The making of the ICONIC Racer

When fast prototyping and research come together … magic takes place. This happened to our team at the Iconic Lab. Earlier this year, they experimented on How much can be built during a two-week sprint. This experiment led to the making of a more challenging prototype design to proof feasibility, also known as Proof of Concept (PoC). The Iconic Racer. The Iconic Racer is a racing game, where you, as a player, can compete on a multiplayer mode. It’s been two months’ work now, and we are ready to share its story.

It all started after the team decided to make Bumpy Bus functional on tvOS. When they tried to port it, they all agreed it would be amusing to play by using the remote controller’s accelerometer instead of just swiping your fingers left and right. Here is were inspiration and challenges started to happen.

Breaking Barriers

The ICONIC Racer was built from scratch. The team started experimenting with the mechanics early in the process. Everything from driving a vehicle, how it should move, the race theme, and the characters needed to be created inspired in racer games like Mario Kart and others. As part of their goals, they needed to successfully integrate the Iconic Racer with Unity as a Library (UaaL) and wanted to explore its integration to existing tvOS apps.

Another critical barrier to break was the exploration of tools that could accelerate the creation process. The vast research about artificial intelligence and Machine Learning applications for games was a great challenge. Last but not least, they also wanted to make the Iconic Racer work on multiplayer device connectivity.

To do so, David, Fernando, and Alex focused on the development of the backlog of features, while Teresa and Antonio gave life to the characters through impeccable art designs and UI/UX implementations. Alex and David also teamed up to focus on AI modeling and Physics research and applications.

Powering Up the Game

After conducting the research, our team was ready to power up their ideas written on the whiteboard and create artificial intelligence models that could adapt to any terrain. For the racer specifically, it included a lot of physics studying to make it look as real as possible. The game consists of particle effects, a racer manager that can identify track positions, laps, time of the race, and the winner.

The Iconic Racer was developed using UNITY. It is pretty easy to integrate UaaL into any native application. Challenges come when the native apps are built-in swift or if they have several 3rd-party libraries that may conflict with the unity framework. UaaL framework works perfectly with objective-c; if you are building in another language, a well-connected bridging header should do the trick.

Ideally, it should be built in the same language, but if you want to integrate with a different language, you can combine it with the header bridge.

Zero Configuration Networking

When you play the ICONIC Racer by yourself, challenging AI or against your friends and family, you can connect to the tv with your phone without the need for any unique code. We use something called Zero Configuration Networking. You can automatically join without having to do any setup. The LAN multiplayer experience is highly optimized and has almost no lag. It feels better to play it with the phone than the tvOS controller.

Final Thoughts

One of the most critical learnings to standout is Teamwork. It was vital for us at the ICONIC Lab to work together to have a POC as a result in just two months. David worked with the network technology, Alex was focused on the game mechanics, and the Art & Design team provided us all of the assets needed. Since we needed it to work on OTT apps, we also focused on integrating Unity with tvOS applications.

The video above shows the result of two months of work. The Lab’s team made sure to built the racer for it to be effortless for future features to be integrated.

What are your thoughts? We will be more than happy to receive your feedback. Want to try it out? Leave us a message in the comment section below.

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