FRU is a puzzle platformer that features an innovative use of Kinect, in which your silhouette becomes a “portal” between two worlds.
You will find yourself solving puzzles by strategically positioning your body, combining physical interaction with traditional platforming.
Be precise, be careful, take on a funny pose, but most importantly, be creative with your body! Every level can be solved in multiple ways, with different poses. What sort of creative solutions can you come up with?
Discover the turbulent past of the FRU temple… through the lens of your silhouette!
FRU was developed by Through Games, a dutch game studio located at the DGG Breda. It started as a Global Game Jam prototype developed at NHTV Breda in 2013.
Best Core Entertainment Game: FRU offers a very unique interaction that uses the player's whole body as an input, allowing for a very intimate interaction with the game. Your body's shape and flexibility directly influences how you play the game and how you approach the puzzles presented to you. We combine this mechanic with a traditional 2D puzzle platformer, giving this very common genre a unique twist.
In general players have absolute creative freedom on how to play the game - you can play it with multiple people, use clothing or other objects to help you in the game, and come up with very fun and unique ways to play the game. See this example in the trailer where the player uses his hat to catch the protagonist.
We have seen very young children immediately grasping the concept and older folks that have never played a game being absolutely delighted by the simple and fun interaction. Especially parents were very happy to see that they found a game that they could play with their children.
We were especially happy to hear that players that are usually not very fond of games or just do not consider themselves "gamers" found a very special connection to FRU and were happy to play something refreshingly unique. Nevertheless the game offers the depth, escalating difficulty, and the 3-5 hour average duration that a core indie console title needs.
The press seems to agree that we have created something worthwhile: "The game that makes Kinect worthwhile: 'Fru'"
Motivatie 2e categorie
Best Entertainment Game Design: When designing the game, we tried to ask ourselves: What can we do which is unique to Kinect? Which parts of it work well for what we are trying to do and which should we ignore?
The amount of levels that our different mechanics enabled us to design was enormous, so we had to establish a criteria: challenge and fun were important, but the biggest filtering factor was whether each level would show you something new about the mechanics and systems.
The player should have a conversation with each one of the level: “Wait, can I actually jump off my water body and then back in?”. Solving a hard level can be rewarding, but discovering a new use of the same old system you have been using throughout the whole game is really something else.
In addition, we tried not to have innovation for innovation’s sake. A level could use a crazy feature of Kinect, but if that feature doesn’t work 100% of the times, it’s just going to end up being frustrating.
Gamespot played the game, and it was awesome to notice their surprise every time they discovered new things they could do: their response at 25:58 was really satisfying. “Oh maaaan!”
We believe we managed to create a game for Kinect that does not annoy you with broken input and that keeps being innovative. Meanwhile growing steadily in fun and challenge, enabling you to think about your spatial presence in a way you would have never done before.
Motivatie 3e categorie
Best Art Direction: We needed to create a visual identity for the game that is both attractive to look at and allows for the clarity which the concept requires due to the multiple overlapping layers. That is to say, even if the player only reveals a small part of the level, it needs to be very clear whether the area is a platform, a hazard, or if the player would just fall and die.
From start we already knew that per chapter we needed two main colors that would work well together. Based on the two main colors we could add extra color overlays making the worlds look different from layers with the same color palette in other chapters. The layers also needed slightly different values, but not too much that it created a jarring contrast, to ensure that even color-blind players could easily distinguish the two. To further push this contrast, we created a shader that highlights the gameplay platforms bordering the silhouette, making it easier for the player to see that they are cutting through a platform.
Because we had planned for the game to have 110 levels, we needed to create a lot of assets that would repeat well throughout the entire game. With a useful texture-swap shader made by our programmers, we were able to paint a mask that allowed us to put moss wherever we wanted. This gave us the ability to break up repetition through a simple black and white mask painted in Photoshop.
The fixed screens of the game required the level designers and artists to work together to carefully plan the composition of each level. We requested basic composition guidelines from our programmers that allowed us to draw a Rule of Thirds grid, as well as a Golden ratio spiral on top of each screen, which helped a ton with placing platforms during the whiteboxing stage.
We also needed to create the illusion of depth without giving depth to the platforms, as cutting off a small part of a platform would lead to confusion about the collision. Most platformers with depth in the platforms (e.g. Rayman Legends, Ori and the Blind Forest) make the player appear to walk somewhere on the middle of a platform, but in our case this would have been frustrating to players who try to understand where collision begins on a partially concealed platform.
We ended up achieving the illusion of depth by carefully layering foreground and background planes, and making sure that the background planes were darker than the foreground/gameplay platforms. We also added scrolling mist planes that we were able to manipulate any way we wanted. The movement of the mist made it even clearer that there was a separation between foreground and background.
In the end, we feel that we managed to create an appealing art style that is clear for players and does not lead to any frustration on their part, and most importantly: one that we are extremely happy with!
Motivatie 4e categorie
Special Award: What makes our project special is the use of our hardware, the Kinect. When we decided to make a Kinect game we had very high ambitions for making unique use of this special hardware.
When the Kinect came out it was considered a very promising piece of hardware that would open up a lot of possibilities for innovative experiences. Unfortunately interest in the device stagnated quickly because it was considered a gimmick and nothing worthwhile. A lot of Kinect games are direct “body-simulators” where you are doing fitness, dancing or directly controlling an avatar with your body.
We believed the device had more potential. We wanted to create an experience that uses this potential by implementing the Kinect interaction as a core part of the game, but doing it in an elegant and subtle way - the interaction had to be seamless.
Ultimately we like to think we achieved what we wanted to do, and the press, as well as players, seem to agree with us. Common feedback that we get are things like: “Finally a fun game for the Kinect”, “Usually I hate Kinect games but this is fun!” or “This is the kind of game the Kinect needs”.
Here are some press articles that highlight this:
"The most inventive use of Kinect in years"
“Fact: Fru Is The Best "Idea”
“The best reason to own a Kinect is coming in July”
We are very proud to get this feedback and it makes us believe we achieved our mission.