Hans’ Hulpbrigade

Posted on 27-08-2016

In the first half of the 4th year at the HKU we were put into teams and assigned projects. Our group was given a project in cooperation with Museumwerf Vreeswijk, a museum about inland waterway shipping. They had an unused steering cabin on their terrain and wanted to fill it with a game that would appeal to children. The cabin had a steering wheel and a gas pedal, which we were allowed to modify.

A blueprint of the steering cabin

A blueprint of the steering cabin

Although it seemed like a great opportunity, the project didn’t go over easily. The client had lots of requests, ranging from a working interactive installation to a fully fledged game/simulation. After 2 months of not settling on anything, we decided to be bold and push a concept which we thought would be a good fit. In this concept the player would take on the roll of a Bob the builder-esque character, who would sail around town and help out local townsfolk with a big water hose attached to the boat. These ‘missions’ ranged from extinguishing a fire to rescuing a cat from a tree.

The in-game boat is controlled by a physical gas lever and steering wheel, which control the velocity and steering respectively. There’s also a joystick with a big green button, which allows people to aim and fire the big water hose.

The map of Vreeswijk

The map of Vreeswijk

Although we had a team of 3 artists and 2 programmers (myself included), time was not our side. Because the client kept rejecting our ideas we had a little over a month to build a prototype which would be displayed in the cabin for visitors. An even bigger problem would be the controls, since we used physical items for the user to interact. Luckily the budget allowed us to hire an outsider, who took care of the interaction between the physical world and the computer. The main reason we managed to create a fully working prototype was due to our team. We had outstanding communication, which in turn allowed us to all play to our strengths.

A quick peek of the final result

A quick peek of the final result

Hans’ Hulpbrigade is currently on display in Museumwerf Vreeswijk.

Main learning experiences:

  • - Working on boat physics
  • - Working with Uniduino
  • - Working with a client
  • - Creating (small) tools our artists could use for world building
  • - Creating a prototype under time pressure
  • - Designing missions and a fictional world