Interactive whiteboards aren’t new. But just how interactive they are, and just how accessible they are for the typical home consumer, are both shifting dramatically thanks to technologies like Microsoft’s Kinect. Doodle Defense is a gleeful manifestation of the trend. It’s a tower defense game by Andy Wallace, stemming from his Parsons class final, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
In case you’re unfamiliar with tower defense games, the basic premise is that waves and waves of tiny bad guys march their way from one side of the screen to the other. The game is to stop the bad guys by building defensive towers to reshape their path (constructing a maze) and blow them up.
In other words, a tower defense game is perfect fodder for Wallace’s design, which uses a whiteboard, projector, and Kinect to track a player’s doodles in real time. These doodles then dictate the actions of projected monsters. You draw your battlefield. “I love when an interaction feels like magic, and while I think the game is a good one and I’ve put a lot of work into making it fun, the biggest reaction I get whenever I demo it comes from putting that first line on the board,” admits Wallace. “That’s not how people are used to dealing with a computer. Seeing a projected creature avoid a line that I drew in reality just feels special because it shouldn’t happen, but there it is.”
Wallace has created a fresh game that’s proven exciting to crowd-funders, but he’s the first to admit that, technically speaking, Doodle Defense isn’t really that complex. “I had to be a bit clever in terms of how and when I take the picture so that the images being projected don’t get picked up,” Wallace writes us, “but the game is essentially a simulation run on a still image that gets updated every time the player draws something.”
It’s a bit ironic. The Kinect and PS3 EyeToy/Move–which are the most technologically complex peripherals on the market–have continued to inspire the independent game community more than the mainstream. The phenomenon is akin to the rise of experimental video, which was fueled by inexpensive camcorder and VCR (and then nonlinear editing) technology. And just as we’ve watched the YouTube auteur take over mainstream consciousness, it’s not hard to imagine the same future for game designers backed less by big budgets than their own visions for inventive interactions.
[Hat tip: Engadget]