Aaron Uhrmacher
Winslow Turner Porter

Project Run Away

Project Run Away in an interactive story where each player is the main character trying to escape from the paparazzi with the help of the building's strange residents.


Introduction to Computational Media,Introduction to Physical Computing (Thu AM),Introduction to Physical Computing (Thu PM)

In this interactive story, you are the main character. An embarrassing picture of you has been published in a national magazine, and the paparazzi has your apartment staked out. WIth the help of the building's other residents, you must escape via the elevator without being detected by the throng of photographers.

On one floor, an artist asks you to help him finish his masterpiece before giving you his bead. On another, a crazy fan gives you her wig and distracts the paparazzi with her body. Make sure to get the red herring from the clown on the fourth floor to bribe the doorman on the ground level. And if you're successful with all of the objectives, you'll meet the building's janitor in the basement. The two of you might have more in common than you imagined.

The game is played via a video interface helping you move between the different floors of the building . In addition, there is a physical replica of the building at the kiosk with different parts of the disguise placed on each floor. As the player completes the task associated with the floor, an LED lights up the floor signifying it is unlocked and the player can remove and wear that part of the disguise. Only when the entire disguise is worn can the player unlock the final floor and complete the story.

The physical interface consists of a video camera used for color and motion tracking, a monitor to participate in the unfolding story and a physical replica of the building constructed of plexiglass to house the various pieces of the disguise. The code that runs the program was written in Processing.

(this project was co-created by Aaron Uhrmacher and Winslow Porter)

Both of us were fans of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books as kids, but we felt there was a way to do this more completely using interactive technologies. Aaron created a similar but much more simplistic version of this game for his ICM midterm, where the user had to help a main character reach the subway without getting beat up. But there was much more to explore.

In our research, we found many different types of choose your own adventure style games online, but the recipe is always the same. Users watch a video, click a button or vote to determine the next video, and then have to wait for the creators to count votes or film the next segment. What we wanted to do was set up something much more interactive so that the user wasn't just watching, but had the opportunity to play as well.

Our audience for this is pretty wide, but the focus is on those who enjoy games and stories, as well as people that keep up with popular culture and understand how the paparazzi can inhibit a celebrity's life.

User Scenario
The player is the main character. The story begins when the user steps up to the kiosk and watches the opening scene. An image of this person is captured. Next your assistant comes into the room and shows you a picture of a magazine with your picture on it (from the earlier screen capture) and an embarrassing headline.

He explains that the paparazzi have staked out the building and that he has a plan to help you escape. You must go to each floor of the building and help the resident on that floor complete a task. In exchange, the resident will give you a piece of a disguise. Only when you have the whole disguise will you be able to exit the building undetected.

You go over to the elevator. There is a physical replica of the building next to the screen with elevator buttons next to the corresponding floor. You push a button and go that floor, where you meet the resident. On one floor, it's a crazy artist. On another, it's the doorman. Each resident speaks to you and asks for help. The artist asks for your help completing a painting. He gives you his brush and a white canvas appears. As you pain, he thanks you and gives you his beard.

A superbrite LED lights up the painter's floor in the replica of the buliding, where a beard awaits. The user puts it on and moves to the next floor trying to complete the disguise.

There is a physical replica of the building made out of plexiglass. Each floor has a two way mirror in front so that you cannot see what is inside. When the user completes the floor, a superbrite LED illuminates the contents, and the user can open the door and put it on. Next to each floor is an elevator button constructed of force sensors. The appropriate amount of force on these buttons moves the elevator to the corresponding floor.

There is a video camera that is used for image capture, sound and motion detection.

There is a monitor/computer used to execute the program.

We have learned a tremendous amount in constructing this story, both in terms of user interaction and serial communication. Everything has been broken, both in theory as we tried to map out the story and in reality as we have coded and re-coded every piece.