Augmented Reality (AR) is Here to Stay: ScavengeAR and Triviatron

Augmented Reality (AR) is Here to Stay: ScavengeAR and Triviatron

SIGGRAPH 2017 saw the advent of mobile augmented reality gaming experience ScavengeAR and its built-in game Triviatron. Thanks to these gaming experiences, SIGGRAPH 2017 became a playground where attendees could experience, first-hand, the potential of AR, while learning interesting facts about the SIGGRAPH conference, the ACM SIGGRAPH organization, and other fun, CG-related facts.

To learn more about the beginnings of ScavengeAR and Triviatron, check out this article from 2017.

With SIGGRAPH 2018 around the corner, ScavengeAR and Triviatron are back with a new look and more features for the enjoyment of all attendees. The brains behind ScavengeAR are, once again, Casey Kwock (associate producer, Outright Games) and Zeb Wood (co-director and lecturer, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis – IUPUI). This year, Triviatron was led by ACM SIGGRAPH International Resources Committee (IRC) volunteer Ivan Aguilar (Ph.D. student, Simon Fraser University). In a conversation with these three longtime SIGGRAPH volunteers, we had the opportunity to talk about their motivation, the challenges of bringing the app and the game to SIGGRAPH, and what attendees should expect for the Vancouver edition.

SIGGRAPH: In your opinion, and based on feedback, how was ScavengeAR / Triviatron received in 2017?

Casey Kwock (CK): We didn’t have any expectations last year. The team came together to find a way to contribute to the conference and we were excited to see so many attendees playing. They even commented that they went to events and programs just because there was a sigglet* to find.
Zeb Wood (ZW): Despite not being able to attend SIGGRAPH 2017, I knew from the response of colleagues, friends, and my students — who happend to be student volunteers (SVs) — that the reception and adoption of ScavengeAR was greater than we expected in its first year. I hope we have steady growth in the number of attendees downloading the app during SIGGRAPH 2018!
Ivan Aguilar (IA): Last year, Triviatron reached a considerable audience [of attendees] who were very eager to answer all the trivia questions. We had easy questions, but also some hard ones; however, everyone could come to the International Center to get a bit of help in winning the game.

SIGGRAPH: What made you pursue ScavengeAR/Triviatron once again in 2018? Who supported you?

CK: One of the initial goals of the app was to provide a way for members of the CG community to give back to conference. This doesn’t change just cause it’s a new year. Our goal is to keep app development going as a part of SIGGRAPH and update the gameplay and content each year.
ZW: Both this year and last, the core motivation for me to work with the ScavengeAR and Triviatron groups, apart from getting to communicate with old SIGGRAPH friends, is having my students on the project. It has been a really cool experience for them to get to be integrated into an international team and mobile app production pipeline. It’s a much more realistic experience for them than making their own projects at school. I’m very thankful for Casey and the rest of the team’s participation, and their inclusion of our students from our Media Arts and Science program at the School of Informatics and Computing.
IA: I enjoy working in teams and trying new technologies. Last year, I worked on the AR part of ScavengeAR. This year, as an IRC member, I led the team that created Triviatron. I wanted to help more this year and leading the game was a great way to do that. I had an entire team to support, who in the end did all the work … and a great job.

SIGGRAPH: What is new in ScavengeAR/Triviatron? What has changed from the 2017 version?

CK: New sigglets, new art direction, and online support for saving and profiles.
ZW: Our student team scaled their art pipeline when it came to creating more sigglets this year. I think we made far more than SIGGRAPH 2018 needed. We also have user tracking and communication support.
IA: In our Triviatron 2018 version we have divided the game into two game modes: “Classic” and “Endurance.” In the “Classic” mode, the player must answer correctly 10 trivia questions to win the game. In the “Endurance” mode, there are 30 questions that must be answered correctly, but the player has “3 lives” to do it in. We introduced this change to make the game more attractive and fun to play. Now there are more gameplay options, allowing for a more challenging experience.

SIGGRAPH: What challenges did you face this year with ScavengeAR/Triviatron?

CW: Development time was a challenge. Since the app was developed by volunteers, the team’s availability was limited and we had to plan accordingly. Everyone needed to be flexible in order to maneuver through any roadblocks we encountered. There was so much going on this year for everyone and I am proud that everyone stepped up to bring it all together.
ZK: We had a fairly new set of team members. Only one student, Amanda Papandreou, worked both this and last year on the app. This definitely helped, as she knew what common mistakes the team made the previous year. For everyone, committing extra time on top of career, studies, and other commitments was a challenge that we all overcame together. Really inspiring team to work with!
IA: In the case of Triviatron, development time and technical knowledge were also the major challenges. The development team had a major change since last year, which meant many new people on the team. Since not everyone had experience working in a game development environment or with the Unity game engine, there was a learning curve for everyone, which made production go a bit slower. Another challenge was for the team to understand how the 2017 Triviatron game was created in order to build on top of it.

SIGGRAPH: What is the one thing that you love most about ScavengeAR/Triviatron?

CK: Seeing everyone’s ideas come together and knowing that all of the work that they put into it was because they wanted to help as volunteers.
ZW: I am most excited to experiment with encouraging our hard-core sigglet collectors to find rare sigglets outside of the conference hall at evening events in the great city of Vancouver. We hope ScavengeAR and Triviatron instigate extending attendee experiences that are memorable, informative, and fun… long after each conference day is over!
IA: It is an app made by people who have a passion for SIGGRAPH and its attendees. The Triviatron team is formed entirely by volunteers who have participated at SIGGRAPH before in one way or another. The ScavengeAR app and the Triviatron game give a new look into SIGGRAPH, be it with the interaction aspect of the AR and the sigglets, or the curiosities learned from the trivia questions.

When asked if there is going to be a ScavengeAR/Triviatron in 2019, Kwock shared that the app will be part of 2019 but may take a different form. There are lots of new AR experiences and programs coming in 2019 that the team has to take into account for the design. ScavengeAR and Triviatron have been developed as a collaboration between the IRC, SIGGRAPH Attendee Experience program (and 2018 Chair Josh Grow), students from IUPUI, artists from Rooftop Animation, and indie developers from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, and Hong Kong.

If you are planning to attend SIGGRAPH 2018, download the game, scan all the sigglets, and visit the International Center (Vancouver Convention Centre, West Building, Room 103) to collect prizes and learn more about the conference and community!

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© Images courtesy of ScavengeAR and Triviatron teams.

*A sigglet is a character that players need to collect in order to unlock badges and earn rewards.

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