For my midterm assignment in The New Arcade I wanted to create a hand tracking interface for a game I am developing as part of my thesis project. The game, intended as social commentary, puts the player in a first person experience of working on an assembly line sorting boxes in an Amazon style warehouse. This was inspired by an article I read about Amazon using games to increase worker performance to the detriment of workplace satisfaction.
For the game level design I started with building conveyor belt components that I could repurpose as prefabs to construct various level layouts later. Fortunately there are a ton of Unity tutorials on YouTube for conveyor belts.
After some play testing for my initial level design I found that giving the player too many platforms to control (the ones in blue) made the interface confusing. How do you know the relationship between the physical interface buttons and platforms?
For the input device, used to control the rotation of platforms marked in blue, I explored a couple of different shapes in cardboard. Ultimately I found it much more comfortable to push buttons while using a palm rest and went with the boxier design (top) instead of the more angular design (bottom).
Following Mark Kleback’s suggestion I spent some time becoming familiar with the Leap Motion Controller to handle 3D hand tracking. Though the hardware is about a decade old the software support is still being actively developed by its parent company UltraLeap and comes with robust Unity support.
I initially hoped to develop my game on a Mac but found the UltraLeap support significantly better with Windows and moved my development there.
The game starts with an intro asking new “workers” to touch all buttons. Capacitive touch buttons are hidden on the underside of the physical arcade buttons to sense hand placement. For the rest of the game players are required to keep their hands on the buttons or risk being fired.
Player “productivity” is tracked by how many boxes they manage to sort correctly per minute.
There are still game mechanics to improve but this feels like a really good start!