The 2017 Game Developers Conference is right around the corner, and today organizers are proud to announce the selection of 20 games to exhibit at alt.ctrl.GDC, the on-site showcase of alternative control schemes and interactions in games.
That means GDC 2017 attendees who stop by the alt.ctrl.GDC exhibit will have the chance to play some of the most inventive and innovative games around using unique, one-of-a-kind controllers.You can strum a lyre with laser strings, for example, or climb into a giant inflatable Fear Sphere and try to survive against an unseen hunter.
You’ll also have the chance to grab hold of a real string and play tug-of-war with a virtual dog, control a game with a real turntable that’s been turned into an interactive controller, and sculpt the hills and valleys of a virtual world by moving your hands through a real box of sand!
As always, it promises to be a fantastic showcase. This year’s roster of alt.ctrl.GDC finalists is as follows:
- Orpheus Quest (Anibal Hormeche, Raul Palavecino, Laura Palavecino): A video game experience with an unique control method, where the participant of the experience must control Orpheus in the Underworld. The player plays a lyre with laser strings in order to synchronize his execution with the notes seen on the screen. The objective is to calm the infernal beasts who try to stop him and (at the end), convince Hades and Persephone of letting him and Eurydice return to the Land of the Living..
- Schadenfreude (Courtney Snavely, Seung Whan Lee, Paul Frank Mallon, Kevin Constantino): Have you ever been stuck on a cramped elevator? So many people crammed into the tight space that you can’t even reach the elevator button? Have you ever thought “wow, I wish someone would turn this experience into a physical hidden traitor game”? Well you’re in luck! Schadenfreude is a game staged on a physical controller about that one asshole on the elevator that can’t seem to remember their floor or presses all of the wrong buttons ON PURPOSE. Fun for all ages. Game play short enough to not destroy friendships.
- Fear Sphere (working title) (New Arcade): Fear Sphere is an experimental game aimed at bridging the gap between the real world and the digital world–without the use of VR. The game itself is played with a minimum of 2 players, one of which is placed inside an inflatable sphere, acting as the realm the game takes place within. Using the custom built ‘flashlight’ controller, the player must navigate an unknown indoor space while being stalked by an unseen enemy.
- U.F.O. Bellies (Miyeon Kim, Yue Lin, Xianghan Ma, Xiaomeng Tang [Maximity]): A color trick game that requires the players to find the color of the word, not the text of the word itself. There are two teams with two players (total 4 players) and each one of the player wears the U.F.O belly that is covered with 3 primary color pads. Their goal is to complete the game fasterthan the other. The four players is catching the color of the word on the screen and find the right color from the belly by rotating it and bumping into each other.
- Superbrin (Studio Bruyant): A reinterpretation of traditional games from Picardie (France). The installation is a born inviting the player to throw a ball. The launch is then extended in the game, mix of psychedelic pinball and futuristic bowling: aim for targets to earn points, steal points from your opponents by exploding their balls, or get all sorts of bonuses to provide additional abilities to your ball.
- Cylindrus (Jerrytron): A game of light played around a cylindrical field of play. Up to four players move wirelessly around the cylinder of 600 LEDs as they attempt to control the battlefield, shrouded in a natural fog-of-war. Inspired by early hunt and destroy games such as Tank on the Atari, Cylindrus takes the form a step further, tapping into the movement of the players themselves, and the space they inhabit. It’s not enough to stare at the tower of light; you must also stare into the whites of your enemies eyes.
- Shape Fitter (Haptic Controller): A game for the Haptic Controller. It explores intricate manipulation of 3D geometric shapes of varying complexity. The player needs to move and orient the shapes in 3D space to fit through a corresponding shape-cradle in a moving wall. Shapes are oriented using the two handles of the controller as if the player is holding the shape with his/her hands. Compression of the controller’s spring affects the speed of the moving wall, while bending and twisting of the spring provide ways to transfigure the shape.
- Doggy Tug-Of-War (Martín Sebastián Wain): Physically pull a real, responsive string to play tug-of-war against a virtual dog. The stubborn “dog” is a motor that pulls and releases with different force settings at intervals and synchronizes with precision with a video in a monitor. Specially fun for children.
- Victor the Loser (Chuck Kuan, Chao-Hui Tu, Yumeng Wang, Magnus Pind, Xianghan Ma): Victor the Loser is a game controller that you play with it, and it is a bad loser. Seemingly a regular home arcade game machine, Victor only reveals its true colors when it feels threatened by the player’s imminent victory, at which point it will try to sabotage the player’s progress with an arsenal of tools. Tiny handles reaching out from within the enclosure to interfere with the player’s movements; A joystick spinning unpredictably, confusing the player’s directional controls; A flag waving in front of the monitor, distracting the player and blocking their vision; A cable that ejects itself from the game console, and more. The intensity of these actions grow, as Victor the Loser becomes increasingly impatient as it watches the player succeed.
- vinylOS (Josef Who? & Jonas Bo): vinylOS is an alt.ctrl game console and media art installation based on a DJ turntable. The turntable is transformed into a screen by projecting onto it from above. Simultaneously it takes on the role of the input-device: by spinning, scratching or rewinding the vinyl you can control a game or other interactice content. A platform that can be used to create experimental interactive content originates.
- Emotional Fugitive Detector (Alexander King, Samuel Von Ehren, Noca Wu): A two-player cooperative game which uses the human face as both its primary controller and screen. One player’s face is scanned for emotions by the installation robot’s face tracking technology. The other tries to determine which emotion is being scanned for. Emotional Fugitive Detector embraces the affordances of human emotional expression, and subverts the concept of a controller. Instead of using the controller (a human face) to exert control, players attempt to send no input while evading detection. Players must find a difficult middle ground in this emotional Turing test: expressive enough for a human, too subtle for a computer.
- Zombie Crawler (Anders Karlsson, Ida Andersson-Junkka, Louise Fändriks, Linda Thern, Erik Nord, Adrian Lavrell): An arcade Zombie Game controlled by crawling on on a treadmill-like controller. Goal is to get the human at the end of the corridor.
- Objects in Space (Flat Earth Games): A modempunk stealth space-trading game for PC, Mac and Linux set in Apollo – a huge cluster of star systems dozens of lightyears away from Earth. You are a lonesome ship’s captain, buying and selling wares in order to keep your bucket of bolts afloat and stay one step ahead of pirates, organised criminals, corrupt governments and shady laws. The ships control like they were submarines rather than planes, with players navigating their ships rather than piloting them. We’ve built into the game the ability for players to build their own custom controllers using a virtual serial port, and have built a few sets of such controllers ourselves using Arduinos, the most advanced of which is our submission to Alt Ctrl 2017!
- Spacebox (James Keats, Amanda Ledwidge, Jake Pierce, Robin Shafto, Ricky Rizzo, Dennis Dysart): Childhood is a magical time when we make believe, taking ourselves on any adventure we imagine. Our submission to the Alt.Ctrl.GDC is meant to bring that childhood wonder to life. Using an ordinary cardboard box, we blend reality and imagination. Sitting in the box, you control your character, mimicking child-like play. By simply shifting your body, you direct your ship, guiding it through a gauntlet of asteroids towards your goal. To combat enemy fleets in this environment, you can activate a force-field and blaster with the box flaps. This simple, full-body experience captures the essence of imaginative play!
- Sand Garden (DigiPen Team Psylight, DigiPen Institute of Technology): An experimental game using a physical box of sand as its primary input device. The world of Sand Garden is populated by several villages. As the sculptor of this land, you are trying to make as many villages as possible happy by growing them. Each village type has an altitude that it thrives in. To grow mountain villages, you build hills in the sandbox around the village. Similarly to grow plains villages, you flatten the terrain around the village. Due to the physicality of the sand, and the simple mechanics of the project this is a game for all ages.
- Super Furry Neon Cat Heads (The Super Furry Neon Cat Heads): Played in a furry VR Cat Head, using a sensor filled cat tower as a controller, for a “meow-mixing” rhythm game.
- Cryptogram (The S. Crew): A horror-themed puzzle-game inspired by the hidden door behind a bookshelf-trope. When finding themself trapped inside a strange house, the player has to go from room to room, each containing a puzzle. Outside of what’s happening on the screen, the player got to use a journal and pull the right books in the bookshelf in front of them to solve the many different puzzles. Each puzzle brings them closer to freedom, but not far behind, something horrible is slowly catching up.
- RotoRing (Gregory Kogos): The hardware circular puzzle-platformer with pretty lights and clicky knobs.
- Close the Leaks (to prevent imminent death) (Henning Steinbock, Samuel Chapman): Four players are needed to close a spaceship’s air leaks to keep breathing. Releasing air however is the only way to steer the spaceship.
- The Heist (Setapp): You know that scene from The Matrix where Neo is talking with the operator looking for a telephone box? They both need to rely on each other but can only talk to get out of The Matrix. We took that concept and built a game around it. One player is in VR and other has a special panel with buttons and cables that interacts with the virtual world.
As always, the alt.ctrl.GDC exhibit is open to all GDC attendees and will make its fourth appearance at the conference from Wed-Fri, March 1st-3rd in the Moscone Convention Center, near the Independent Games Festival pavilion. Any questions about the showcase should be directed to alt.ctrl.GDC co-creator and organizer John Polson.
So don’t miss your chance to play these unique, one-of-a-kind games — GDC 2017 may be your only chance to do so! And don’t miss your opportunity to save money by registering early — the deadline to register for passes at a discounted rate is January 18, 2017. GDC 2017 itself will take place February 27th – March 3rd at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.