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Better headtracking

30 Jan

Generally, I’ve been having some trouble with my headtracking in game.

The problem that I’ve been facing is that if you are leaning to one side or the other, the headtracking wont pick up the headset. It gets very frustrating as users try to find the exact spot you need to be sitting in to get it to work.

After bringing this up during the recent working prototype, end of semester one presentations, Adam suggested using two wiimotes.

I’ve since tried using two wiimotes, and after nearly an entire day trying to find the right positions for the two wiimotes to be in, I think I have it sussed.

First of all I tried one wiimote on top and one wiimote infront pointing towards the hat so the two wiimotes form an L shape.

This didnt work at all, as I later discovered, it was how the wiimotes handled the x axis that was the problem rather than the originally suspected y axis.

Next, I tried having a distance of a few inches between the two wiimotes and have them angled towards a central point. This didn’t work very well.

I then brought them closer together, and I had better luck but still nothing substantial.

I then played around with the positioning for a few hours until I found a great spot. 3cm apart from eachother, both facing directly downwards.

This seems to give good coverage of the hat, I then merge the results together in the code and give an average. By doing this I get a good range of an extra few inches either side, the cursor will now appear on screen if the hat is roughly in the right place, then you can adjust yourself to find the best spot for you.

I’m going to test this out on monday with the card cabinet, hopefully it will work just as well there.

Self promotion

26 Jan

To get the word out about my project, I’m aiming to do a range of self promotion.

I’ve already started setting up the two accompanying websites that are the central hub of the project promotion, I’ve set up twitter accounts to link to these sites too, so that you can follow for specific updates on the project.

Previously, I’ve used my connections with envato active to start talking about the project on twitter, and I’m utalising twitter to talk to magazines like computer arts to spread the word of my project.

I will also be looking to a site called for some help. Kickstarter is a crowd based project funding site. On kickstarter, you promise people that you will give back to them something in order to get them to give some money towards your project. You can give them credit, promotional items or unique physical gifts, anything you can think of that would be interesting enough for them to give you money towards your project.

This is an interesting way of self promotion, blog sites often pick up the more interesting and noteworthy projects on there and it also helps to spread the word about your project whilst giving you money towards your project. I’ll be using the money to help build my arcade cabinet and get some good lighting.

I want to have some really good lighting for my project, and recently while listening to evan raskobs talk, he mentioned that his friend has built a dmx shield for arduino so that you can control huge, professional lighting rigs all through an arduino. This is perfect for me, and hopefully with kickstarter, I can fund the theatrical treat that I want my project to be.

Making a working prototype

25 Jan

Recently, I have been concentrating on working the bugs out of my game and creating a working level prototype that I can test with.

The main thing thats holding me back from mass testing is the fact that the head tracking still needs some work done so that it will work regardless of who sits in the booth and how they sit in it.

Anyway, the game itself is coming along nicely. With only a few little things to figure out now, im happy with this as a working prototype.

The boss level is something I’ve been working on a lot recently. I wanted something else to happen at the end to make it feel like you achieved something rather than the previous, lack luster way the level ended.

You have to kill bowie and take away all his lives. But, now, when he gets down to his last life, you go into a head to head mode where you have a mind battle off with him. This helps emphasise that bowie has superior mind powers and isnt just another opponent.

I need to add a little more to finish up how the endings are handled, but otherwise it’s all good so far.

Here’s a video to show you how it looks:

I’m fairly happy with this now, the whole look and feel of the game. Just needs that few extra tweaks.

I’d be even happier when I get the physical side sorted out. Need to discuss this with Adam I think.

Mocking up minitures

23 Jan

After a while of looking for different arcade cabinet designs and mocking them up in autocad, I finally decided on a design that I liked and thought I better making it a physical thing.

So, first of all, I was looking at arcade cabinets that were the traditional stand up ones. I designed the following first of all in autocad.

As you can see, it’s a bit of strange, plain design. It’s taking the traditional cabinet design and adding a seat inside instead of the screen. When I tried to explain this design to people, they got confused about which way they would face as with these cabinets you face in rather than out. I also felt like it wasn’t great looking so I thought about this some more.

I had a look around sit in arcade cabinets and one that inspired me the most was the star wars cabinet.

What I really liked about this design was that the seat was so prominent in its design. It made it super obvious that you had to sit down to play this game. The fact it’s a full enclosure as well was nice. But yet, with the inclusion of the seat, it still retained the classic arcade style that I wanted. So, from this, I went away and made a new design.

With this design, the seating area becomes more prominent in the design, the podium in front where the controls are become integrated with the cabinet and the person sitting in the cabinet is on display. This is something that was lacking from the previous design, the user was hidden away. I didn’t like this as you couldn’t see the hat and how people were playing the game.

Seeing people control this game using just their heads, I think, is a big part of this game, so having the user on display is a must.

After I created this design, I thought that I should make a physical object out of it to see how it would look. The design is made to scale (I think, I’m not great at autocad), so that it can be scaled up later on.

I printed out the designs, glued them to some foam board, cut them out and stuck them together. It’s pretty rapid prototyping, if very rough.

I started off with just a piece of foam board and a knife.

I cut out the shapes and stuck them together with double sided taped. On the technical drawings, I have left in the area where the seat should be and some extra features for inside the front plinth. The front plinth will hold the projector and a mac mini. It will also hold some electronics for the start button and the headset base unit. You can see on this image where I’ve placed the shelves for the projector etc and some ventilation holes. Got to remember that I cant let it over heat in there.

Added and extra side and top.

See, now the seat is in place. It looks a lot more like a nice booth now.

Now, it’s all put together. I’m pleased with how this looks in it’s 3D form. If anything, It’s shown me that perhaps it’s too wide. You can easily sit in a position where the head tracking wouldnt work here. So that’s something I can rectify.

The seat looks prominent and the user will be clearly seen in this booth.

I’m happy with this new design. I will have to work on it being segmented for easy moving. Hopefully that wont be too much of a problem.

New domain names

23 Jan

When I was creating my design document (it’s all part of the project), I was writing up what I intended to do for self promotion of this project.

I decided that I would have a project specific website with its own domain. After a while of hunting out domain names combinations, I settled on I would have prefered a .com, but that domain was taken for some very poor pc game. were both taken too. By design agencies. So I was only really left with one choice.

For this site, I’ve decided that I’ll run it on wordpress. This will allow me to update easily. I initially wanted to run it on as this makes blogging and updating even easier than wordpress, but, I went and bought the domain with UK2, and they wouldnt allow me to access the settings that would let me direct the domain name to a posterous account. Oh well. is now running on my own server and that should be fine for now.

Something else that I wanted to do was to create a small viral campaign for the game. The whole premise of this was born out of the fact I was looking up domain names for the game. One of the possibilites that I went for was I sent this to amee and she asked why I wanted a site called mrs space and if she was going to have a blog. The idea was born. I run a parrallel blog site that updates every day or every few days with little posts from mrs space giraffe, the main characters wife. She will post giraffe fashion tips, cooking tips etc. At the time of the show, she will start posting about how her husband hasnt come home and how she misses him. This will hopefully promote the main game and try and inspire people to save mr space giraffe. After the show, he will return home and everything will be grand.

After learning from the previous mistake, I hosted this domain somewhere else and linked it to

So now, I have these two domains:

Hopefully this will help spread the word of the game around the web and get people interested in this project.

Adding some new features

21 Jan

Recently, I have been testing my game with others in its entirety. I found some interesting things.

Firstly, I found that using the brainwave input to start the game isnt reliable. It turns out that the hat will occasionally pick up input if its left by itself. I have no idea why that is at all. Instead, I should change this input to more of an arcade game feel. I don’t think I could have a coin input, but I could have a button to press.

Secondly, I found that it’s generally confusing and jarring when you beat david bowie in the boss level. I noticed this myself previously, but Martyn suggested that there could be a laser duel, where you have to concentrate very hard to destroy bowie. There could be a laser beam that goes back and forth between the two characters.

This seemed to me like a good idea, it would add some more drama to defeating the boss, and make taking out his last life a lot more noticable and with some extra animation scenes, it would add some more closure to the end of the level.

I’ve been working on this the last few days, it’s been tricky.

I thought it would be something that I could input and get working in a matter of minutes, but, for some reason, it’s just not having it.

Flash, being the pain that it can be, wouldnt let the timer function I had just written stop, this is the first time that has happened to me, so it took a while to figure out that the timer function was to blame.

Luckily, I replaced this with an enter frame function and all was grand. Now, the boss fight works, I just need to tinker around with the settings, animate some video and I’ll have something to record for next week.

I’ve also been redesigning the logo with the help of Lee and Gary who have lived through the 80’s.

Lee suggested that the colouring of my logo didnt fit with the style of the game. This is true, I wasn’t feeling the paper texture. It was just there to fill in the gaps at the time.

After Lee suggested a nice 80’s gradient style, I set about redesigning it. Lee suggested that I should use a horizon style colouring, so blue merging to orange to give that retro clashing feel.

After a few hours playing around with it in class, I came up with this. I’m very happy with how this looks and I have even surprised myself with just how much I like it.

It reminds me of a classic arcade game, it really gives the feel of the arcade. The logo itself kind of reminds me of mortal kombat, and the colouring of some sort of racing game, but I just cant put my finger on what it is. Essentially, the research I did for this was watch some Duran Duran videos and ask Gary what kind of colours are quintessentially 80’s.

I can see this looking great on the side of a big cabinet. Nice.

Making lights mind controlled

12 Jan

Finally, I managed to have control over the LED lights through an arduino.

Last time, I broke an arduino and I thought I had the circuit working, but it turns out it wasnt really. I had to figure out the circuit by myself.

I had a feeling something was up with how the circuit was grounding, so I got myself a 9v battery and set about reworking the circuit.

First of all, I decided that I should read up on transistors and how they work because I had no idea. With some basic understanding, I was in a better position to put the circuit together.

I then had a look at how LED’s can be put in circuit with transisitors. With the help of this nice diagram, I had enough to go on. I was treating the LED strip not like LED’s before, when I actually thought about them as just a single LED, it made it so much simpler to understand and put it into a controllable circuit.

With this diagram, I made myself this circuit but with normal LED’s first of all to see that I could control them with the transistors in place. Once I could do this, I was fairly confident that I could control the LED strip.

Luckily, this worked. So I moved on to putting the LED strip into this circuit. Currently I only intend to control one colour, but I would like to be able to control other colours at the same time too and have the LED strip react to the game.

I connected up the circuit how I thought it would work, powered it by a 9v battery, and it all seemed to work! With a simple adruino sketch, I had the lights fading on and off no problem at all. The next step was getting it to be mind controlled. This is fairly straight forward. I just had to set the brightness of the LED’s to be the same values as the incoming attention values from the headset. Easy peasy, and it worked straight away.

Finally, this is something that I’ve been struggling with for a little while now, so I’m glad to see that it’s working as I had in mind.