I’ve always wanted to game-jam, so when the opportunity came…

Team Trolley VR

Mayhem all wrapped up in one big weekend blast of mass pizza and furniture clatter.  Friday night the theme was released globally (Apt for a global game jam): Home, make something about home – and we were off…supermarket stress?, long trails of childhood forgetting about everything except self?, cocoons?, no…IKEA, of course.  Happily I had landed in the company of Dundee’s highly creative and cool Biome Collective, which meant that they’d already been plotting to subvert the controller paradigm for a while now.  Their goal was to create an experimental, sculptural type of controller, something different.  A shopping trolley was ideal.  My goal was to join in….we all put our thinking caps on, tossed around a few ideas and landed on the Ikea idea within a couple of hours…Ikea…shopping trolley…ahah!

Overnight I had another inspiration…this has to be a shopping spree at an Ikea store for the family dog, surely! (I was the game writer, so I gave myself license) with furniture falling from the ceiling, like wild, free-falling bone bonus explosions in a mass scavenger hunt (Don’t ask me why, that’s just how I saw it…mind you we were all seeing and thinking together that weekend, so I’m not even sure if that was my idea or, was it me, or my team?Rhoda Ellis (virtual environment construction, notepad), Niall Moody (audio, blender, quirky inspiration) and Mike Enoch (Unity programming by preference, Unreal by necessity that weekend, not his choice, but his capability in the end – well done Mike!) were each and every one inventive and skilled – a pleasure to jam with.

It was all coming together.  On Saturday I wrote up a script and -amazingly – one of the other jammers generously volunteered to act the part – so we recorded voice-over and special effects in the next room.

Here are a few excerpts from the script.  It was pretty basic – an intro and how to, followed by a series of one-line responses to catching the furniture (like catching a stick really!) and alternate one-line response to splattering those flat packs all over the place….oh, and of course there had to be an AI translator (push button control on the trolley) to translate woof into words.

When the AI translator is turned on…Fidor the dog can change positions with each line of text

  • Do you want to be happy? C’mon! 
  • Be happy, throw me a stick– throw it to Fidor eh?
  • ho ho, I LOVE your flat-packed sticks and we both know where we to get bones in a choice of colours don’t we! (chases its tail playfully)
  • is IKEA (pants in delight, tongue hangs out in delirium)… I’ve seen how happy it makes you. It makes me happy too (rubs head in player’s face).
  • You shop the IKEA flash sale, Fidor chews packing cases
  • and we both toss flat-packed sticks.
  • Let’s go! Let’s go IKEA!  …..(runs off ahead)

Directions come on screen on text…

Follow Fidor for your IKEA shopping bonanza. He knows where the Ikea furniture sale flows and will help you chase those flat-packed sticks.  The more you catch, the happier your home, the better your discount.  But remember, you have to be in just the right place at just the right time to catch those flash sales!

(Fidor barks in the distance)

Run to Fidor to catch as much as you can!

(Notes – not displayed)

  • Each clattering stream of furniture only lasts for a few seconds, so Fidor runs to the next tossing position just prior to the impending deluge, to signal the bonanza to come. If players can manoeuvre the trolley to that position in time, they get the entirety of that flush of furniture.
  • As a challenge, Fidor will occasionally call the player to toss them an IKEA gem…but first the players have to dislodge it from their towering stash, without all the stuff toppling on top of them.

Random lines of dialogue from Fidor

Selection of possible lines when players get to the mark in time and collect all the booty

  • Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know about IKEA.
  • YES!…Don’t go to a psychiatrist, just go to IKEA.
  • You know if shopping is an art, the IKEA catalogue is a masterpiece
  • There’s no dust on our multi-coloured bones!
  • YES! The ghosts of old furniture are ready to die!
  • Sweet, the easy road is just an armchair in disguise
  • YES! From flat-packs to expandable stick in under 30 seconds!

(When the player misses their mark)

  • Get your trolley on! If you buy something cheap and it falls apart just think of it as rental.
  • Don’t doubt yourself… If you buy something that is wrong for you, you can return it.
  • Last minute shopping never works – let’s get lively!
  • If we miss the flash sale you’ll have to take out a serious loan to afford my kennel
  • No violence please, think of the furniture!
  • Can you hear the rumble? That’s your furniture getting away from you!
  • It’s not bed time yet. Get your hunger on and keep chasing sofa.
  • An empty room is just waiting for the IKEA sale
  • Vacant trolleys just make me think who else nabbed my kennel? 
  • Star Trek characters never go shopping, that’s why their clothes are so bad and you know what they say…when you’re lost in space it’s time to buy new furniture!

(When Fidor wants the player to throw them an IKEA gem)

  • You don’t want to just sit in a chair, you want to throw it.

When Niall had to go elsewhere on the Sunday I took over the audio mixing (examples included below) and ended up downloading a lot of additional sfx as well.  The results weren’t too bad…even if we never did manage to get a dog in the VR visuals.  Sunday 5pm came too soon!

Never mind, the trolley ride trumped everything.  It was hooked up with the virtual world.  As you moved around in real life (RL), so too the virtual world (VR) revolved around you and the furniture tumbled and fell and clattered.

And here is a taste of that audio:


Example 1


Example 2