• Table Racer
  • Gaming
  • Gobi

Table Racer — Pushing the boundaries of AR

Guy Wolstenholme — Moving Brands’ co-founder and Gobi creative director — has always loved cars and the addictive cartoon physics of Mario Kart. As an experienced 3D animator, developing an AR racing game seemed like a natural fit for Guy’s noodling know-how.

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Immersive and seamless
Moving Brands believes that the future of stories, content and experiences will not be in screens but will be fully immersive, living seamlessly in and around us. Interactions and gestures will be spatial and dimensional  — although how this will work is as yet not fully defined or understood. 

Pushing the boundaries of AR on iOS 
Table Racer is a prototype Augmented Reality (AR) toy car racing game that you play in your front room, on your dinner table or desk. Making any surface your personal racetrack. It’s a game that explores the interplay between real world objects and their physics. The fun comes from how we dynamically connect the virtual and digital content.

Game development for iOS
Table Racer was an exercise in building our experience and knowledge in game development for iOS. We now better understand how design and interactions playout in the AR space. As Guy says “People spend so much time staring at rectangular screens, interacting only through taps and touch. The AR space brings new ways to experience brands and their content. Prototyping experiences in AR helps inform Gobi and our clients on how best to make the most of these opportunities”.

Gobi’s aims for Table Racer

  • Gain a better understanding of spatial interactions and gestures to inform how we design better experiences  
  • Create a brand and design language that talks to a younger audience, while also appealing to the parents
  • Build a Gobi team that understands the steps, process and skills involved in creating a game for AR on iOS
  • Make a prototype that encourages new and existing clients to think about how their brand, design and experiences can thrive in this new space
  • Understand the process to develop 3D models which use PBR (Physically Based Rendering) for iOS, that work in AR experiences
  • Design and make physical objects for MR that add an element of playfulness.

Why AR is faster than VR
The launch of Apple’s AR developer ARKit made it (as Guy said) “surprisingly easy” to develop a prototype, using pre-made packages from cross-platform game engine, Unity. The decision to set the game in AR was dictated by the time available. “VR is much more labour intensive in terms of creating models and textures — you have to create the whole world”.

Messing with the real world
Once AR has set up the physics of virtual objects responding to the real world, it’s possible to subvert the environment and surprise the player. As Guy says “I love the idea that you can give an object realistic properties to exist in the world — and then mess with that world — for instance making the car drive up walls”.

Future work
Guy continues to work on ways to use spatial sound to help the player navigate Table Racer more easily. “For instance, when scanning the room, I’d like to introduce UI elements into the space itself, introducing the game language with immediacy and without breaking immersion with heavy UI menus”.