Combiform - The Combinable Game Controllers
Combiform - The Combinable Game Controllers
A set of 4 game controllers that physically snap together via magnets, encouraging inter-personal play.
A set of 4 game controllers that physically snap together via magnets, encouraging inter-personal play. Read more
About this project
SIGGRAPH 2012 --- Laval Award Winner, Best Demonstration at Emerging Technology
CHI 2012 --- 1st Place, Innovative Interfaces
Meaningful Play Conference 2010 --- Most Innovative Award
Granted US Utility Patent -- Awarded OCT. 30, 2012
The Focus Is On You, The Players
Do you sit on the couch with your friends and play video games? You're all sitting so close together, but the video game does not involve interaction between you. If someone tried to interact with you in the physical space, or tried to touch your controller- it'd be weird- because games aren't played like that... until now.
We're thrilled to introduce COMBIFORM, a new pair of game controllers that offers a new way to experience video games and truly brings player-to-player interactions beyond the screen.
Using innovative combinable game controllers, Combiform enable players to team up and interact in never before seen ways. The controllers are designed to bring people together, make them pay close attention to each other and ensure maximum fun with every new game. This is designed for all casual players. It's easy for anyone to pick up a controller and play!
Part Toy, Part Video Game
Combiform's unique patented technology allow for multimodal interaction through rare-earth magnets. It is partly toy, partly video game accessory that invites unparalleled experiences.
We look back fondly on all games, even those that we've played outside of the Television- games embedded in to the culture, like Freeze Tag, Twister, or Bop-it. Even party games like Beer Pong. These simple, people-oriented games are often just as fun as digital games.
That's why we've created a controller that will allow for the best of both worlds.
We love our traditional Arcade Shooters (Space Invaders, Spacewar!, Defender, Asteroids, etc.) and have been exploring entirely new ways to approach this style of game. Combiform allows the possibility of combining controllers for a shoot-em up game- combining 2 spaceships to unlock more powerful combinations- We're talking about "Power Rangers Megazord" style in their COCKPIT, moving around and combining in different ways. That is only one of our many examples. Check out our video pitch!
Going At It Solo?
We understand. Not everyone wants to play with others all the time. Thanks to the transformable controller design, you can use it just like a regular game controller.
While it is still in the process of development, you will be able to use Combiform on PC, MAC, iPhone, iPad and Android.
- For PC, install drivers for Combiform, download the games from our website.
- For Mac, install drivers for Combiform, download games from the Mac App Store.
- For iPhone, iPad and Android, all you need is to download game apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play for example, follow simple instructions to connect your Combiform to your phone or tablet, and you are ready to play on the go!
The current prototype is fully functional on PCs and Macs; we need your support to make Combiform run on iPhone, iPad and Android devices!
Do you miss the TV?
Combiform is a great addition to the living room experience, so we've made sure that it's possible to play together on the big screen!
- For PC, hook up your computer with a standard HDMI, VGA or DVI cable.
- For Mac, get THIS and hook it up with a standard HDMI, VGA or DVI cable.
- For iPhone, iPad, get THIS and hook it up with a standard HDMI cable
- For Android, find an adaptor optimized for your phone to connect to the TV.
We have had casual play tests and live demos at tech conferences around the country and in busy places like the Hollywood walk of fame, where crowds gathered throughout the night to watch people play Combiform.
Our system has also been a hit at public parties like Mindshare LA- immediately attracting attention due to the unique set-up of the games and drawing crowds of spectators and people eager to try the new games.
We also have 4+ awards for innovation. Now, some of them are very big conferences with 20,000+ attendees. They witnessed it and they approved! We believe you will too.
"Clunky" Looking Controllers?
Technology is getting smaller and smaller, but we found it best to make it look like a block!
1) A better fit for your hand. It is just the right size for your hand to comfortably grip the handle without bumping into other hands during action.
2) Multi-controller combining. As you might notice, to achieve combining with 4 controllers simultaneously, each controller must have 2 sides forming a 90 degree angle. This functional factor naturally defined the block looking shape of our design.
3) Magnetic Force. While we can make it as thin as an iPhone, we have to keep it thicker to achieve a combining force that is ideal for most users. So that players can combine easily and separate at will.
How Far Along Are We?
What you see is where we stand - a completely functional prototype with 10+ games. Please see section on “Getting Combiform into Your Hands” below for more details. Thanks!
Kickstarter Take 2
This is our second time on Kickstarter. We closed down the first campaign after receiving feedback and realizing that we had failed to explain Combiform properly. We evaluated our mistakes and used our time to further develop the project and a record a new video. Hopefully, you understand better this dream that we are chasing, and invest a few dollars to help us realize it.
The Combiform Team
Special Thanks to filmaker Michael Newman and composer Nathan Matthew David for helping us put together such an awesome video on a shoestring budget!
- Patented Combinable Technology, giving strong enough magnetic force for stable combining
- A iconic squared thumb stick - sensitivity pending
- Four small buttons merged together that can also act as 1 big button
- Dynamic full spectrum LED ring, adding to the state of the art beauty and funcionality
- 3 Axis Accelerometer - ADXL330, +/-3g (same one used in the Wii)
- Bluetooth 2.1 Wireless Communication - Broadcom BCM2042 (3.0, 4.0 backward compatible)
- Transformable Handles
- AA battery x 2, current prototype v 0.5.2 operates at 2000mAh LiPo rechargeable with 12+ hrs continuous playtime. We are trying to keep the manufacturing price low and we have to stick with AA battery for the production model.
- Dimension, 5" length x 5" width x 1.5" height (4"height with handle)
Combining the Controllers
For The Developer
Open source Software Development Kit (SDK) is a given! We value creativity, and believe that you can develop unique games for Combiform. In all, this would contribute to the library of fun on the Combiform Platform. Anyone can make their own games using Combiform just as easily as they can make an app on the iPhone, iPad and Android.
Getting Combiform into Your Hands
With Fundraising we will be taking our project to the next step:
- Working closely with our Industrial Designers to refine our controllers and draft production-ready schematics.
- Our patent pending combinable technology might look complex but is mostly cleverly designed electronics by Edmond. They are simple and straightforward to work with.
- Graft Concepts, LLC - an industrial design firm that helped us creating our production version of the controller you are currently looking at would be able to help us get the product manufacture with no problem. They have done it before and currently selling consumer products at Apple Store in the United States.
- Preparing our SDK library for the developers
- Polish Game Animations / Artwork
Risks and challenges
The main challenge facing Combiform is the fact that it is an ambitious hardware project. With it comes the challenge of building partnerships with reliable manufacturers who also believe in the product, and getting Combiform made in a timely fashion. We have already begun to pursue these relationships, and have a number of connections in Shenzhen, China. We will be able to settle on a manufacturer once controller development is complete, and will make sure to pick what's best for the players.
The development of the prototypes, putting all the parts together, has also been a challenge. We have had to hand-make our controllers with custom configured parts and are proud of the success of the controller so far.
Moving forward, we want to make sure that the final production will be of the highest quality, durable, and look great in your home. While some of these details have been figured out, there are a few more pieces to the puzzle, and we will need the help of an experts on those. We have pitched our project to experienced professionals, such as electrical engineers, and they have been delighted about the project.
Over the last couple of years, we have found hardware development to be difficult, stressful, and at times, uncertain. However, we have also come to realize the tremendously wonderful impact that creating a new, physical, piece of technology has to the world around us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
This is a video game project right... and you are telling me the word 'video' won't take part in it, isn't that somewhat... STUPID?
Screen vs no screen is not something that this project is going after. This is not an ON or OFF, mutually exclusive implementation. Think of it like a continuous spectrum - a hybird gaming experience much like Wii and Kinect. They started a new era of casual gaming in which players don't necessarily devote all attentions to the virtual world. Playing with each other in the same space is what they emphasize. We are basically pushing this concept to lean a little more toward the body-to-body and face-to-face interaction. e.g. if the Wii is 40% people-centric and 60% 'video'-centric, Combiform could be 50% people-centric and 50% 'video'-centric or even on a 95% - 5% ratio with different gaming experiences.
What is it that you are trying to solve here? I don't see any 'problems' in the current video game industry! None of the games LOOK fun to me.
I encourage people to see Combiform differently and be open-minded to hardware creativities in games. Many hardware creations in games do not translate well in motion pictures. We are not inventing the light bulb because people are using candles. There is no direct problem to solve and there is no direct solution! It is an experience that we are inventing through a new piece of hardware. Observing an experience simply won’t do the justice of whether something like Combiform is or isn’t a successful one. We had won numerous design awards only when people got to try them first-hand – 2 prestigious tech conferences only award 1 project per year and we are winner for both. To illustrate my point, I urge everyone reading this to imagine the feeling of watching someone riding a roller coaster ride before having to ride it yourself. I thought it could be a fun experience that I could enjoy the wind blowing on my face and it should feel like a bird flying high. WRONG! It was the most horrifying and painful experience that for some reason, I did enjoy! Extremely awkward experience that I cannot really describe to other people through words or ANY medium - not even through pictures/vidoes. THIS, is exactly what Combiform is chasing after; the project could convince anyone that this is the case even for firm non-believers. Our team has witnessed it many times in many different group of people.
When people saw Wii for the first time, they thought there was no market since people only associate gaming with hardcore gamers at the time. When Wii became hugely successful, people thought nothing could sell better in the scope of casual gaming. Kinect proved them wrong again - it was the all-time fastest selling consumer electronics in 2 months. What I wanted to illustrate is that the field of gaming is never a constant one. Business solutions and customers' needs are not always clear - it is not like inventing a light bulb because people are using candles. Inventing new game tech is similar to try serving new types of food. Why would the Japanese prefer Japanese food while Italian prefer Italian food? The answer is a complex one involving cultural and personal factors. It is difficult to draw logical solution to assume other food are not going to sell due to personal preference. With that said, our Kickstarter might be going slow now but that doesn't mean we have no market. Kickstarter audiences are mostly hardcore gamers but not casual ones.
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