The Melon Game Jam started out as an inside joke among the game developers who attended A MAZE 2016 and became a delicious reality one year later, producing watermelon-themed video games for a fruit hungry world.
But one standout title from the Melon Jam actually uses a watermelon as a controller- 'The Story of The Revolutionary Watermelon That Wanted To Live Free as a Bird and Learned How To Escape' by SpaceBackyard.
This crazy strange game stars a sentient watermelon who tries to escape its fruity fate by hopping to freedom, which usually doesn't end well for the watermelon:
The music and sound design is ominous and your efforts are mostly futile, sort of like if you replaced the protagonist in one of Playdead’s game’s with a watermelon; Limbo but for sentient produce.
All you can do as the watermelon is hop, and roll where you will, but the input is finicky, leading to chaos. If you’re not hopping enough, you’ll get snagged on a branch or stuck in a gully, but spam the jump command too much and you’ll eventually explode.
In order to debut their game in style at the Melon Jam SpaceBackyard replaced the keyboard with an actual watermelon, forcing players to slap the fruit if they wanted to play. Ethan Gach of Kotaku spoke to the creators to find out how they turned a watermelon into a game controller:
“Just some days ago we tried to put up something from scratch with the components found at home,” they told me in an email. “Technically speaking, it’s a really simple Arduino custom circuit and code based on a vibration sensor attached to a 100% real watermelon.” The sensor then connects to the computer and inputs the jump command every time a player slaps it. The hardest part, they said, was choosing the right watermelon.
“That road test was very useful to understand how people interact with a watermelon and how long it lasts,” they said. I asked them why they went to all the trouble though.
“Why not! Slapping a watermelon is so fun!”
You can too can try living a short and thankless life as a watermelon over at the game’s itch.io page, and once Space Backyard releases their diagram and code, you can even play it using your very own watermelon.
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