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TRIPAD

minimalist 3-player game art installation

Designed by Alexander Krasij (@o3a)

TRIPAD has been exhibited as part of the Indiecade showcase at E3 2015,
at GDC 2015 during the Experimental Gameplay Workshop session
and in the Alt.Ctrl.GDC 'alternative controller' exhibit.

The TRIPAD device is a touch-controlled multiplayer game 'platform', designed for three simultaneous players. It is constructed from three Novation LaunchPad Mini devices arranged in a special configuration, controlled via MIDI commands. Each of the three players is provided with 80 input buttons, which double as 'pixels'.

The first game made for TRIPAD is a simulation of a soccer training drill that my two brothers, a friend and I invented. The goal of the drill is for each player to maintain possession of the ball for as long as possible. Due to the chaotic, sometimes violent and physically demanding nature of the training exercise, we would refer to the game as 'The Gladiatorial Event'. I am proud to present 'Gladiatorial' as the first game specifically designed for the TRIPAD.

Here is an example 'Gladiatorial' gameplay session:

The only graphical output built into the device is the 3-color 8x8 LED matrix of each pad itself, with two additional 1x8 rows flanking the bottom edges of each pad. A computer powering the device could also provide additional graphics on a regular computer screen, but it is not required. The built-in lo-fi graphical output enables an interesting design restriction, which encourages design that is simple to understand and can contain surprising depth. It also puts a greater emphasis on sound design.

Here is footage of 'Gladiatorial' being played in a low-light social environment:

The diagonal grid configuration connects rows and columns of each pad to rows or columns on each of the other two pads. This layout naturally encourages interaction between all three playing surfaces. The platform can support a wide array of minimalist game designs, covering different genres. The initial focus is on action and strategy, both as 1v1v1 'versus' experiences and co-op. Two TRIPADs can also be utilized in tandem, combining team-based co-op and versus multiplayer.

When exhibited in public, the TRIPAD is mounted on a stand that accommodates three players standing around the device on all sides. The stand also allows for three spectators to observe the action, standing in the spaces between each pair of players.

The following video is the first working test of the hardware and software. It shows a 'Gladiatorial' gameplay session being slowly walked through by myself using one hand, while recording the video with the other.

My first exposure to 3-player gameplay, which provided additional inspiration for this project, was the classic fighting game 'IK+' for the Commodore 64. Three-player 'versus' is an underrepresented category of games, providing a unique feel and level of interaction between the participants. The TRIPAD seeks to uncover possibilities and inspire further development in the area of 3-player multiplayer games.