Is the Arcade Machine of the Future Here?
MajorMega Says Hyperdeck Promises a Wide-Appeal, Original VR Experience
MajorMega started in 2013 as a service-based digital agency, involved in making web and mobile app campaigns for the likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. But those were mainly just projects to pay the bills, said co-founders Michael Bridgman and Sean Hennessey.
The overarching question of their business lives was: “What would the arcade of the future look like?” Actually, it was more than just business. Games and design were deeply rooted in their personal lives, too.
“My mom was going through the attic the other day and came across game developer magazines from a subscription I had in middle school,” Bridgman said. Hennessey, meanwhile, was an early adopter of Photoshop and was a designer and illustrator.
The duo began hosting community game nights after co-founding MajorMega, and thought about making the leap into opening an arcade bar or some other business endeavor that could bring social gaming to the public.
Then it hit them: Virtual. Reality.
They started planning a platform in early 2016 that they envisioned as the arcade machine of the future. “We started creating tools for how to trick the brain,” Bridgman noted of the early iteration of Hyperdeck. “Simulating and amplifying g-forces on the motion platform, for example.”
That’s the main reason why later in 2016, they were tasked with creating the VR simulation Experience Mars for National Geographic. The experience let people “land on Mars” and virtually walk on the surface of the Red Planet, which has just 38 percent of the gravity of Earth.
Fast forward beyond the prototype steel pipe and plywood construction to today’s Hyperdeck. It genuinely does look like something from a science fiction movie. The sleek motion platform sits inside a 300-sq.-ft. arena that has environmental effects like wind and heat.
The Hyperdeck platform made its public debut at the IAAPA Expo in 2018. A few tweaks were made and Aug. 1 this year, the 4-player system was installed at Hersheypark, the candy-themed amusement park in Hershey, Penn.
This was a huge deal for the Central Pennsylvania-based team at MajorMega. Both co-founders grew up there and the company is based in the adjacent town of Lititz.
“When I was growing up, my mom owned a business that cleaned parts of Hersheypark,” Bridgman said. “I was constantly there riding things over and over again. It was a huge part of my life growing up.”
Hennessey added, “I would have never expected to own a business creating a product that’s there. It’s amazing.”
So far, there’s one game available on the system: Hooper’s Artificial Intelligence Research, better known as H.A.I.R. It follows a 1980s rock star in a post-apocalyptic world. Players “fly through the night, collecting crystals and destroying robotic henchmen.”
As you would expect with MajorMega, it’s all in-house game development.
“The pillar of a Hyperdeck game is that roller coaster-like experience,” Hennessey said. Added Bridgman: “We’ve been getting some feedback from big players in the industry who’d get off of it and compare it to something at Disney or Universal. We’re able to give the small FECs a theme-park level experience that they’ve never had before.”
The team is planning a second game to be released this year called Dream Savers, where players will be transported to a parallel universe where they work for a company that delivers dreams and epiphanies. Only in the game, they run into a child’s nightmare. It’s their intent to release new content for the Hyperdeck every 6-9 months.
An integral part of this “arcade machine of the future” is that everyone can enjoy it. They’ve purported to eliminate motion sickness all while players are able to feel rumbling at their feet and experience realistic, high-speed motion simulation.
Hennessey also noted the spectator play component, which operators love. While four players are in a headset on the moving Hyperdeck, their friends, family and bystanders can interact with them through touchscreen, dropping bombs in the H.A.I.R. game and targeting individual players.
“We’re making experiences that the whole family can enjoy,” he said.
Visit www.majormega.com to see videos of the Hyperdeck in action and learn more about the company.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story…
“There was a year or two there where everything was underground,” Bridgman said. Literally. The original Hyperdeck was built in a basement storage-type room. There was a sandwich shop upstairs and employees smoking cigarettes once resulted in a small fire, and they almost lost the product of their hard work. “We’ve been bootstraps from the beginning and we didn’t raise a lot of money. It was all a labor of love, and mostly our money. We were weeks away from not making it.”