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Archive for the 'Games' Category

“Rhythm” Games and iPod Gaming Experiments

19th February 2007

About a year ago, I started thinking about what it would be like to play games using the iPod’s unique “clickwheel” interface. It seemed especially interesting because the Nintendo DS was proving unique game experiences were possible with a touch interface, along with games like Guitar Hero that were taking “rhythm games” mainstream. Apple must have thought it was a good idea too, because they started offering games in the iTunes store about 6 months later.

For my project, I modified a PC clone of the popular PSP rhythm/puzzle game Lumines to be controlled with the following trackpad, mimicking the iPod clickwheel in software:

Cirque touchpad with IPod Clickwheel image pasted in

The idea that you could play Lumines levels based around your own favorite songs was also something I wanted to explore. Microsoft later implemented this with their version of Lumines, featuring songs from artists like Madonna, now available in the XBox Live Arcade. There was a popular iPod commercial at the time featuring Eminem, so I also created a custom mod or “skin” using graphics from the commercial and looped sections of the audio from the song “Lose Yourself”. The current dropping piece could be moved left and right with counterclockwise/clockwise motion on the trackpad and rotated with pressure on the center “button”. The following is a video of my hacked up game composited within the iPod interface:

Most “rhythm” games work on the premise that the specific beats or melodies in a song statically determine when a player’s actions should occur, such as where to place your feet in DDR or the notes to play in Guitar Hero. However, it looks like there is lot of room for innovation in how players can inject their creativity into a game’s soundtrack. When thinking of how gameplay can change a game’s musical score, I’ve found that player actions usually fall into one of two categories:

1. Actions that Augment the music (as in Rez, where the player is remixing or composing new aspects of the music through gameplay)
2. Actions that Progress the music (as in Lumines or the upcoming SSX:Blur, where player achievements trigger progression in the musical score)

The second category is core to the Lumines game, which you can see in the video when big combos are scored, resulting in changes to the graphics and progression to the next looped section of the song. I experimented a bit with the first category by adding “DJ scratch” functionality, where scratch gestures on the trackpad triggered appropriate record scratching noises, which in theory would allow the player to add his/her own style to the song. It didn’t work too well in Lumines because the scratching motion would annoyingly cause the current dropping piece to move left and right, so I just ended up playing a random scratch noise when rotating the pieces.

It will be interesting to see how these ideas could be further developed into future iPod games. More details on this project (and hopefully other experiments) at my new gameplay prototypes project page.

Posted in Code, Games | 121 Comments »

CMU’s Spring Carnival: Magic Kingdom Monorail Racer project details…

24th April 2006

Carnegie Mellon University’s Spring Carnival was this past weekend. I’m always impressed with the quality of the booths made by the student organizations in such a short amount of time. Highlights this year were the Star Wars Death Star from Sigma Phi Epsilon and Arabian Nights from Kappa Delta Rho:

SigEp's Star Wars booth exterior KDR's Arabian Nights booth exterior

The games inside displayed some impressive engineering efforts such as Sig Ep’s “Force Pong” game, where you waved your hand over a screen to hit the virtual ball back at your opponent. KDR had a magic carpet ride where you leaned left and right on an actual carpet to control a virtual carpet through a 3D world projected on the wall. You can tell these things were a collaboration between students from a bunch of different disciplines.

This reminded me of the game project I worked with a few others for Phi Kappa Theta’s Magical Kingdom booth at Carnival in 2004 (my final year at CMU):

Magical Kingdom booth exterior

The Magic Kingdom Monorail Racer challenged the player to race a monorail car around the interior of the booth without running out of fuel. It was unique in that it combined a typical joystick controlled videogame with objects in the physical world – in this case a real RC car. Custom hardware circuits were developed to interface the PC game with the real world to accelerate the car, toggle lights in the booth in response to game events, and sense when the car crossed the finish line. I have posted more technical details, screenshots, and movies on Monorail Racer’s project page.

Below is a video and some pictures of the game in action:

guest player Monorail Racer game

Monorail Racer lost fuel tank

Posted in Code, Games, General | 265 Comments »

Possible Nintendo Revolution(Wii)-like Gameplay?

6th February 2006

*Edit* – The Nintendo Revolution has been renamed the Nintendo Wii and was released in November of 2006

It occured to me after watching the Nintendo Revolution trailer that my old undergrad game project from 2002 used an interface very similar to Nintendo’s new controller concept. The *very* unfinished project was a simple 3rd-person action game with sword combat enabled through a controller that tracked your hand motions. The player had the following setup:

Left Hand
Right Hand
Nintendo 64 Controller

You would use the analog stick from the N64 controller to control the character’s movement while swinging your right arm with a closed fist to trigger the appropriate attack animations. Its not hard to see the similarities between this setup and Revolution “remote” coupled with the analog stick attachment:

Nintendo Wii Controller

You can download a video of my system in action here or watch below:

If you’re feeling lucky, you can download the rough demo of the system I released a few years back. It actually ended up being pretty intuitive having precise control of the characters movement via the analog stick, while feeling involved with the attacks through the motion of your other hand. You’ll probably notice the lag between the hand gestures and the character’s response – but with some proper tweaking, I think this kind of interface would be a nice change from what’s out there now. And you gotta wonder if this is the kind of gameplay a future Revolution Zelda title might use…

Posted in Games | 126 Comments »

GDC Demo Source Released

26th February 2005

In preparation for my GDC talk in a couple weeks, I posted the source and binary of a demo that illustrates how to setup a ragdoll simulation with ODE and augment it with a control system. This is a simplified version of the demo I did for Game Programming Gems 5… You can download the demo here.

Gdc Demo

Posted in Code, Games | 145 Comments »

Tech Demo Movies and Research Details

22nd December 2002

I posted about 6 movies showing off the game I made around my animation technology. I also posted a postmortem on the game and some technical details on the animation system. See the project page for details…

Posted in Code, Games, Graphics | 170 Comments »

Research Tech Demo Game

14th December 2002

I created a small game (titled Cursed) around the animation technology from my research project. It was created in about 3 weeks with the help of one other programmer. See the project page for details…
 Images Motionsynth Screen5

Posted in Code, Games | 108 Comments »

Star Wars racer demo

15th October 2002

Information on the Star Wars Racing game has been posted.  Briefly, it is a simple two player racing game I completed as a school project in about two weeks…  See its project page for a demo download.  Below are a couple screenshots:

Posted in Code, Games, Graphics | 294 Comments »