Before I was distracted by the AR.Drone cage's techno music at GDC last week, I spent some time at the 3dvia booth. I must have been in the French section of GDC, as 3dvia is part of Dassault Systèmes.
I was initially attracted to their augmented reality promotional game demo on the outside of their booth. There was a French Cereal Box resting, unattended beneath an external-camera-equipped flatscreen. Recognizing the giant AR marker on the back of the box, I lifted it to the camera to see what I was going to get. As I had expected, an interactive augmented reality game materialized on the screen in front of me. What appeared to be a cereal mascot seemed to be trapped on the right side of the box, standing on top of a spring. A marble rolled back and forth idly at the top left as my hand moved the box slightly. Tilting the box either way moved the marble, so I experimented. The object was to collect a series of wispy white light orbs positioned throughout the plinko style drop down "maze", and upon collecting them the spring jettisoned the mascot sprite outside the box where it did a little dance and offered to let me Rejouer.
[Fear The Beard]
The 3dvia development engine can be used for almost anything- interactive AR experiences, 3D models and scenes, and even social media games. The evidently very popular Facebook game "Billions" uses the 3dvia engine within your browser. Mac users may be out of luck as they're still working out compatibility issues with OS X and browsers on Macs, but if you can find a friend with a PC it's definitely worth the few hours that you'll inevitably spend on it.
"Billions" is extremely esthetically pleasing with its assortment of colors, textures, and environments. The mission of the spacesuit-wearing "Glow Agent" is to save as many "Mogaloos" as possible with its "Suck-em-all" gun. Evidently Moogaloos can't float out in space for very long, and need to be sucked. Weird narratives aside, the gameplay is extremely accessible and engaging, as you direct the character around a variety of giant, linked cubes. As the player approaches the "edge" of one of these cubes, he or she has the option to continue to the next surface (while the whole world rotates) or create a different array of blocks on that same plane. The end goal is to construct block arrangements that will lead the player to easily-perceivable clouds of flying Mogaloos in order to, well, suck them all.
The plane rotation can be disorienting at time, but the freeplay and near-infinite creations of blocks with different textures, obstacles, etc. is easily captivating. Users have the option of developing new levels and connecting with other players and developers through Facebook, quite nifty in fact. Here's a video of some GDC attendees trying to decipher how to use the AR Cereal Box game (note the "binging" in the background, it will make sense in the second part of the video), followed by some Billions gameplay.
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