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Paper Planes MOC

Finalist in Gamasutra's "Design the Games of 2020" Competition

Paper Planes

Imagination is our greatest natural resource. Feel free to recycle.  Or, if you prefer, fold, bend, spindle, and mutilate.  It’s only paper. Got a dream? Put it on paper.

Paper Planes is the incredible new Massive Online Community (MOC) - the first of its kind to implement console ScrollUp integration.  Never again will you look at gameplay as a solitary journey.  Imagine a community of creative dreamers, just like you.  You’ll find every type of player here in Paper Planes.  Wander through vast landscapes of user generated content. Interact with other players in museums or challenge a gargantuan mecha to an origami deathmatch in the arena in the Waste Paper Lands.

Where other MOCs give you toolsets to create your space, Paper Planes gives you paper – and plenty of it.  Limited world interaction will be a thing of the past after you discover the amazing power of the Spindle Engine, powered in part by the robust Crumple Algorithm. 

With your imagination as a toolset and a ScrollUp in your hands, you make your future.

Control Devices:

ScrollUp Screenpaper – flexible, bendable, creaseable plastic game screen.  Hard to believe that just a decade ago, these flexible screens were considered a rarity.  Now with full microLEDs and nanocircuitry, you can take your creations with you.  Just synch with your mobile device and bring your creative tools with you wherever you go.

The current model ScrollUp with the Origamix2.1 upgrade allows you to store up to 10,000 models from our database.  Whether you’re in the middle of a game or waiting for the latest download, just unroll your screen and choose your model.  The LEDs will light up, showing where to fold the ScreenPaper.  If you’re feeling especially creative, you can experiment on your own and save your creations with a single button press.  Upload your models to your album or our museum through our encrypted datastream.  When you’re finished, ScrollUp reverts to its flat state with a single command.

In its flat state, the ScrollUp can function as both a controller and a viewing screen. For controlling movement, just move your fingers in the direction you wish to go.  Program the interface for a control keyboard, or shape the item into a joystick.  There are truly endless possibilities for this adaptive controller.

As a screen, this unit has infinitely expandable potential for gameplay and advertising.  If you pick up a piece of paper in-game to manipulate, the ScrollUp assumes that color.  If you rip an advertisement out of an in-game magazine, it assumes that material, allowing for custom folding if you wish to preserve a certain area of the page.

TipTop Gloves – wireless fingertip controllers allow the user to manipulate in-game objects, from folding new origami objects to launching attacks in the Waste Paper Arena.  The motion and spatial sensory transmitters in the gloves communicate location, speed, force and grip to the console, allowing precise digital manipulation of in-game objects.

With microLEDs built into the TipTops, eye-hand coordination becomes easier.  Searching your memory for a particular fold for a model?  Let the TipTops guide your fingers.  With intuitive flash patterns these gloves can walk you through even the most difficult origami model. Once the finger LEDs are completely lit, you have completed the movement.

Game World:

The world of Paper Planes could best be described as a book of maps.  The Planes are separated by walls of aether. This keeps the various sections of the community able to come and go at will.  Good fences make good neighbors.  Each plane has certain user restrictions, much like user-generated content on wikis and other community websites.  The permissions are View Only, Collaborate, Edit, and Delete / Destroy.  These are decided on a Plane level by the administrators, but on a local level by the individual users. 

For users that enjoy creating original origami content, but don’t want to see their creations edited or destroyed, they may set up their home in a View Only plane.  For competitive aggressors there are areas of constant chaos and battle.  For lurkers who just like to see what’s new, the options are also available.

While the community has grown tremendously since launch, the primary Planes that you may currently explore are:

  • Waste Paper Lands – arena combat, scavengers and chop shops. Collaboration, editing and destruction at will.
  • Dinotopia – danger around every crumpled corner. Monsters of all sorts and battles galore.  Collaboration and editing only.
  • Faerie Wilds – mystical creatures, fantastic gardens and more. Viewers and Collaboration with permission only.
  • Urbania – Find pop culture upgrades and customizations here.  Advertisers wanted. Collaboration and editing only.
  • Home of the Muses – museums of previous creations, galleries of user content. Viewing only.
  • Shoptropolis – storefronts for third-party created content. View Only. Paypal.

In each of these planes you’ll find users that have made their base of operations.  This has its drawbacks, depending on the End User License Agreement (EULA) of the Plane.  With every plane there are mandatory control schemes enforced by the console. For example, when users pass from one plane to another, they agree to be bound by the EULA - which changes the configuration of their controls. So a giant paper robot dinosaur cannot enter into the Faerie Wilds and stomp on everything. Their player controls would be configured to the allowable control scheme for that plane (View Only – stop to smell the paper roses).

With the EULA carefully guarding player interactions in the various Planes, griefing disappears almost entirely.

These can be viewed top down for regional navigation with the game search features.  Travel Maps plugins easily make the jump from reporting real-time traffic to guiding game players from place to place.    Enter your search destination.  Enter your start point. Follow the path.  If you desire a ground-view path, it can appear right in front of you.

Each plane has a quest-line that you can follow to increase experience, gain aether and upgrade your collection. Completed quests win the player experience and aether points.

Game Environment:

The world is created of Five Element Paper.  The five elements are: Fire, Water, Air, Stone and Aether.  Aether is the binding force that can hold opposing elements together in one unit.  Five Element Paper is indestructible.  It is composed of all five elements. Aether is the binder that joins the other elements together without them cancelling each other out.

The player begins as a paper figure.  This is fully customizable and upgradeable during gameplay; crayons, markers and collage materials are supplied for completely individualized characters.  The Player starts out with one piece of Five Element Paper.  This can be used to create a steed to ride or a vehicle to travel around the Planes.  The catch is this: each player may only have one piece of Five Element Paper.  Upgrades are possible with this paper, but only singularly.

There are many different planes of play in the game.  Each one is a flat map.  They are connected through portals or doors.  They may have the same stores on each level, but player accesses and control schemes are different, per the EULA. Each plane has a questline that you can follow. 

Creating Objects / Resource Management:

Five Element Paper cannot be bound or linked to anything else.  It must stay singular.  Other paper types can be bound together in chains – dinosaurs, insects, centipedes, airplanes, rhinoceroses, etc. There are size limitations on your creations – you can only fold up to twice the length of the current largest item in your collection (5 x 5 can fold up to 10 x 10). This is also dependent upon aether levels.

Aether is health points, money, and binding power.  You, as a player, don’t want to run out of aether, because then your creations and your character fall apart.  When all aether is exhausted, your active objects decompose into paper pieces. When aether is gone, it is gone. It cannot be collected by opponents or allies. However, paper scraps can be picked up and then customized according to the player’s aether levels.

Every fold costs aether points to complete.  The amount of aether needed to complete an origami construction is complicated by how many folds are involved.  Simple items are easy to fold, but they will not hold much aether.  Complicated items take a lot of strength to build, but they can also hold more aether as you gain more of it.  So your constructions are an investment – you expend aether to create these objects in your collection.  As you travel around, you can store aether up to the maximum amount allowed in your objects. Each fold in an object has both an aether cost and an aether carrying capacity.

You can only keep one item of Five Element Paper at a time.  If you create a larger piece of Five Element Paper, you have to give up the previous piece. When you give it up, it becomes stationary and does not move.  This provides the need for museums and stores.   You could make a statue of your previous piece of Five Element paper.  That would be imbued with your own power, giving it a special strength against theft (depending on what plane you’re on).  In addition to the aether creation requirement, unfolding an object takes aether points.  It takes an additional amount of aether to upgrade to a stationary statue or fort.  (Example: statue = 100 aether points.  To upgrade from your current unit of Five Element Paper takes 110 aether points.)  Upgrading like this is not an immediately profitable situation.  Hence, resource management becomes an integral part of questing gameplay.

All along your journey you will find different types of paper.  You may find patterned paper to customize looks of objects (who wouldn’t love plaid pants?), or you may find element paper.  This can be used to create scenery, machinery, or moveable objects.  Different elements can be bound together, but it requires aether to do so.  Each moveable object requires a higher level of aether points to produce than do stationary objects.  A higher level player might create fire flowers, or a water chimera.  In combat situations, these element papers can be put to good use.  Each have their advantages and disadvantages, allowing the player to customize their attacks and defenses to their own personal preferences.

At higher levels, you get more folds for free.  It doesn’t cost aether.  Origami workshops in-game let you fold as much as you want, regardless of aether levels, but when you leave the workshop (room), you take none of the created items with you.  You can also practice your object creation in your own house and declare it Private or View Only.

The importance of houses and museums cannot be understated.  The total amount of aether that a player can hold is directly linked to how many distinct pieces / objects they have in their collection (to show off to others). The total amount of pieces that a player has in their house helps to determine fold level, and the size of your house factors into the largest piece of paper that you can use.  Basically, the more origami you make, the more you can do out in the world.

In the first plane, there is no stealing from anybody, but you can wander around to different houses to see what other players have created, so that you can use this same inspiration to build your objects. If the other players have their collections tagged “Collaborate”, you can download the pattern to repeat in your collection.  You will not get originality points for completing these items, but they will count toward your total.  As you complete 10 pieces, then 50, then 100, you can put these in a book or sealed case so that there isn't visible origami anywhere, clearing up your space, but the pieces are still considered to be built.  As you proceed in experience, in other planes, you may choose to build your house up as well, but in advanced planes, your models are vulnerable to takeovers, editing, or destruction.

Your house holds your creations.  You can have as much as you want inside your home to decorate and to show off, but you can only take outside as much as your aether level allows.  Your house can be tagged as private.  Nobody else can view it if you so choose.  Inside your house there are no time or aether constraints on your paper folding.  This allows for a casual play where you can experiment and practice your skills.


Search Features - Looking for a spot to visit?  Check the yellow pages. With directories broken down by topic / genre, you can easily browse the many individual homes and shops in any of the Planes.  If you know the exact user you want to see, enter their name in the search box and go right to their home site.  If you’d like to walk there, the process is easy and intuitive.  Just enter your destination.  The world map will give you a path to follow.  You can choose the top-down map, or you can go ground-view, and the path appears in front of you as a colored line.  Having a route to follow ensures that you can get to your destination.  However, with all of the imaginative sights you’ll see along the way, it might take you quite a while to get where you’re going. 


Originality is encouraged in this game world.  First designs created are tracked by user.  The game engine tracks the folds by value, so the originality of an item is dependent upon the values of the folds in the object.  New and original items are rewarded with a prize of aether.  The player gets their username time-stamped onto this creation.  This allows more prolific users to create museums of their award-winning work.

With every creation that users add to the database, the process is stored and available for download.  The creator must allow collaboration on their object to allow this free download.  For many objects that are View Only, the creators have the patterns for sale in their individual storefronts.

Paper Planes rewards creativity and allows users to show the world their origami collections.  For those who are not inclined toward originality, thousands of patterns are available for download, allowing users to fill their gallery with varieties of origami.  Many types of paper are available for use, from decorative, to interactive, to element, to pop culture paper, leading to infinite customization of galleries and game objects.


Players agree that upon entering the space of Paper Planes, they surrender certain independent controls of their avatar and accompanying game objects, dependent upon the plane and the associated permissions.  They agree to be bound by the conditions and the permissions of the various game locales.  Should the player try to infringe upon the distinct properties and proprietary creations of other users in a non-permissive zone, the console will disallow any aggressive actions.

User-Generated Content EULA – if you generate content and mark it for public use, the administrators may choose to use it in the game world as part of a quest line.  Any user click on a created item will give the creator name and date along with the name of the creation.

When users pass from one plane to another, they agree to be bound by the EULA - which changes the configuration of their controls. Their controls are configured to the allowable control scheme for that plane. 


There are vast regions of casual gaming, from the wild rivers to the lofty mountains and every imaginable locale in between.  As the game world is customizable, the landscape is ever-changing.  Some of the games include:  Bowling, Football kicking, Paper Airplane flying (with real physics!), boat racing (down swift rapids of doom), planting a garden, visiting any one of the many zoos, finger-painting caves, or taking a crayon to canyon walls.

For the competitive types, we have an Origami Mecha arena.  The Waste Paper Arena contains many different paper types. This is the trash dumped from different Planes and also the remains of fallen warriors.  Each type of paper contains different powers and requires different strengths to fold. And remember, if all else fails in an origami deathmatch, paper wads can be thrown at your opponent.

Time-based competitions. These contests are based on the skill you have with folding.  They may be obstacle courses you must navigate through with only your one piece of Five Element Paper.  Or they may be competitions with other players to see who can build the given shape first.

For the explorers, there are Adventure levels. Explore the vast world, completing and receiving quests.  For each quest completed, your experience and aether levels increase.

If using the ScrollUp ScreenPaper, the game keeps track of your aether levels. If you don’t have enough in-game aether, the paper controller will not hold its shape, and you will have to create a less expensive object. 

Free motion control allows for user created content within the allowable algorithms. 


ScrollUp – flexible, bendable, creaseable plastic game screen.  Wireless communication with game console. As detailed above, this device is a keyboard, a directional controller and a model-builder. Light up diodes tell you which way to fold.  The ScrollUp GameScreen reverts to flat form with a single command.

TipTop wireless glove controllers – allows the user to manipulate in-game objects, from folding new origami objects to launching attacks in the Waste Paper Arena.

User created audio.  A full template of sounds is available to customize your gameplay experience.  The player can map the sounds to animated actions – waves, steps, folding, crashing, etc.

In-game AI:

Our proprietary shape recognition algorithm uses Kirlian Bounding to recognize the overall shape of the created item so that it can get an appropriate envelope armature for movement.

If the algorithm does not recognize the general category of the item, it will query the player.  (Airplane, bird, star, other?)  User clicks the appropriate button.  If user pushes OTHER, and does not enter a new classification, then the item does not receive an armature and it will not move its parts.  It will just float along.  Objects can have no moving parts without a classification.  If the player adds a classification, then the database grows.  New classifications can be created as user content is generated.  Example: Cthulhu-spawn will move similar to biped, but also some octopus and bat in them. 

Sample Quest:

Sample Quest – rescue the princess.  She has been turned into a frog.  Gain experience and aether to help her change her shape back into a human princess.  When you find the princess frog, she will guide you around the map, giving helpful hints along the way.  When you come upon an object that you could create, a tutorial window will pop up, showing you how to fold it.  (lines in the paper light up, signaling how to fold also).  There are numerous paths through this first quest.  There are three levels that you have to go through to change the princess back into herself.  On the first level, there are five possible choices you can make – bird, flower, lily pad, tree, or sword.  Once you turn the princess into one of these, you gain experience and aether.  On the second level, there are three choices – cat, dog, and platypus.  More experience, more aether.  The princess walks you through the map, telling you about the possibilities. 

If you attempt to create something that you do not have the aether for, she will warn you against it.  The Paper Controller will not light up, and it will not hold its shape.  When you get to the third level, you‘ve one last choice before the final test.  You can make the princess into a saxophone or a monkey.  Then you go to the paper castle and go through some challenges that gain you experience and aether.  Then you find the instructions for turning her back into a princess.  That tutorial level is non-threatening.  There is opportunity for exploration, and the player is not forced into decisions to move the action forward. 

From this point, the doorways are opened up to the planes.  The user agreements for the planes are laid out.  The change in control scheme is made clear to the player.  They will not be able to act aggressively in the peaceful areas. If they travel to aggressive areas, they do so by the own volition.  The adventure is addicting.  The creativity awesome.  And the possibilities are endless.  Get out your scrolls everyone; it’s time to fold over. 




Using the ScrollUp controller improves fine motor skills.  It is being implemented by elementary schools, daycare facilities, and rehabilitation centers around the world.

As a convenient reading / media device it is unparalleled.  Where Kindle and IPhone began, ScrollUp continues.  Flexibility and touch-sensitivity give this device incredible versatility.  Flip through pages by thumbing the corner.  Download the latest daily subscription from your favorite gossip rag.

Imagine you are at a library.  Thanks to the spread of hotspots, the library has its collection completely browseable while you are there doing research.  If you want to take a page with you when you go, you “tear” the page out and put it in your backpack icon.  This saves the file for later viewing.  Depending on the app plugins installed on your ScrollUp, you can draw, type, write notes, create music - anything you could do with paper, you can do with ScrollUp.  Password and Biometric coding protects the device if a child drops it at school.  All information is securely protected by any one of the digital insurance storage companies.

Advertisers have really made the ScrollUp the indispensable news and entertainment source.  In the last two years alone, more people have gotten their news from ScrollUp than from television and traditional newspapers combined. Each customer chooses their level of advertising - text, animation or full visuals, static or interactive.  By allowing customers to choose their personal level of advertising exposure, companies have actually cut down their advertising expenditures and increased their exposure. 

While not indestructible, the ScrollUp cannot be damaged by falls, bends or crushing.  It cannot be creased through normal use and it has a five-year unlimited warranty.

Using TipTop Gloves improves eye hand coordination.  In addition to Paper Planes, media browsing and music creation, these are very beneficial in elementary schools with the favorite Buggle Juggle.


Paper Planes is easy enough for a five year old, or a seventy-five year old to enjoy immediately, yet it can be challenging enough for the most aggressive professional gamer.  Its intuitive interface allows for a sensible learning curve, keeping frustration at bay.


Advertisers Wanted:

We encourage in-game advertising. Paper worlds allow for a great deal of printed advertising. Consider the effectiveness of Mountain Dew billboards if that paper made in-game great armor? Everyone competitor would be going for the Mountain Dew signs, billboards, magazines, etc. Because every advertiser would get face time in the game, each would have certain powers or advantages that would cater toward a particular audience.

Because this is a world of paper, it is only natural to see magazines, newspapers and billboards bearing advertisements.  The difference in this game is that you can use these advertisements to customize or upgrade your objects, character or home.  For example:

  • Mountain Dew is fireproof. 
  • Sierra Mist effervesces. 
  • Honda makes you go fast.
  • Papermate Whiteout makes you invisible.
  • 1-800-FLOWERS creates beautiful bouquets.
  • Post-It Notes make it sticky (for a while)
  • And much, much more …


This began its existence as small, casual games controlled by mouse, keyboard and drawing stylus.  From its humble beginnings, the producers expanded to include more competitive, aggressive gamers.  From a collection of minigames to the current state of the art MOC, Paper Planes has had a clear vision of what it could grow up to become.

The technology was not quite there ten years ago, but today, thanks to forward thinking companies constantly pushing forward into new frontiers of digital interactivity, a whole new world has opened up for millions of users.  Paper Planes provides the canvas, you provide the paints.  In front of you is a blank sheet of paper.  The tools are in your hands.  Let’s get creative.

What did you dream today?