PiNiZoRo is a GPS enabled, ubiquitous, and augmented reality iPhone game. The game was built for a study exploring the use of games as a method of encouraging family activity. The game is designed for children between the ages of 6-12, with the expectation that parents would also participate in the experience. Game maps can be created using a built in map editor that uses the iPhone's GPS to mark geographical waypoints and minigame events. PiNiZoRo can be played anywhere because the maps are built using Google Maps. So anywhere it's possible to get GPS positioning can be used as a game space, which solves the location specific problem that most AR games suffer from. The map editor also supports the creation of a fully interactive story to engage and entertain the players. We have also designed the system to support the sharing of maps with other players through the use of a web service, however this has yet to be implemented.
The map editor allows players to create interactive stories woven into their maps, but the game has it's own story to help engage players.
The secret underworld of pirates, ninjas, robots, and zombies has been hidden from society for hundreds of years. Their epic struggle has been but a whisper on the tongues of bards and madmen. No normal person would have any reason to believe that these creatures of myth even exist. But they do exist... and their violent and terrible war, the Hidden War, is poised to spill into our world, wreaking havoc on society and the world as we know it!
There is one group of mortal men and women who have dedicated their lives to keeping this war hidden from the world. They are the Letalis Vis or simply The Society. However, with the escalation of the Hidden War, The Society has grown weaker, decentralized, and leaderless. Operatives now work independently, documenting their work with detailed maps and notes, in hopes that others will join and take up the mantra: "nos es Letalis Vis Congregatio " or "We are the Moral Force Society".
The gameplay consists of two components. The first is a tresure hunt or travel game where players use the map to travel from their current position to the next destination on the map. This can be particularly engaging because it challenges the player to find their way through the real world using a digital game map . Travel is tracked using the GPS functionality of the iPhone and the events are triggered when the player reaches the next waypoint.
The second component are the mini-games, which are triggered when the player reaches a GPS location. Currently PiNiZoRo has a single mini-game, however when it's fully finished the game will have multiple for players to choose from.
The mini-game is a strategy fighting game. Players are provided with 4 helpers that aid the player in battle. Each helper has 3 attacks, 2 primary attacks and a finisher. Players must form combos with the attacks and then use a finisher to execute the combo. The enemy is able to interrupt and disrupt the players attacks forcing the player to think carefully about the moves, and when they're executed.
We have been play testing the game over the past few months, and feedback has been generally positive. Comments we have received have been consistent with what we observed in our own testing, and we look forward to improving the gameplay with new mini-games and art.
For PiNiZoRo I've taken the role of game designer. I've also performed QA responsibilities by running playtesting and interview sessions. The game has been developed by a talented group of 3 undergraduates: Alan Bandurka, Robert Kapiszka, and Shawn Webster.
We've published a academic paper about the game, which appeared at FuturePlay 2010:
Stanley, K., Livingston, I., Bandurka, A., Kapiszka, R., Mandryk, R.L. 2010. PiNiZoRo: A GPS-based Exercise Game for Families. In Proceedings of Future Play 2010, Vancouver, Canada. 1-4.