Workshop GaMe
Game
Art Multiplex Experiment
Ecole Supérieure d'Art d'Aix-en-Provence
January/February 2007

 

 

 

Guest: John Klima:

John Klima employs a variety of technologies to produce artwork with hand-built electronics, and computer hardware and software. Consistently connecting the virtual to the real, Klima builds large scale electro-mechanical installations driven by 3D game software he programs from scratch. The virtual computer imagery mirrors and extends the potential and agency of the physical components to produce cohesive worlds that are both humorous and sinister.

John Klima's website: http://www.cityarts.com

John Klima on ondation Langlois' website http://www.fondation-langlois.org


Aim of the workshop:

 

The aim of this workshop is to associate software tools and interactive physical devices over the network and to allow to control real mechanical devices from a 3D game and vice versa.

In a way it is the follow up to the first workshop IDRE (Intelligence Over the Network) which took place in the Aix-en-Provence School of Art in January 2006. This workshop will add the virtual environment to the interactivity.

Using OPEN SOURCE tools managed by a community of developers is the second objective of this workshop. The students will be able to learn and use the different open-source tools proposed by LaOS: Laboratory of the Open Source.

For this we will create a sort of real life-size game including two parts:

-          the virtual environment: the 3D game created with Torque Game Engine (TGE)

-          the real environment : using electronic sensors and interactive devices

 

Tools:

 

Blender:   http://www.blender.org/

Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
Blender will be used to create several 3D objects that will be imported into Torque and animated. These objects will be controlled by the script and interaction of the real time interface.

Torque Game Engine (TGE) : http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque/tge/

Torque is a whole game development approach. It is a very complete and multi-platform (PC, OSX, Linux or even XBox360) 3D engine for developers.
Some
pre-existing geometries and environment can be imported into Torque and modified. Some other can be created from scratch with Blender.

PicoIP:  http://jmandon.free.fr/picoip1/picoip1.html
PicoIP is the interface between the 3D game throught the network and the mechanical systems.
It is an OPEN SOURCE project started in 2000 by Jean-Pierre Mandon in order to control remote systems from the network. Conceived around a PC network card and a RISC processor, the goal of the project was to build a network communication system using a processor 100 times slower than those which equipped the majority of computers. The processor that fits out PicoIP today is 100 000 times slower than a PENTIUM 4 at 4 Ghz.

Several versions of PicoIP, developed by a community of developers, were born. The version used for the workshop IDRE is the version 2.3 which was modified to drive devices with Pure Data. A specific I/O card was created by LOEIL integrating the basic functions and protocol needed to drive devices, this I/O card is directly compatible with PicoIP.


 

The Project:




The first day of the training course was devoted to the presentation of John Klima’s artwork as well as a presentation of the project.


The tools required for the realization of the workshop were installed on the Linux machines from LaOS, what was not-so-simple stuff…!

The following days have been spent trying to get familiar with the different needed tools: Blenders, Torque, PicoIP, C programming, electronic interfaces…
 
Then came the time to have a discussion about the goal of the game we will build and how to do it.
 
After a long brain storming and several fervent discussions we finally mange to agree on a common project: we will build a game questioning the relation we have with any kinds of animals and the different behaviours we adopt with them.
 
We decide to take the dog since it is the most familiar and domesticated pet.
 
Though the camera will be above the dog, the game will be played from the prospective of the dog.

The two players’ actions will interact on a virtual dog walking on a path.
The treatment which will be inflicted on the dog depends upon which player is winning (good side or bad side).

 

We decided to opposite the good and bad treatments we could have toward an animal and to create a game for two players. The two interfaces will have a different and opposite functioning: one will have to be very kindly manipulated (round interface) and the other one will respond to an aggressive behaviour (interface with spikes)



The sensors used are: (for each interface)
-          1 capacitive sensor with 4 electrodes (QT140): enables to detect the speed at which we caress or touch the interface.
-          2 Microphones: to detect how loud we are speaking to the interface (inspired by animal’s ears)
-          3 touch sensors: to detect how often certain parts of the interfaces are touched (inspired by animal’s tail and ears)
-          2 light sensors: to detect if hidden (inspired by animal’s eyes)
-          1 tilt sensor: to detect if the interface is rocked or shaken (two different sensitivities)
 
 


The two players’ actions will interact on a virtual dog walking on a path.

The treatment which will be inflicted on the dog depends upon which player is winning (good side or bad side).

For example the dog can:
-          be transformed into food symbolising food industry (its head appears in the middle of a dish)
-          be attacked by a huge lipstick symbolising all kind of animal experimentations the industry can do to develop superfluous make up
-          be attacked by a huge syringe symbolising all kind of animal experimentations the industry can do to develop useful drugs
-          be treated like a pet, like a human (plenty of nice foods offered in its dog bowl)
-          be used to guide blind people
 
It is not a Manichean vision of animal treatments, there is a scale notion (symbolizing by a life bar) and a relation between the comfort of the dog and the benefit brought to human for example in animal experiments for the experimentation and development of useful drugs. (Ii.e. utilitarian vision of animal).