For our physical computing project in our MA course we anatomised the classic game Asteroids and rethought its logic. Originally it is a single-player game where the user controls a spaceship shooting numerous asteroids. In other multi-player games each user always stays in her own entity and, what is more, the gamers normally play against each other.

 

Our concept embodies a collaboration logic where four to five users depend on each other and need one another to succeed in the game. To create that dependency we designed four super-sized controllers, every one of them with a specific function:

OBJECT FUNCTION
Gun Shooting
Seesaw – left side Rotate left
Seesaw – right side Rotate right
Stairs – top Move forwards
Stairs – bottom Move backwards

 

The idea is mainly to move away from social networking into a more physically connected environment, whilst still maintaining a collaborative end goal on one screen.

 

MY ROLE

I was responsible for the coding part:

  • Communication between Asteroids (run in Processing) and Arduinos
  • Arduino and sensor assembling
  • Programming Arduino boards
  • XBee communication

Thanks to Troy Sandal for publishing his Processing version of Asteroids on OpenProcessing which we based our game development on.

 

For the best possible usability we used XBees, which would not limit the users in their mobility like wires.

Moreover, to guarantee a great user experience and to retain the “magic” in the gaming experience, we hid the technology from the public eye:

Arduino with mounted XBee inside the gun

 

The most difficult and time consuming part was making the XBees work. But, once they work, they are gorgeous magic helpers.

I programmed them like as follows:

Hardware setup

 

In the end, we had the following setup:

Installation setup and data flow

 

My team-mates Dannie and Iris built the super-sized input controllers:

Physical installation setup

 

We exhibited the installation in the course of the “Beyond the Blink” show in our university. Our visitors loved the game and battle for the high-score. In the following are some excerpts of the visitors’ comments:

“It s a great show! […] Quite impressive for the first group which is the game from 4 girls. The first time i came to this room, it such a eye-catching colour. When i took part in this game i felt quite funny and interesting. After i got their idea, I thought it could be achieved in the short future. Looking forward to it become reality. […]”

— E Zhou

“Very impressed by the asteroid game and the alan turing room, but all in all very interesting mix of ideas and approaches!”

— Andres

“A lot of interesting works, the asteroid one is really fun!!”

— Camille

“I think this is a fantastic exhibition in terms of interactive with someone, especially the interactive shooting game. it is really creative. thanks.”

— Ally Wang

“Shooting game is fantastic!!!!!!!!”

— YuSu

“It is very cool! I love the game, even I am not good at any computer game. […] love this exhibition.”

— Mika

 

Here is our latest high-score team:

Our latest high-score team