Together with Anton Klinger I got to create a game for the façade (also known as BIX) of the Kunsthaus Graz. We implemented an interpretation of Tetris in which two players compete against each other.
I first want to talk about the interesting hardware we got to work with since this also influenced our design decisions quite a bit.
The façade of the building acts as a giant screen in which pixels consist of neon-tubes that can be individually accessed. This gave us roughly a screen of 48×24 pixels with a few levels of brightness to choose from. I say roughly, because the screen has very fuzzy borders. Furthermore the façade has an organic bent shape. Late into deployment we found out that parts of our game are not visible from a street level, because that part of the display acts as a roof and is facing towards the sky.
To play the game the players can use their phones or other mobile devices by visiting a website. There they are queued and two players are then set to play against each other on the big screen. If there are no other players around you can also play against an AI.
Due to the limited resolution we had to come up with something that relies on simple shapes. Since the game is played in public by a varied audience one round could not take too long and the game mechanics had to be immediately obvious without any tutorial. Since the inputs of the users were sent via the internet we could also not require quick or twitchy reactions.
The play area itself is split up by a vertical line in the centre. Each players pieces appear on the outer left and right edges respectively and slowly start dropping towards the centre. Like in regular tetris have to avoid reaching the edge of the play area by combining the blocks into lines that then vanish. We added a little twist to that: every time a player drops a block the centre line is moved towards the other player thus reducing their play area size. This incentivizes players to act quick but without breaking their own field.
The game could be played for two weeks in 2018 but will probably return in the future.