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Animation latest

kes

Here’s a sneak preview of our latest characters. With the updates to the complete games engine, there are now going to be “helpers” for each of the games. So time to meet Kestrel, Owl, Squirrel, Hedgehog and Badger. Mole you already know – now he has brought his friends.
Kestrel



Owl









Squirrel




Hedgehog


Badger


Mole

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Indoor nav & a week at the Barbican

barbican

A question I am always being asked when I talk about Invisible Buildings is “can I play it indoors?” The answer is an emphatic no – our system makes use of GPS which only works outdoors. In fact, one of the virtues of our product is that it does takes place outdoors, at a time when children spend more and more of their lives indoors.

Even so, I have always been excited by the possibility of indoor navigation, watching as various systems have been proposed. There are a few new techniques now, and one of the (initially) most promising makes use of a device from Apple (although almost open-source) called an iBeacon. Using Bluetooth standards, these coin-sized devices send periodic messages which contain a unique id and an indication of the strength of the transmitted signal. So in principle by measuring the received signal from 3 or more differently positioned beacons, one should be able to triangulate ones position (this is how GPS works too). Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately you are right. Whilst you can be pretty sure of where you are when you are right next to a single beacon (and this is predominantly what people are using them for (e.g. near specific products in shops, or at a certain table in a cafe), various factors (most predominantly, the laws of physics) conspire to give you a rather hazy notion of your position if you should be foolish enough to triangulate (or even trilaterate).

However all is not lost, and I have been at the Barbican working on a project to help track audience and players as part of a potential future production. In particular we have been exploring some interesting ways we can “cheat” and get some pretty accurate locational info. The whole project is really interesting because it has potential not just in theatre but in games (in fact in what we are doing, we are blurring the lines between games and theatre – exciting), tracking, controlling, entertaining and informing audiences in arts venues, museums, and historic sites. More on this in the coming weeks.

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An Italian Gardens game?

IBSetupFram1

When I first devised Invisible Buildings, the thought was to follow much the same line as Time Team – find some evidence of a building and dig it up! Hence our first project was hunt the Roman Villa. And why not, it fitted in with the, as then, part of Key Stooge 1. With the arrival of our “game designer” component we have had the power to create new games, or variations of games, rather more easily. Hence we were able to turn out a prototype for a Lewes Priory game and more recently Victorian Explorers (played for 15 days at 3 English Heritage properties). Furthermore we have been surprised by how we can create exciting and varied narratives whilst essentially playing the same games.

It was whilst we were visiting one of the EH properties, Wrest Park, I was told by one of the children that there had been “real archaeology, we learnt it at school” taking place in the park. Then, talking to one of the curators when we visited the house, we learnt the “real archaeology” led to the (re)discovery of an Italian garden. I am now thinking that this would make a really good Invisible Buildings project. It has the basis for being a game that could really be played by the whole family as it would combine the excitement of digging up, with the more adult activity of gardening. It would also be easy to prototype as we have rediscovered gardens in our local Brunswick Square in Hove. It also fits in with our commitment to make “learning local” (e.g. see here).

I’m off to do some more research and will report back if and when we get this one off the ground. Invisible Buildings, Invisible Footpaths, now, Invisible Gardens – hey, I’m becoming the Invisible Man

Links

Guardian: ‘Secret garden’ Wrest Park reopens after restoration
English Heritage: Case study
The Landscape Group

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