Thursday October 8th, 2014, Mouffe Team meets up at the Montreal airport to travel with the Mouffe tent for the first time as a team. We are going from Montreal Canada to Culver City California. Previously Mouffe was presented at Fantastic Arcade in Austin Texas but ran into a few technical difficulties due to the humidity in the air. We were hoping that we have resolved that issue for the coming event. The trip is long but worth it, we were accepted at Indiecade for an exhibition called Night Games, an event known for its active public participation and unique environment. Mouffe started out as an incubated game developed within the walls of TAG at Concordia University. What began as a game where all we wanted was to make a blanket became a fully atmospheric experience. The 6 weeks we spent working on Mouffe was going to shine at night during Indiecade. Little did we know what was going to happen.
On the first day of Indiecade we enjoyed the event as any other person would, we played cool new indie games and circulated around various talks presented by inspirational developers. All in the meanwhile we were spreading the word about Mouffe, hyping people up about something they couldn’t fully understand. The way we explained it was “It’s a game in a tent where you play with a blanket”. People found the concept very interesting and were making sure they wouldn’t forget about it during the Night Games event. What caught peoples attention the most was the physical implication of Mouffe. As opposed to most games, Mouffe is hands free in a general sense. You do need to make contact to a physical object to initiate interactions in the game but those actions can be done in any way the players feels. This freedom i believe got people excited and most of all curious.
It’s game day, literally, the game will be played and we grow nervous. We carried around the Mouffe bag most of the day, dropped it off at the tech tent and wandered around thereafter. As a team we went to a few more talks, spoke with a few more people but all we had in our minds was whether or not Mouffe was going to go well. In the most part we knew it’d do well since it was successful at previous events like the Google Showing in Montreal and Fantastic Arcade (excluding the outdoors issue). One problem we encountered which was slightly anticipated was getting a projector. The main technical component of Mouffe is the short-throw projector, without it the game can’t be played in a tent, which of course is a no go. We received our projector and were glad, however we faced another technical issue, the projectors were HDMI while none of the computers supported HDMI inputs.
Issue after issue and eventually it was all resolved, we had all our tech and were ready to set up. We were placed in a very nice spot between the Nintendo tent and the Oculus Silver Bullet trailer. The Oculus trailer was placed on astro-turf which would have worked beautifully with Mouffe to make it a more complete experience, but alas that wasn’t a possibility. Our location was comfortable and spacious, enough for people to gather around and view the installation.
We now had everything connected and ready to go, but before we can let people in to play the game we had to play test it ourselves and thankfully we did.
The problem we encountered previously at Fantastic Arcade came back to haunt us. It turns out that any level of humidity in the air was enough to trigger the conductive threading on the blanket. Every trigger was shooting rapidly and we had no way of stopping. Ben worked intensely on trying to figure out the solution. The root problem was that the ground was always active, so we had to figure out a way to remove that problem. Ben figured that if we remove the constant ground and put it back to the original system (having to use the body to maintain conductivity) we would be able to launch the game perfectly fine. Ben thought quick on his feet and fixed the problem. While we did have to compromise ease of use, the game was finally working as it should. We connected the ground to two key rings that had to be held by a player which limited the amount of interactivity since only 2 at a time were conductive, or so we thought.
Mouffe shone in every way possible. Having the game launch at night in a parking lot was perfect. The environment was perfectly dark and the tent light up like a firefly. People gathered around the tent to see the beautiful spectacle. All controlled by the players, Mouffe was a constant source of entertainment. The event lasted three hours and was packed the entire time. We had groups of 4 to 8 gather inside the tent, hold hands and play the game. People had fun and smiles were had. The experience was not timed, people stayed as long as they liked which generally lasted 5 minutes.
The night was long in the best way possible, we didn’t want it to end. Mouffe performed and resonated with the crowd a lot better than we ever expected. the quick fix Ben had made actually improved the communication with players in the tent. People held hands, rested on the floor of the tent and found unique ways to trigger the conductive thread. The limitless control of Mouffe made it something worth trying, something worth experiencing with a friend or stranger.