A Networked Face Fighter

April 30, 2012

Face Fighter Networked

By now, many Torontonian New Media art lovers are familiar with Super Conveniently Head-Controlled Face Fighter 10987654321. Put simply, the game is a classic space shooter, except you control your ship through a face tracking interface. Moving your head from side to side maneuvers the ship, and nodding your head causes the ship to shoot a bullet. To create more interesting interactions with the game, Jonathan S├ęguin and I experimented with adding a networked layer to the piece for some multiplayer shoot’em up action.

We were initially intrigued with the idea of creating a “spontaneous multiplayer mode.” Users would play through the game as though it were a regular, single-player Face Fighter experience, up until the point where a second user connects to the game server. Once this happens, the first player’s game would be interrupted with a “warning” signal, shortly followed by the introduction of the second player’s purple ship. Players would engage each other in a teeth-grinding duel, created by a continuous series of speedy decisions — “should I shoot or dodge at this moment?”

Face Fighter Networked Screenshot Full

Another concept that struck us was the notion of replacing a boss’ AI with an additional user’s input. This case would be similar to the scenario outlined above, except the second player sprite might be the giant boss head we never ended up using for the game. This way, both players wouldn’t suspect that they are in a networked experience, but instead assume that they are facing a boss with a sophisticated AI.

We did end up creating a prototype for the first outlined scenario (two ships facing off against one another). In the prototype, basic functionality for transmitting and receiving movement from both players simultaneously was developed.

The idea of “spontaneous networking” has excited us to create more iterations of the game with this networked layer. We would like to test user’s behaviours and reactions in this context to see whether or not human input is identifiable, even behind a computer interface and graphics.