Derailed

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Basics
Derailed is a location-based mobile game designed to make the daily train commute entertaining.

Gameplay
Players form teams of up to 3 in order to battle goo monsters attacking their train by setting up weapons in the style of tower defense. When players get in a train car, they are automatically placed in the corresponding car in the game with other passengers in the same car. The integrated chat feature allows players to plan strategies for placing their weapons. At each stop along the commute, seamlessly synced with the game, a wave of monsters attack. The design spec (PDF) can be found here.

Design
Using a unique three-tiered system, players navigate between levels of the game organization with pinching and spreading gestures on the phone.

On the bottom level in the train car interior, the player places defenses and battles the attacking monsters (below).

With a pinch, the player can move up to the second level, the car overview (below). Here, the player can see what’s going on in other cars, and if others need help, come to their rescue.

Another pinch later, the player moves jump to the top level, the trip overview (below). Here, the player can track the progress of the commute — and the war.

To market the game, we envision an augmented reality ad campaign using posters on the train. Commuters can scan the QR code to see the current “owner”, or game leader. This will give the game leader a sense of ownership and other players an incentive to raise their rank in the game. We hope that this will intrigue non-players and encourage them to learn more.

Process
We began with an assignment to create a mobile app aimed at commuters. After conducting several semi-structured interviews with commuters by train, subway, bus, and car, we found that there is very little (if any) social interaction between people while commuting. We saw an opportunity to create a game that would bring commuters together for the brief time they share, and so the idea for Derailed was born. We created personas of people who might commute and used these personas to direct our design ideas. By iteratively brainstorming game design ideas, making wireframes, and vetting them with our classmates, we arrived at our final game design. Then, it was time to create the visuals. We created a mood board to set the tone and feel for our game, and using it to inspire our designs, we sketched, mocked up, and perfected our visuals.

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