Puppet Quest AR Game
Puppet presented us with a unique challenge for the PuppetConf 2017 user conference – they asked us to create an art installation that engaged their users in a way that got them excited, challenged them to try new things and explore the conference, and created a memorable experience for the participants.
We’re always up for a good challenge, and we responded by creating a game called Puppet Quest that is played in augmented reality using a series of murals that we installed at the conference. Here’s how it worked:
Puppet Quest is our first multi-player augmented reality game. In it, players must explore the conference to find hidden paintings, then team up to defeat the bosses and win prizes.
Participants picked up a copy of the Puppet Quest Guide when they registered for the conference. The guide outlined the basics of gameplay, and got them to install Layar on their mobile device. From there, they were instructed to find the paintings and scan them in the correct order to play the game.
We always like to focus on the story first, because without a good story, technology and art lose their ability to captivate our imagination. For this project, we imagined a young woman as the protagonist. She first must find a key, then she finds Puppet, a giant robot that is hidden amongst the stacks of servers, and activates it with the Key. With Puppet, the woman is ready to face off agains the Forces of Mayhem – three bosses that each threaten to destroy the IT systems that Puppet helps its users manage.
To defeat the boss, players must complete a DAG pattern, which is a graphical representation of the way that Puppet’s software works to automate IT systems. The DAG pattern appears on the floor in front of the mural in Augmented Reality, and players tap to add nodes to the DAG before they are overwhelmed by the boss.
Each day of the conference that participants played Puppet Quest, the boss became more difficult, and the DAG pattern more complex, eventually requiring cooperation to win. The bosses were c0nfu510n, d150rd3r and ch40$, collectively known as the Forces of Mayhem.
Puppet Quest wasn’t all just fun and games though. The installation actually solved a few problems for the conference. It encouraged participants to explore the rather large conference area – each day the murals would move to new locations, and players would have to find them to play the game. There was a hidden easter egg, when they scanned their badge it revealed a map of the conference area with the locations of the murals.
The game also included a quiz, with questions provided by Puppet about their software, the announcements they made at the event, and details participants would need to know from attending the sessions. In order to activate Puppet in the game, players must answer two out of three questions correctly.
The game also encouraged cooperation with strangers – in order to win the game, you had to team up with the other players around you and get them to help you defeat the boss. This created a more social environment, and gave people a good way to break the ice.
The game included a raffle each day, and anyone who had defeated the boss that day was entered to win. In addition to the raffle prizes, we created a leaderboard, which showed players with the highest scores, the next prize to be raffled, and previous prize winners. The leaderboard was installed next to the boss mural and gave participants an easy way to track the game.
Here’s a video showing some of the creative process and concept art for Puppet Quest: