Computer History Museum
- Vintage Game Installation
- AS3 / Flash
- UX Consulting, UI Design, Flash Production & Programming, Installation Consulting
"Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing"
Revolution is a 25,000 square foot, multimedia experience that will immerse visitors in the sights, sounds and stories of the computer revolution. More than 1,000 artifacts from the Museum's vast collection will be on view, including rare computers, audio and video, photographs, games, and hands-on displays. Revolution also features more than 100 media stations and three mini-theaters. We collaborated with curators to produce the interactive game exhibit for Revolution. The games we produced, along with information graphics and videos, are apart of the exhibits overall narrative to share the experience of gaming at various levels of early development. Our contribution allows visitors to play some of the most influential video games from the era of early computing. Each game presented unique challenges in recreating the original, authentic experiences. AVANT developed a framework approach for the exhibit devised to trigger different states and attract modes, with custom features implemented for each game. User inputs are different for each game (Adventure uses a keyboard whereas Pong uses wheels), so our game framework handles I/O from USB controllers custom fabricated for the exhibit. Each game required in-depth research and Quality Assurance testing to ensure that the exhibit game retained parity with the original game released decades ago. Adventure, for example, is a text based game with thousands of potential paths and combinations - much like a choose your own adventure book - but way larger. For Space Wars, the original game used a unique phosphorus glass which generated a luminescent visual trailer on the space ships and missiles, which we recreated using code in the game framework. We took painstaking care to recreate each tiny detail for every game, even redrawing Pacman original art pixel-by-pixel to ensure that the original grittiness of the game represents accurately on the high quality LCD monitors used in the exhibit. Although each game is very different, the implementation of each game is designed to fit as a family to maintain continuity within the exhibit.
Adventure Game Play Screen
Each game has a "skin" based on the technology or packaging from its original release. Adventure was a text-only experience, so we used visual type solutions in the design of this game.
Adventure Attract Mode
Each game has an "attract mode" to intrigue visitors to interact with the game console. Since Adventure was a text-only game, we used type and animation to illustrate objects from the game narrative.
As text-based game, ironically Adventure (originally called Colossal Cave Adventure) offered the greatest variety of imagery from our research. When people played Adventure, they would illustrate large maps of the game to follow along with during the game Play We discovered entire of libraries of hand-drawn illustrations - much like one would find in the Dungeons and Dragons communities, or in its more modern form in Zelda - outlining how to get from room to room and place to place.
Pacman Game Play Screen
Pacman was a square game, and the monitors we needed to design for were conventional LCD screens. This left quite a bit of space to integrate graphics from the original arcade experience.
Pacman Attract Mode
The attract mode for Pacman is a combination of 3D game Play videos and animated character artwork from packaging and the game experience.
For each animation in the attract mode, we sketched and illustrated each sequence for committee review by curators of the museum to validate its relevance to the exhibit and to the original game experience. These storyboards illustrate the one of the attract mode concepts: the viewing of Pacman game Play from multiple 3D perspectives.
This is a page from our research documentation. Like many vintage games, Pacman has had many rebirths from arcade to home console. We decided to use the influence from the original arcade experience to guide our implementation of game Play and visual design.
Pong Game Play Screen
The format for Pong is slightly different because it is on a much larger screen then the other games in the exhibit. Pong was probably the simplest game to design for, given the original graphic treatment is the purest game UI, and the display for the game was intended to effect the viewer based on sheer scale rather then additional graphic representations of the game.
Pong Attract Mode
Like the game Play mode, the attract mode for the Pong game is very simple. Using paddle and ball metaphor from the game, visitors are encouraged to interact with the console. There are also multiple "Tron-like" animation sequences (shown below) of the game Play experience.
Given the simple and pure form of the graphics in Pong, we also created a concept of the game Play of pong in an extreme 3D space.
Although our research into the history of Pong revealed several "brands" of the game as depicted here, we used the purest elements from game Play in our implementation of the exhibit. Not only did this provide clarity for the visuals of the game, it contributes to the impact the game has on viewers since it is presented at a much larger scale then the other games.
Space Wars Game Play Mode
Space Wars was originally on a much larger screen then what was available for the exhibit, and it was circular screen. We utilized the surrounding area of the game to explain the complex controls and brand the game for the exhibit space. The original game had a unique phosphorus glass that generated a trailer effect on the spaceships during flight - which we generated using scripting to match the original.
Space Wars Attract Mode
The attract mode is based on a sensationalized version of the game, with the same graphic rocket ships attacking each other in a 3D space.
Storyboard: Space Wars
This storyboard demonstrates how we presented the concept for the attract mode for Space Wars: a sensationalized 3D representation of the game Play experience.
Research: Space Wars
Our research revealed that Space Wars never made it out of the garage - there aren't any marketing or design materials to review and influence the exhibit version of the game. Therefore, we produced our own "branded" version of the game (seen above) to demonstrate its potential in the marketplace had it been distributed.