What’s Next With the Ugly Baby?

// September 30th, 2013 // Ugly Baby

We've been working on Ugly Baby for about twelve four years now (it started as a prototype called Musorqua right after we launched Aaaaa!), and it's now AaaaaAAaaalmost ready for prime time. A new build is on track for November 18th, so here's a sneak peek at some of what we hope to include therein:


You play the role of Azumi Pentak, blind futurist extraordinaire. She's trying to digitize the whole city of Boston Sky; and to capture the data, she's "wardiving" – BASE jumping through the city, taking measurements and scooping up every electronic signal she can. Including your brainwaves.

Azumi Pentak / Born: 8.25.2004 / Nat: American / Parents: Azumi Asahi, Gertrude Pentak / Sibs: Gabriele Pentak (dec. 4.11.2016) / Edu: BE Computer Science (2029), PhD (2025) Machine Learning, Worcester Polytechnic Institute / Foci: expert systems, neural networks / Whasian, 170cm, 53kg, pH~7.5, 1.4rgn / Prosth: ocular, inner ear / Loc: Boston Sky, Azumi@AzuCo / Incomplete: profession, physical address, biometrics.

AzumiOS Startup

Azumi was born blind, but given sight through technology. Her eyeballs (and inner ears) contain computers running what we originally called RetinaOS (though someone pointed out that people may get confused with Apple's Retina display, so we'll call it AzumiOS for now). Here's Ichiro's initial sketch of the startup screen:


This comprises:

  • A background; perhaps a blurred view from Azumi's apartment? This is what's actually in front of her as she's sitting there, using her eyeball computers. If she were to shut the computer interface down and go about her life, her eyes would unblur that – but who cares about real life?
  • A copyright notice for the OS. Something most players won't even look at, but gives a bit of flavor for those who do.
  • The date, cementing the time period during which the game occurs.
  • And a button to launch the OS proper.

The point of all that is that we want to place you within the game world right from the onset.

Ichiro sent his mockup to Jonathan for refinement, which looks like this:


We need to add the background, copyright notice, and date, but it's looking muy sexy!

Title Menu

Past that, we're in traditional main menu territory. Here, again, is Ichiro's mockup:


You can change settings, view the game credits, and explore the "Dejobaan Playground" (fun videos and other Dejobaan-related content to enjoy with your face). The text in the background is debug text from Azumi's eyeball computers, since she enjoys hacking them.

Jon's take on this looks thusly:



Again, Azumi's probably sitting in her living room while she does this, so we'll want to show a faint/blurred view of what she's seeing in the background.

Level Selection

Once you log in as Azumi (the green hex above), you're taken to the level selection map:


The hexagons include three types of levels:

  • Calibration: One level to teach you how to play the game, with Azumi guiding you via VO.
  • "Trunk" levels: A handful of "main" levels where you dive through the songs Azumi creates. Here, she sings about various social topics (what happens in a world where you can 3D print anything?) and her own life (who's Azumi?), and you're jumping and collecting data about Boston Sky to those tracks. (You can also use your own music in these after you complete them the first time.)
  • "Challenge" levels: Smaller, tougher jumps that focus on a single mechanic (dodging, hacking, collecting things).

There's also non-gameplay content to experience and love:

  • Experimenting with binaural beats. Can stereo sound act as a hallucinogenic drug? (A: No.)
  • Azumi's repeated experiments digitizing her personality (listen to Azumi v0.1!).
  • Voicmails from other people in the gameworld.


We're also refining/simplifying the in-game UI. Crude mockup ahead:


Our current thinking is that we'll want four UI elements on-screen. From top to bottom:

  1. A bar telling you how close you are to beating the level's score requirements. It's split up into three segments (fill each one, and you get points towards unlocking other levels).
  2. Your numerical score ("23,142 points").
  3. Your score multiplier ("x4").
  4. How close you are to getting to the next multiplier (i.e. fill the bar at the bottom, and you'll reach "x5").

We'll refine further, but: simpler's better!

Game Over, Man

When you've completed your jump, a view of how you've done:


Above, "Data Retrieval" is your score, and the "Unlocks" refer to points you get towards unlocking other levels in the selection map.

Author's note: It's at this point that I'd like to greet my lovely wife, Alicia, as well as everyone who's reading this. Hello!

Bonus Data Visualization


It's a graph of gameplay flow. Completely useless to anyone who's not writing the game.


Finally, it's time to boost in-game aesthetics. To wit, Jonathan's taking existing screenshots…


…and drawing on top of them with his trusty Wacom tablet…


This gives things meaning and texture. For instance, Jon took the above blank slabs and turned them into solar panels. Based on what he creates, we'll then generate new 3D models and textures for use within the game. It's a virtuous cycle.

I must get back to writing the actual game, so 1. thank you for watching, and 2. here are some further paintovers to keep you company. Until next time!

paintover-2       Abstract-Paintover-(shipping-yard) Abstract-Paintover-(ad-wall)