Operation Citadel strikes Nocturne
Interactive game from Dal CS and Parks Canada
Theresa Anne Salah - October 16, 2013
If you’re heading to Nocturne: Art at Night this Saturday, you may be called into service to help save the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site from an enemy attack.
An antagonist of the future has traveled back in time to the colonial era and has planted a futuristic bomb within the fort. Soldiers of the past are unable to defuse the bomb themselves. Present day Haligonians will have to make contact with the soldiers and help save the future of Halifax.
The Faculty of Computer Science has teamed up with Parks Canada to help Nocturne goers tap into their history in a mixed virtual reality game called “Operation Citadel.”
The game, developed by Assistant Professor Derek Reily and his research team, will be played collaboratively and simultaneously from both the Halifax waterfront and Halifax Citadel National Historic Site at this year’s Nocturne festival.
Collaborating across space — and time
Here’s how it works: participants on Citadel Hill will play the part of present day Haligonians, using a tablet to peer through the walls of the fort and into the past. Their mission is to make contact with their counterparts on the Halifax waterfront.
Down on the waterfront, participants will play the part of soldiers from the past who are patrolling the Halifax Citadel. Using a projector screen, players will be able to virtually peer within the walls of Citadel Hill and then use their bodies to control the movement of the soldiers.
Participants at both locations, connected digitally, will work together to locate the ammunition room where the bomb has been planted and figure out how to defuse the explosive.
“We wanted a game that would be engaging, fun and also relevant to where we are in Halifax,” says Dr. Reilly. “We wanted to take advantage of the historical sites and historical richness of Halifax because mixed reality games are about blending the real world with the virtual world.”
Dr. Reilly says the game, which is based in the year 1812, would not have been possible without Parks Canada.
“They’ve been extremely helpful in not just giving us the background about the history of the Halifax Citadel but also providing us with access to do network tests and to plan out how our event will occur during Nocturne,” says Dr. Reilly.
As well as offering new ways for visitors on Citadel Hill to interact with the site itself, “Operation Citadel” will also help Dr. Reilly and his research team study how people interact with computers away from desktops and laptops.
“Mixed reality games have been very useful because they engage the public, and we can observe how they use or don’t use certain tools for interacting with computers,” he says. “The benefit is that in one night we get more people using interacting techniques or devices than we could possibility recruit in a month in a lab.”
From the "Tweetris" team
This isn’t Dr. Reilly’s first appearance at the Nocturne Festival. At last year’s event, attendees saw the Medjuck Architecture Building on Spring Garden road transform into a giant GameBoy screen for Reilly’s interactive art-tech game, Tweetris.
Tweetris, a collaborative mashup of Twitter, Tetris and yoga, allowed participants to play games of whole body tetromino (Tetris shape) making.
The game won the 2012 Nocturne Artistic Award.
Dr. Reilly says he hopes attendees this year will enjoy Operation Citadel as much as they enjoyed Tweetris.
“I think it’s fun, because it is set in local history, so we sort of play with the idea that the invincible fort Halifax is being threatened and we need to save it,” he says. “I think the ability, during the event, for people to collaborate across space is fun. They might not know who they’re working with, but they know that they’re working with someone down at the waterfront while they’re on Citadel Hill.”
The Nocturne festival will take place in downtown Halifax and at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth this Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. You can take part in “Operation Citadel” at both the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and on the Halifax Waterfront (bottom of Sackville Street).
comments powered by Disqus