Plugging In Simulator (Work In Progress)

“Collecting retro consoles and working in IT turned plugging devices into as few outlets as possible into a game, and with the recent trend of simulator games for monotonous tasks, I figured it could be a clever and relaxing experience.”

My Role(s): Design, Programming
Team Size: 1
Engine: Unity
Duration: 2 Hours (so far)
Platform(s): PC
Click Here to Read the DevLog

Plugging In Simulator is a relaxing interactive experience about plugging in devices into as few outlets as possible. The game is intended to be submitted as part of Week Sauce (Apr 2022) game jam. The proof of concept has been developed in Unity, and took me about two hours. I am solely responsible for all aspects of the design and programming.

Conception:

The theme for the jam is, “Choose a band and use its name for your theme.” Since that theme is very broad, the possibilities were endless. I was recently listening to AC/DC, and I went down the path of exploring electricity, currents, plugs, and so on. With the time-limited nature of game jams, I wanted to make sure the scope of the game fell within my capabilities to complete it on time. Two experiences of mine led to the idea: 1) retro game console collecting, 2) working in IT. I had 6-8 retro consoles all connected to the same television, passing through several capture and converting devices, and it was a challenge to be able to plug everything in with the resourced at my disposal. Retro game consoles often have very large power bricks attached to their plugs, so I had to be creative (and almost forceful) to get everything plugged in safely. Working in IT forced me to do the same thing, only with arguably even fewer resourced, since I wasn’t able to run out and buy stuff I needed and had to use what was there. Collecting retro consoles and working in IT turned plugging devices into as few outlets as possible into a game, and with the recent trend of simulator games for monotonous tasks, I figured it could be a clever and relaxing experience.

Design Process

The potential combinations of plugs and outlets leads to limitless level possibilities. For example, there are outlets that have a ground and ones that don’t, there are extension cords and power strips, there are power strips that have rotating outlets or outlets that have childproofing. For plugs, there are three-pronged plugs and two-pronged plugs, plugs that can be plugged in in either orientation, plugs with vertically-oriented power bricks or horizontally-oriented power bricks, plugs that prongs that can enter a protective shell, and so on. With all of these varieties, in addition to the ability to orient them in different ways, there can be as many levels as can be thought of.

Programming Process

Unity ended up being the perfect engine for this idea, since it can handle mouse clicks (and the potential for screen touches) with built-in methods. All I needed to do was create the objects, add colliders, and tune the code such that it does what I want when I click. The game is in a very early stage at the time of this writing, but as it is currently, each plug and outlet have colliders on them. Clicking the plug picks it up, and you can move it with the mouse. Hovering over an outlet initiates a trigger that references both the plug and the outlet. I will then be able to use those references to compare the parameters of the plugs and outlets to each other, so when the player clicks, the game will see if they match and plug in if they do. Each plug has a “plugged in” state as well, which changes its graphics and its colliders around to avoid miss clicks and give the sense that it has been inserted.

// TODO

While the foundation to compare the parameters of the plugs and the outlets is in place, there currently isn’t any code to compare to. Things like 3-holes and 3-prongs for outlets and plugs respectively, as well as plug orientation, will have to be compared to know whether or not the player is able to plug something in.

The code currently works to prevent plugs from entering outlets that already has something plugged into it, but right now there is only one plug. More varieties of plugs will have to be made. I will likely make a series of checkboxes in the Inspector to make each plug configurable to have different attributes, such as Reversible, Three-Pronged, and so on.

The code currently tracks how many empty plugs there are, but there is currently no code in place to initiate a win state once all plugs have been filled. That will be simple, but it is something that needs to be done.

 

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