TimeWarp is an explorative outdoor Mixed Reality game that supports spatial, temporal and social presence. The key challenges this showcase adresses are:
- Implementing an interactive MR game in an urban environment – being in a public, uncontrolled and unrestricted area make high demands on the technology.
- Exploring MR in edutainment – which features make a mobile MR game successful.
- Investigating the MR-mediated user experience – how to support temporal and social presence using MR.
The background story of the game is the tale of the Heinzelmännchen of Cologne. This tale is about small elves, which helped the citizen of Cologne during night, although they were actually never observed. However, they suddenly disappeared, because a nosy tailor’s wife tried to have a peep on them.
This legend is taken up in the distant future, when small robots are being developed in Cologne who are supposed to help people in their households with the more mundane tasks. However, the robots develop self-consciousness and escape by means of time travelling into different time periods of Cologne.
The players take on the role of agents working for the so-called ChronoGuard and have to time travel themselves to visit Roman, Medieval and Future versions of Cologne in order to find – and possibly apprehend – the escapees. When they do, the little robots are typically facing some sort of problem that the players have to solve before they can send them back home. Instead of following their orders, the players also have the choice of freeing the robots which confronts them with a moral dilemma.
Each of the two players is equipped with an Ultramobile PC (UMPC).
One of the players serves as the navigator. He sees a map showing the surrounding area and their current location. The player can also interact with multiple choice dialogues with all the characters the players encounter. Furthermore the player can open and place time portals into the target time periods.
By utilizing the “magic lens” metaphor, the other player can see the virtual objects and characters superimposed onto the webcam stream of his UMPC. This player is able to manipulate virtual objects by aiming and clicking on them.
Positioning of the players is done via GPS, and an inertial sensor provides the orientation data.
Testruns with a total of 66 players have been conducted in Cologne in January and February 2010 and have been evaluated with regards to eliciting guidelines for Augmented Reality game design as well as temporal, spatial and social presence aspects.
An additional smaller study has been conducted in Christchurch, New Zealand, in early February 2010.
A video showing the final hand-held version:
More TimeWarp related media:
- TV coverage by German station “ZDF/3sat” in its magazine “nano” (broadcast on 31.01.2010)
- TV coverage by German station “ARD” in its magazine “W wie Wissen” (broadcast on 11.04.2010)
- Radio coverage by German station “DRadio Wissen”, “Virtuelle Zeitreise durch Köln” (broadcast on 19.01.2010)
- Audio-podcast by German Computer Club 2, “Eine Zeitreise mit Timewarp“, issue 205 (broadcast on 01.02.2010)
- Article in German weekly magazine “Focus” entitled “Ufos überm Rhein” (issue 9/2010, 01.03.2010)
- Article in German “Playboy” magazine entitled “Unwirklich real: Neuartige Games verknüpfen programmgenerierte Grafik mit der echten Umgebung des Spielers” (issue 04/2010)
- A video showing an older prototype which used a head-mounted display, as submitted to SIGGRAPH 2007