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The Search for Perfect Air

DUCT HUNT: THE INTERACTIVE TRADE SHOW BOOTH GAME

Every year, the International Builders' Show (IBS) features the latest and greatest innovations in the construction industry. And every year, Lennox maintains a strong presence that focuses on the innovation and technology of their home heating, cooling and air quality equipment.

For 2015, Lennox wanted to up their game even more by creating a booth experience that would draw in large crowds, providing both entertainment and reinforcement of the Lennox position as the innovation leader. So they turned to Power’s creative department and interactive Strike Lab to get it done.
THE CREATION STAGE

Our talented Lennox creative team were given the task to come up with the concept and decided the most enjoyable and crowd-friendly approach would be to create a video game. They knew the game had to be exciting and attractive, yet easy and quick to play.

The team also felt that using some elements of classic video arcade games might provide a nice bit of nostalgia and authenticity to the experience, while increasing the draw at the International Builders’ Show. The idea that emerged involved using the ductwork in a home as a sort of racetrack, with Dave Lennox navigating the course in a hover vehicle. And Duct Hunt was born.



THE GAME TAKES SHAPE

The game was developed using the Unity platform over the course of six weeks. During the first week, it was decided that gameplay would involve a miniature Dave Lennox piloting a one-person hovercraft through the ducts. To reinforce Lennox’ expertise in air quality as well as airflow, the game would also require the player to collect “dust bunnies” on their journey for extra points, thereby purifying the air in the ductwork.

Every video game needs a villain, and the team decided that spiders seemed the most natural choice. After all, they’re in nearly every home, and most people are at least slightly creeped out by them.


THE MECHANICS OF MOVEMENT

Power had enjoyed substantial success with other engagement-focused tradeshow games in the past, most notably a game called Climb Time designed for a major energy client. In that game, players controlled workers who climbed up the inside of a wind turbine, making repairs as they went.

Climb Time’s most engaging aspect was the fact that it used Microsoft® Kinect technology to control player speed and movement. In other words, rather than using buttons or joysticks, the player’s entire body became the means for controlling the onscreen character. The faster they waved their arms and legs, the faster their characters climbed the tower.

Since Duct Hunt required a very simple set of controls, Kinect was again chosen as the means for controlling the Dave Lennox character’s hover car. This would keep it simple and add another level of entertainment as booth visitors watched each other play.



SOUND AND GRAPHICS COMPLETE THE EXPERIENCE

Music and graphics were very important to the overall Duct Hunt experience, so the agency tapped its extensive talent pool to make everything perfect. Kitestring CGI’s artist, a former animator for an internationally recognized children’s show, designed the Dave Lennox character and Dave’s hover car in a 3-D animation program.

In the design, Dave was given his signature moustache, newsboy cap and overalls, but was rendered in a slightly exaggerated cartoon fashion to give the game a sense of playfulness. The spiders were designed to be comically sinister, but not actually frightening.

The music was composed and created by Kitestring  over the course of three days. They took inspiration from the old 8-bit console game soundtracks created by legendary game composer Koji Kondo, and performed the music using a MIDI keyboard, a virtual instrument set known as chipsounds, and Tweak Bench’s Toad program.

ON TO IBS

When the game was deployed at IBS, it was presented on a large flatscreen display at the center of the booth. An attractor loop showed Dave Lennox inviting visitors into the experience. In order to play, visitors stepped in front of the screen, and once recognized by the camera, a countdown began. When the countdown reached zero, Dave’s hover car launched forward into the ductwork.

The object of the game was to make it through the ducts as quickly as possible. Control of the hover car was governed by the player’s body position, so leaning left or right would steer the car and allow Dave Lennox to navigate the inside of the ductwork. To prevent players from having to focus on too many things, the speed of the hover car was automatically controlled. Players only had to control their side-to-side movement, making the experience more casual and enjoyable.

During gameplay, Dave’s hover car accelerated gradually over time to increase the challenge. Spiders randomly dropped from above, forcing players to move quickly and avoid hitting them. Hitting a spider slowed the hover car down substantially. Any dust bunnies encountered in the duct could be picked up by running over them, giving the player bonus points.


To make Duct Hunt an even more enjoyable experience, Power built a social sharing aspect into the game. Upon completing their Duct Hunt run, players stepped over to another large screen that displayed their final score alongside the animated Dave Lennox rendered in a celebratory leap. A photo was taken of the player celebrating their score and they were invited to step over to a smaller screen to see their photo, giving them an opportunity to capture and share it on social media.

THE DUCT HIT

The game was very well received at IBS 2015. So well, in fact, that it was set up again for the 2015 Lennox Dealer Meeting, a national convention of Lennox Dealers, distributors and corporate employees. Furthermore, Duct Hunt will reappear at the 2016 IBS show in an even more prominent location, once again reaffirming Lennox’ commitment to groundbreaking innovation and engagement.


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