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Zeta creates an interactive game for world exhibition

George Grover

The Embedded World Exhibition & Conference in Nuremberg is where around 1000 exhibitors present their state of the art technology for embedded technology. The event attracts over 30,000 designers, developers and decision makers. These people live in a world of high pressure with meetings, targets and unrelenting cost pressure, when do they have the space and latitude for creativity?

The challenge for exhibitors is immense. It’s more than attracting visitors to actually look at the stand. It's getting them onto the stand and then sufficiently engaged to stay awhile. A busy stand with lots of activity, discussions and engagement will attract even more visitors, they will queue up to get on a vibrant stand. But how to achieve this?

Mouser approached Zeta to think of ways to attract visitors onto their stand. The Zeta plan was for the Mouser booth to have a really engaging fun distraction that would still be technically relevant. It would draw people in so that the Mouser team would have the opportunity to engage with new people in a relaxed informal way.

The idea

The Zeta team put their thinking caps on and came up with the idea for an interactive game that can be played easily at a major event. The exhibition environment doesn’t really give the time to learn a new game. So the idea was for the game to be based on a popular existing idea which would mean the visitors would be able to quickly connect with the concepts and controls during their short visit to the stand. Our concept was to create something based on the classic and popular Frogger game. This would fulfill the brief and provide a superb opportunity to incorporate the Mouser branding.

Mouser operates a 750,000 sq ft warehouse that processes orders 24/7, which prompted us to think that a warehouse would be an ideal theme for the game. The visitor would play a robot that picks up parcels and drops them into delivery trucks at the end of the warehouse. To achieve this the robot has to avoid obstacles such as fork lift trucks that get in the way of the robots progress. The more parcels successfully dropped into the delivery trucks the faster the various obstacles will move to test the players skills. The setting of the game provided an excellent platform for marketing and brand awareness with the Mouser logo prominent on the forklifts and sponsors logos could feature on top of the moving boxes.

Top players were awarded prizes

The game had to be competitive, we achieved this by scoring the players and running a daily leaderboard that everyone could see. Prizes were awarded to the top payers on each day of the event which created a really fun environment and so appealed to our visitors competitive natures.

Contact details were collected by barcode

Visitors to the exhibition had a ticket with a scannable barcode that contained their contact details, very useful for capturing details before they joined the game. And of course it enabled Mouser to keep in touch with the winners in the future. We saved these details along with the scores in Firebase as it had the added benefits of syncing the high score leaderboard across the multiple devices running the game and working with the slow internet at the event.

Creating the game

The game was made in Unity as although it was only going to be used on the one platform at the event, Mouser wanted to keep options open for publishing the game on other platforms such as iOS and Google Play store. It all worked out very well, we created a fun 2D frogger style game that was connected up to a TV and played using a bluetooth controller.

It is very work intensive re-designing and modifying a game, it requires great team work. During the testing processes we could see that some changes were needed to slightly simplify the game to make the levels easier for people to pick up and play whilst on the stand. We spent time tweaking the game to change the speed and amount of points awarded to keep the game fair with varying levels of difficulty. To ensure the game played well all the Zeta staff got involved playing it and that certainly bought out everyone’s competitive edge! We really put the game through its paces. What better way to conduct thorough stress testing, the vital strategy for a game designed to be played by hundreds of people at an event.

At the event

With the game all set and ready to go the Zeta team flew to The Embedded World Exhibition & Conference in Nuremberg. To launch at this exhibition with its visitor numbers and in sight of a 1000 other exhibitors was the perfect testing ground and a great way for our team to increase its knowledge of the electronics industry whilst supporting the Mouser team on the stand.

The event ran over three days and from the word go the game proved to be a great success. It worked exactly as we have envisaged attracting large crowds around the stand. Over a 1000 people played the game and with the added incentive of Mouser giving away free Dev Kits to the top players the competitive spirit created the buzz with visitors trying to beat the high scores on the day.

The game proved itself in every way, it was really popular and people enjoyed playing and Mouser got the interaction with visitors they wanted. We are now looking to release an improved version onto the App Store with even more levels and a possible global leaderboard. We found that scanning barcodes on the stand could be quite tricky so an improvement to implement is to use a Bluetooth Barcode Scanner in place of the camera. It will be more accurate and speed up the process of getting the players into the game.

We have learned a great deal through the whole process of originating the concept, creating the design, running a rigorous test regime and finally delivering the game into a real live environment working with the Mouser team on the stand.