Am I the only one who always thought that the magic spells in Harry Potter seemed a bit easy? Give a kid a wand, teach her how to wave it, make sure she can properly pronounce a few words of Latin, and suddenly she’s Wingardium Leviosa-ing stuff all over the place.
When it came to wizard duels, though, things got interesting. The budding wizard had to use the spells at his disposal. He had to know the gestures, get the incantations correct, all while paying attention to what his opponent was casting. It was practical magic. And it looked like a lot of fun.
Incantor, a smartphone-based augmented reality game currently in the works by developer MoveableCode, hopes to offer geeks like me a way to wizard-duel in the real world. With a Bluetooth-enabled wand and a smartphone app, I’ll cast spells, battle my friends, and complete quests, all in my own backyard. It’s an intriguing niche project, and one that needs backing on Kickstarter in order for the developers to continue work on it. MoveableCode is looking for $100,000, which isn’t a lot of money when you think about how much cash goes into less ambitious games that don’t include well-crafted magic wands.
The game itself, which should appeal to lovers of laser tag and Muggle Quidditch alike, plays like a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Each wand has a color and realm associated with it, which determines the class of the player. This informs the types of spells that a player can cast. You battle by gesturing with the wand, which casts your spells on your opponents, in the case of player-versus-player combat, or against hazards and monsters in the augmented reality. The full rundown on the rules is available on the project’s Kickstarter page.
In an announcement today, the Incantor team has revealed that the wand itself will be hackable. Just like enterprising Kinect owners have done with Microsoft’s Kinect SDK, geeks can use their Incantor wands to do all sorts of awesome stuff in the real world.
Kevin Mowrer, MoveableCode’s Chief Creative Officer and a former senior design executive at Hasbro, says, “Our goal in creating Incantor has always been to create fantasy so immersive that it blends with reality. By making the wand able to control real things in the real world, we are putting that power in the hands of our players. We are really looking forward to the creative uses people will dream up.”
When spells are cast with the wand, it generates an Open Sound Controller command. These unique sound-based commands can then be utilized by all sorts of other APIs to control all manner of real life gadgets: MIDI-compatible music instruments, computers (via a tool like Osculator), lighting and stage effects (via Lightjams), and basically anything that can be controlled through an OSC-compatible home automation system.
“Incantor is a passion project for us, but it is serving at least three different passions – our gaming geek, our inner story-telling geek and our gadget geek,” says Nicholas Napp, MoveableCode’s CEO. “The Hackable Wand builds on the trail blazed by the Kinect and makes it possible for anyone to use their Incantor magic wand to control real life devices.”
GeekDads could go wild with some of this stuff. Aside from using the wand as a television remote, imagine a backyard dueling pitch with strobe lights, fog machines, or sound effects triggered by certain spells. Napp directed me to this YouTube video and said, “My personal ambition is to buy one of these” and hook it up to the Wall of Fire spell. Dangerous, yes. And insanely awesome.
Once the project receives its funding and the game is live, MoveableCode hopes to make APIs available for custom apps and interfaces. At that point, the wands will go for $60. Right now, you can reserve your own exclusively designed wand for $100 over at Kickstarter.