A Board-Gamers Experience Playing a Mixed-Reality GPS Game

Chris Solarski interviewing Markus Liechti

Gross. Stadt. Jagd. (meaning ‘Urban Hunt’ in German) is a multiplayer GPS game that took place in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday 29th May at 8pm local time. G.S.J. was designed by JEFF Communications and developed by our team at Gbanga to promote the new Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake. The game saw several thousand players running the streets of Zurich in a 1.5 hour game of last-man-standing.  The last person to remain alive by evading capture by the Hunter (an actual CLA Shooting Brake being driven around town) went home with the luxury sports car. Below is a video reportage of the game, which was played through a mobile app featuring GPS checkpoints, safehouses and power-ups illustrated on an in-game map.

I decided to interview the winner, Markus Liechti, on a sunny day in Zurich a week after the event to discuss his experience playing G.S.J. Markus’ story makes for a particularly interesting read because he is a long-time semi-professional board game enthusiast and captain of the Swiss Warhammer 40k National Team. In the following interview we will learn how Markus applied his strategic thinking to gaming in the real-world, and discover many useful tips for designing mixed-reality GPS games.


[Interviewer—Chris Solarski] Hi Markus. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Before we get started, please can you tell us a little about your gaming experience.

[Winner—Markus Liechti] I’ve been playing board games since I was a little kid. At one point I discovered pen and paper role-playing games (RPGs) at around the age of 10. Dungeons and Dragons, to be exact, which I often played in a club alongside as many as 20 players. At one point a group of 8 of us splintered off to play Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K, which was the most incredible game that I’d ever played. At that time I’d never heard of such games. War-gaming was virtually non-existance in Switzerland—just after Warhammer had first been published around 30 years ago.

[Chris] I also know that you play Blood Bowl competitively. Is that right? Continue reading

Design and Composition in Pixar’s ‘Up’

Composition is important to every artistic medium if you wish to design the viewer’s emotional experience. As Wassily Kandinsky wrote in his book, Point and Line to Plane (1926):

“The content of a work of art finds its expression in the composition […] in the sum of the tensions inwardly organised for the work.”

Kandinsky was a modern painter, but this statement is equally applicable to video games, film, and animation. One example from animation, which I was unable to include in my book—Drawing Basics and Video Game Art (Watson Guptill 2012)—is from Pixar’s Up (2009), directed by Pete Docter.

Carl and Ellie in Pixar's 'Up' (2009)

A still from Pixar’s ‘Up’ (2009), illustrating composition and design techniques to wordlessly communicate information about the character of Carl and Ellie, and create a strong emotional tension.

There are several things to note in the above image, touching on shape, colour and texture, gesture, and composition.

Unless you haven’t seen this fantastic animation, Carl (left), has a stubborn and conservative character. His wife, Ellie (right), is the dynamic and energetic personality in Continue reading

Storytelling Workshop with Iain McCaig

I recently returned from Kansas City, Missouri, where I attended the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live (SFAL) event. The event was relatively small—being the first organised by Spectrum—which made it very intimate and personal. The cosy size also meant that it was easy to meet, learn and share ideas with some of the best contemporary illustrators and concept artists, including Mike Mignola, Phil Hale, Iain McCaig, Andrew ‘Android’ Jones, and BROM. SFAL will hopefully become an annual event, so I highly recommend following it on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed.

The lineup up of artists at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live was incredible, going beyond the headliners featured above to include, among others: Sterling Hundley, James Gurney, Paul Bonner, and Gregory Manchess.
The talk that I will remember most was Iain McCaig’s visual storytelling workshop. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Iain’s workshops—GO!—because his hyper-energetic personality and extensive experience are sure to inspire. As artist William Stout wrote:

“Iain’s infectious enthusiasm is extremely dangerous. In less than an hour with McCaig, the people in his presence soon begin to believe they can do anything.”

The workshop was particularly useful for me at this very moment in my career, as I’ve just begun working on my first full-length video game for which I must write a story; something I’ve never done before.

The following text contains my notes (and therefore may contain errors) from the workshop, along with additional content that I researched myself—such as the references to The Lord of the Rings, Aliens, and WALL-E.  If you find any mistakes or would like to contribute additional material then please feel free to get in touch.