Step into the dastardly world of Villain-Con, a convention dedicated to all things wicked and villainous, hosted right in the heart of Orlando, Florida. This unique attraction offers visitors an exclusive chance to audition for a spot among the notorious Vicious 6, the world-famous super-villain team. What makes Villain-Con truly groundbreaking is its innovative approach, featuring an untethered guest-controlled blaster as the focal point. Unlike conventional shooting attractions, there are no ride vehicles here; instead, guests stand on a moving walkway that transports them from scene to scene. Each scene introduces visitors to a different member of the Vicious 6, and it's their chance to create mayhem alongside the ever-mischievous Minions while collecting points to achieve the ultimate high score. Villain-Con is an unparalleled, immersive experience that promises a world of villainous fun and adventure for visitors of all ages.
My role in Systems Integration for Villain-Con: Minion Blast involved ensuring the seamless operation of the attraction's custom hardware, a cutting-edge controller known as the E-Liminator X. To create a fully immersive experience, I focused on establishing effective communication between the game and all external systems. This encompassed data exchange to and from the E-Liminator X, coordination with physical sets, supplementary displays, and mobile app integration. I was also involved in integrating show/ride system messages, ensuring the game reacted in real-time to messages from the show controller. Moreover, I implemented an Achievement/Summary system, a pivotal component essential to the mobile app, enabling features such as leaderboards and mission tracking.
Villain-Con introduces an exciting element to the experience through collectible medallions hidden throughout the attraction's queue. Guests can embark on a treasure hunt to discover these hidden gems. What makes these medallions even more captivating is the ability to interact with them using the mobile app. By scanning the medallions via NFC (Near Field Communication), visitors can unlock various in-app items and enhancements, adding a layer of gamification and exploration to the adventure. Furthermore, the app enables users to pre-configure their E-Liminator X loadout before each game, offering a strategic advantage that can be customized to their liking. The physical collectible medallions seamlessly integrate the digital and physical realms, enhancing the interactive and dynamic nature of Villain-Con: Minion Blast.
Collectable Medallion Location
In my role as a Gameplay Programmer for Villain-Con: Minion Blast, I took on several responsibilities to ensure a seamless and engaging experience for all guests. One of the primary aspects of my work involved implementing multi-level fail-safes to handle rare edge-case bugs that might occur in front of guests, ensuring that the game could detect and recover from such issues to maintain a flawless guest experience. To guarantee that the attraction ran smoothly for long operating hours, I optimized and fine-tuned the game to uphold its performance. The E-Liminator X controller, with its primary and secondary fire modes and various pickups to change projectile types, presented an exciting challenge. I worked on perfecting the look and feel of the projectiles, making sure they were engaging and enjoyable to use. Additionally, I diligently worked on the integration of hidden events throughout each level, ensuring they were functioning reliably and behaving as expected when triggered. Finally, I developed the entire user summary system, a pivotal component that served as the backbone for the mission system within the mobile app, enhancing the overall interactivity and engagement of Villain-Con.
The Villain-Con mobile app, nestled within the Universal Orlando App, serves as a fantastic companion for visitors looking to enhance their experience. Similar in concept to the Super Nintendo World app, it offers a range of valuable features. With the app, users can track and compare their scores with others, pre-configure their E-Liminator X blaster, and accept new missions that unlock exciting rewards. Syncing of guest accounts to the E-Liminator-X blaster is done via NFC when picking up their equipment, creating a seamless connection between the digital and physical aspects of the experience. As previously mentioned, I played a crucial role in designing the user summary system, which was integrated into the mobile app for managing missions and achievements. In addition, I was responsible for optimizing the front end of the mobile app, ensuring quick load times and that all missions and achievements worked flawlessly on the mobile platform.
It Was Bananas!
Villain-Con: Minion's Blast was a journey filled with valuable lessons and challenges that ultimately led to my growth as a developer. The project underwent significant changes from the prototype phase, which added complexity to my transition into the production phase. Understanding the intricate web of interconnected external systems became imperative, and I had to swiftly grasp the entire system to ensure its seamless operation. The aggressive timeline presented its own set of challenges, as I needed to address existing technical debt while also implementing new features concurrently. To ensure the success of the project, the team had to simulate the unique circumstances of the attraction for proper testing and debugging, which proved to be a critical component in fine-tuning the experience. Despite these hurdles, I overcame them and learned a great deal, particularly in the realm of system design on a vast and unique scale. The most rewarding aspect has been the remarkable guest satisfaction, demonstrating that the hard work and lessons learned resulted in an exceptional attraction enjoyed by visitors.