Open-World Augmented Reality Game
Business Problem behind the Product
Experimenting with Augmented Reality in our AR/VR Lab, we enjoyed the new experience brought by the technology, but at the same time saw some obstacles to mass distribution of AR – costly devices and lack of high quality content built with AR in mind. A request from Blacksnowgames, Inc. to create an AR game became a unique chance to put into practice our expertise in Augmented Reality, mobile and game development and to demonstrate our prospective customers that immersion effect of holographic goggles like MS HoloLens can be achieved on regular smartphones with no extra hardware and no time-consuming pre-calibration procedures.
The idea for the game was to create an atmosphere of an interactive sci-fi blockbuster happening around in the real scenery, at physical location. To eliminate lengthy space analysis procedure, we decided to take the action into the sky.
AR Game Development under the Hood
After finalizing the idea of the AR game, we began its development based on Unity at fast pace. First, we needed to create an open world AR settings to allow players to explore freely without distracting the immersion effect. To contribute to player’s immersion through hearing and tactile sensation we combined graphic alignment with surround sound and haptic feedback. Accurate player geo-positioning was important for correct placement of the player in the game scene, so we integrated the game with a cartographic service and achieved stable result based just on GPS.
One of our aims was to eliminate time-consuming pre-calibration procedures. For this purpose, we used calibrations hidden from the player. Thus, we managed to make AR gameplay immediately accessible.
Many tasks that we had to solve were unique and beyond the reach of usual game development tools. One of such tasks was switching between a map view and a first person view. To do this quickly and flawlessly, we developed a complex shaders processing system from scratch.
Since the game is so versatile and fully engages with the player, it employs almost every sensor a modern smartphone has – cameras for better gameplay impression, compass and GPS for positioning, gyroscope and accelerator for haptic control, etc.
After mastering the technicalities of a mobile AR game, we looked closer at how attractive the game was for players.
Making the Gameplay to impress
In addition to cool AR effects, we wanted to make the Black Snow game engaging and multidimensional.
Features combining AR appeal and plot thrill:
- Global geo-game deployment
- Real-time multiplayer capabilities
- Combining several game mechanics - cards collection game, geo game, and AR game
- Cinematic gameplay
- Open world AR
- Positioning AR objects on the map
- Fascinating game art - 3D visuals and special effects
We managed to meet our Customer’s aim – create a really innovative and properly functioning AR game that organically mixes physical and virtual realities and provides an engaging plot on a smartphone. This innovative augmented reality mobile game in aerial bio-punk setting absorbs the player from the first moments.
Black Snow AR game is now going through a soft launch. It is already available for iPhones on App Store in Sweden, Israel, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, and other countries. The plan is to further extend the geography and port the game to Android in near future.
Vlad Beck, Board Member and AR/VR evangelist at Sigma Software, says:
“It took us some time to fully lock and load the understanding of how this AR game should look like. Now, when it is sprung to life, I really like the intense game experience we created and the simulation of large scale mixed reality of the game implemented on a regular smartphone.”
Development of this open world AR game involved many hours of R&D that turned into valuable experience and holdings, including an AR game engine, a shaders processing system, and geo positioning domain knowledge, etc. Based on the AR game engine, we are now capable to develop AR games for smartphones with extended functionality and in short terms.