Into the Dark: A Bat's Tale

Brentt Kasmiskie
Kirsten Rispin
Tiffa Cheng
Vivek Vidyasagaran
Adam Liss

Into the Dark was our fifth and final Building Virtual Worlds assignment where we had 3 weeks to design, build, and test our game. Our main idea for this round was that the player would have to steer a bat as it chased a bug through a cave, while using their actual voice to simulate echolocation.

Originally, we designed the game to be played using an eye tracking device so the player would steer by looking. After the first two weeks, however, we found the eye tracker didn't work reliably, and we were faced with a difficult decision about whether we should switch platforms a week before the project was due. We ended up switching to the Oculus Rift and using their head tracking to steer instead, which ended up being the right call as the Oculus not only worked more reliably, but it also added a degree of physicality that the game had been lacking.

This game was also selected for our school's annual Festival, so we were given an additional week to make improvements. We spent most of this time working on the bug-hunting mechanic, which had consistently confused players every time we tested it. We decided that hunting multiple bugs would make more sense than constantly pursuing and attacking the same bug but, after a playtest at 2 am on the morning of the Festival, we realized that our current version was confusing as well. We were once again faced with the difficult decision of whether to stay the course or make last minute changes and, once again, we decided to at least give it a try. Our programmer had already gone home for the night but, since I had worked closely with him throughout the project, I felt comfortable making the changes on my own. Within a couple hours we had a version where the player hunts multiple bugs over the course of the game, but only one at a time, which everyone agreed made things a lot simpler.

The game was a big hit at the festival. Players dodging and ducking while screaming into a microphone made for quite a spectacle. We also found someone to ship us edible crickets, which we offered to players to eat after they played our game. While this project involved a lot of stressful decisions and last-minute changes, I had a really good time working on it, and everyone on the team agreed it was one of their favorites.