scene, but the main draw of our game was welcoming our guests to do something silly, chaotic, and fun. Finally, as the Fall Festival was taking place in December, we picked a Christmas theme as a perfect fit for the time of year.
Our team worked together well and was able to quickly land on an idea that we all loved. This allowed us to begin work swiftly and develop a working prototype within only a few days that we could continue to iterate and improve upon with playtesting.
In our first iteration, it was a 4 guest entirely competitive game where guests would play as different colored Santas and compete to deliver as many gifts as possible in one round.
In early testing, we discovered that a cooperative/competitive game added a unique flair to the game and played into the natural chaos of the Jamodrum technology and controls. It was more fun, too! Therefore, we decided to shift gears slightly and follow this lead for our game.
First proof of concept test of guests driving the Santa and dropping gifts to the house
At the end of our first week of development, we had a functional game where 4 guests paired up to play as Red and Blue Santas and deliver as many presents as possible in 60 seconds.
At the halfway interim point of our development process, we tested our game with naive guests. The feedback that we received on the game was overwhelmingly positive and people were eager to play again which was a great sign! We took this playtesting note and actually built the guest desire for rematch into the game with multiple rounds with different maps, including a simpler first map to help guests ease into the goals, controls, and interactions of the game. For these new maps, I created more obstacles and improved existing obstacles. The biggest point of critique that we gained from this testing was to lean slightly more into the story and developing the world more fully. I took this feedback and designed an introduction video that explained the story behind what's happening and why, who the guest is, and what role the guest plays in the world. In my introduction video, I explained that Santa and his reindeer are retiring so he needs the elves to step up and compete to become the next Santa. This led to the shift in the guest role from red and blue santas to pink and blue elves. The introduction video also explains that guests will be working with their copilots to steer the rocket booster-powered sleighs and that they need to deliver as many gifts as possible. After interim, we continued to playtest and refine our experience, including playtesting with faculty, TAs, and people outside of our school.
Our full experience after one week of development. Guests played as Red and Blue Santas and competed to deliver as many gifts as possible in 60 seconds.
2 faculty members, a TA, and our programmer teammate playing our interim version of the game
Our game after one week of development including our map of houses (my design), pylons (my design), a city, and a water tower. The guests played as Red and Blue Santas. In the early stages, we learned a lot about the technical difficulties of working with Jamodrum. The alignment of the projection was a limitation of the technology. Throughout the process, we worked with programmers and technicians on bettering the alignment between the table and the projection as much as possible. Additionally, a limitation of the technology was that one of the pads often got disconnected so we would have to reset the Jamodrum table and software to fix it.
At the end of our second week of development, we had a functional game where 4 guests paired up to play as Pink and Blue elves. Guests drive their sleighs around the town and deliver gifts to houses with lights on and compete for the best of three rounds of gift delivery.
I created the title of the game and the title screen. The title screen featured appropriate Christmas colors as well as fonts that hinted at the fun, silly, chaotic nature of the game.
In my work as a 2D artist, I contributed many art assets to the game:
Title screen and introduction video featuring santa and elves
houses with lights that turn on to indicate when guests can deliver presents to that house and off to indicate when guests cannot deliver presents to that house
windmill that breaks and cracks when crashed into
tree that catches on fire when crashed into
Pylons that break and spark when crashed into
The jury was a rigorous process of deciding which experiences from the Building Virtual Worlds course would be showcased in the Fall Festival, a major event for our program with over 600 visitors including students, faculty, friends, family, alumni, and industry professionals . Faculty came to play our game and students and faculty voted for the best worlds for the festival. Ultimately, Christmas Chaos was one of only 22 worlds featured at the Fall Festival out of 70 total worlds from throughout the semester and 51 worlds submitted for consideration.
Faculty testing our game as part of the jury deliberation process
In the end, the notes that we received from the jury of faculty were as follows:
Good for spectators
We needed to refine our game for the Fall Festival. In the jury playtesting, we noticed some small things to improve in the game, including making the scoring more clear. To address this for the festival, we created physical cookies that acted as score keeping tokens. When a team won a round, they would earn a cookie. This served as a physical reminder of how many rounds each team had won.
We also needed to develop a plan for physically theming the room for our game. During the festival, our team needed to share the space with another team, so we worked with the other team to develop a plan where we could have the room for the second half of the evening. This meant that any theming we had needed to be quick and easy to assemble and move into and out of the room, but still effective for creating an immersive environment. Additionally, we had the challenge that we could not put any decorations on the walls, so we had to be strategic about our theming. I worked on sourcing the props and decorations. I ended up gathering props of red cloths, fake snowballs, fake snow, Christmas lights, a Christmas tree, and Christmas stockings. Additionally, we worked as a team to create some other props by hand including wrapping fake presents, paper snowflakes, and creating cardboard cutouts of Santa and an elf.
Making our cardboard Santa
Finally, we needed to have a plan for logistics of guest flow and guests per hour. We created a waiting area with seats and a screen displaying the gameplay for guests to use while they waited their turn to play. Ultimately, we planned to accommodate 48 guests per hour with more able to stand or sit in the room watching.
The night of the festival started off a little rocky as during our setup, we experienced some technical issues beyond our control with the Jamodrum projector. The projector was not working as expected and was glitching so we had to spend some time working with technicians to get everything working again. However, we were able to resolve the issue relatively quickly and after that, it was smooth sailing all night! Guests loved the game and it was so much fun seeing everyone enjoy our work!
Santa cardboard cutout and our entrance and waiting area
Elf cardboard cutout, tree, presents, and stockings
Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center Social Media
Our development process was highlighted on our program's social media!
508-404-3168 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Pittsburgh, PA | https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenelizabethplatt/