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Developing the 1st Breath-Controlled Games

Written by Alain - GameDev at Zenytime

Developing the 1st Breath-Controlled Games

It's been quite a journey.

From the 2D animatic we started with, to test how breath controls played out, to the world's first 3D games that are entirely controlled with your breath, we worked countless hours, days and nights, relentlessly.

Not only are our games breath driven, they had to be built to guide you toward .1Hz breathing, in the most fun and transparent way.

They also adapt to your own breathing pace, or style, while enabling accurate collection of biomarker data and providing a robust baseline.

The designing process started firstly by gathering the requirements necessary from users whose game controls were not, for the first time, enabled by usual devices such as a mouse or a touch screen, but through breathing.

It took us years to go from that preliminary stage to release, and including all stages of game development: mechanics, interaction, asset and content creation, music composition, sound-design, graphical user interface... partly of very technical nature.

Our games fall into the casual gaming category. They are in no way first-person shooters or fantasy games! Rather, they are based on neuroscience research, on 3 to 5 minutes tests that allow to measure and boost one's autonomic nervous system, so we had to think about what characteristics would make such short games exciting (or boring) and test, again and over again.

We went through many iterations and lots of polish to build the simplest user experience (UX), to minimize pop-up messages, and make information as seamless as can be. Our games let you know when to breathe in, breathe out, hold your breath, in a natural and uncluttered, self-explanatory manner.

In the first place, our innovative interface is built on the intuitive knowledge of the objects of the physical world that we all have: haven't we all blown dandelion seeds, soap bubbles... or candles, from our early childhood?

Therefore, there is a tangible, material, close relationship between the physical, real-world interaction one expects from blowing, puffing around, and digital objects' behavior in a smartphone screen. We worked hard, tried and tested several approaches to make breath-sensitive controls as transparent as possible and foster a sense of directness, of intuitiveness, so your interaction in digital environments feels like real physical contexts.

Gameplay-wise, we want our games to be fun and encourage repetition. All we have is 3 to 5 minutes: our games have a defined duration, that is intentionally kept short so you can enhance and quantify your health anywhere, anytime, easily. There would be lots of fun things to go over to tell you how much is built-in to generate your excitement, but, well, you'll find out some of it by yourself: let's play!

Our first game, "Supersower - Green Supernovas", reflects all these design decisions.

In Supersower, you, the player, will propel a cool superhero, Supersower, through the space. Lacking real-estate on overpopulated Mother Earth, human beings live on floating cities. But these greenless places aren't ecologically sustainable. Supersower, a fearless and dynamic superhero, helps reintroduce vegetation to land by flying through Green Supernovas to disseminate seeds and green up floating cities.

And indeed, Supersower relies on your breath to fly through the space: fly through Supernovas but avoid obstacles.

Along the adventure, Supersower will change aircraft: the main focus of the game will be to adapt to these aircrafts - sailplane, drone... and help Supersower green up as many cities as you can.

What we can say already is that everyone who played the alpha versions enjoyed. People like the attractive visual appeal, the interaction beyond just the usual finger/touch, and a clear and simple goal towards getting and staying healthy.

You'll see a broad diversity of games released by Zenytime in the coming months: hope you enjoy :) We are already looking forward to the first feedback we will receive from you!

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