Julia Makivic

Julia Makivic

"Say No! More" Alternative Controller

Project Brief

I was commissioned by the Thunderful Games publishing company to design an alternative controller for Say No! More, by Studio Fizbin. This controller would be used to demo the game at live conventions and would also be shown during Twitch steams.

Project Specifications

The original brief for the controller described a large scale interface where players would use all parts of their body to interact with the game. The arms would be used to quickly mash large buttons while the feet would stomp down on a Dance Dance Revolution style mat. However, the publishing company was open to any alternative controllers that would draw a crowd and allow players to engage with the game in a non-traditional manner.

Iterations and Final Outcome

The controller went through several initial prototypes including a gesture recognition interface using camera vision and machine learning. However, gesture recognition requires a monochrome background with minimal interference, therefore it might not always work in a crowded convention setting.

I settled on a design that utilizes a 9-Axis accelerometer to determine the orientation of the controller. The accelerometer had enough axes to accommodate each of the actions that a player could take in the game,

Gameplay and Controller Interface

The final controller is a hand-held device which players tilt in various directions in order to control the character in the game. The controller is made out of cardboard with the components stored safely inside. The visual design resembles a tape recorder which the player uses in the game. The arrows on the front surface show in which direction to orient the controller. An LED matrix in the bottom left depicts the direction in which the player directing the controller, confirming that they have made the right selection.

The box is covered in colorful and blocky details reminiscent of the imagery seen in the game. The mechanics of tilting the controller allow the player to swiftly react to unfolding events. The movement is fast and energetic and stands out from other controllers typically seen at conferences.

Technical Details

This controller is powered by an Arduino Leonardo, uses a 9-Axis accelerometer shield and an LED matrix.

Throughout the development of this project, I encountered a few technical difficulties with connecting Arduino and Unity. Eventually, I made the Arduino spoof a keyboard so that each rotation of the axes is tied to a specific keyboard key. This allows it to be seamlessly integrated into the game without requiring any changes to the software.