Video game installations for kids’ parties

Why won’t someone think of the children?! Actually, some of the best hacks come from entertaining the little ones. Take [Piles of Spam's] two video game builds. The first is a telescope-based controller that is used to shoot virtual cannon balls at a projection of a pirate ship. The second is a two-player cooperative game where one player drives and the other shoots. Both of them use a projector to display the playing field, an IR laser for targeting, and an NTSC camera to pick up the location of the laser dot. This works really well, thanks to the quality of the physical builds, and great audio and video on the game side of things. See for yourself in the clips after the break.

A couple of posts into the thread [Piles of Spam] talks about laser intensity. He wanted to make sure that there wouldn’t be a room full of half-blind five year olds thanks to the targeting system.

Pirate Game

Space Game

Comments

  1. Scuzz says:

    Holy wow on the making the games bit. I guess I’ve never really given full-on 3D game making a try, mostly out of terror of the process consuming my precious little remaining time.

    I agree with the response on the forum! That is one lucky kid.

  2. JC says:

    Nice job. I wouldn’t know where to start on the software side!

    Love the name, btw “Piles of Spam”

  3. skuhl says:

    Awesomest dad award!!!

  4. dan fruzzetti says:

    That’s really cool. Now can you think of a way to make some similar, non-shooting-oriented games for those of us who won’t have toy guns or virtual toy guns in the house, because we have real guns and don’t believe in taking gunfire lightly?

  5. Jim says:

    ^ Haha!

  6. Colecago says:

    Awesome. We need scaled up versions for us bigger kids (adults)

  7. Amos says:

    What @skuhl said!

    @dan fruzzetti:

    And you’re not /using/ toy guns and virtual guns to /teach/ your kids gun safety… why?

    I’ve even got a “plug’n’play” TV light-gun deer hunting game that teaches you to engage the trigger safety before you “walk around” in the virtual woods.

    You’ve got to start early with those little skulls full of mush… You don’t want them learning about guns on the playground or from popular culture, do you?

  8. john says:

    Not an expert but it seems to me that invisible lasers and kids don’t mix. Am I wrong?

  9. Dave says:

    @John-

    Check out the forum- you need to calculate the energy and limit accordingly. At this point it’s limited to a lot less energy than you’d normally experience by looking into the business end of an IR remote control.

  10. Mikey says:

    Pretty awesome on the hardware side — but the games seriously blow.

    On the first one, seriously, wtf, at least line the cannon balls up so they look like they could be shot from the cannon, calibration (so long as the cannon is at a fixed point) should be very simple — and what kind of pirate ship just sails back and fourth while you shoot at it? On top of that, what kind of pirate ship catches on fire because you hit one of the sails with a cannon ball (yet the sail is still there and mobility of the ship is not affected at all…) Physics libraries people, just grab one that suits your needs, plug it in, and bam — you’re done!

    On the second one, either his background is a texture mapped to a cube, or his projection matricies are seriously fucked up. Ugh. Very painful to watch… and a bit painful to listen to, but the games being made for kids, I guess the sound effects are pseudo-appropriate. >.<

  11. Dave says:

    Thanks for posting Mikey. You’ve got some good points here, and you’d get them across better if you could try to be less condescending in the future.

    For the first one, what you’re seeing is parallax from the camcorder that I’m using and the position of the cannon at the time (You can’t SEE the laser so it’s hard to guarantee that it’s coming straight out of the cannon when you glue it in). There is a calibration routine and when you stand behind the cannon it works pretty accurately. I didn’t calibrate before filming with that placement, and didn’t think anybody would notice.

    I looked at Newton and Bullet among others for physics libraries, and they look like they would be easy enough to plug in for something like motion of the boat through water or cannonball flight, or bouncing around in a box, but if you want to do what you’re talking about the only way I saw was to make your structure piecewise destructable with a push factor for each piece (no physics library required for that) or derive the sails’ effects on the boat, along with the wind effect on the sails (there is no such thing as bam you’re done in an air resistance equation). The next problem is that you need to constantly translate between the physics world and your 3D engine’s world. Certainly not that hard, but extra programming work for every object.

    You’re right- I did a cube skybox and hacked the whole thing out with the gimp in about 2 hours. The RIGHT way to do it is a skydome. I did one at first but the top and bottom were swirled and I couldn’t straighten it out. Although I limited movement in the final product to a 2D plane and you couldn’t see the swirls anyway, I didn’t originally do that, and ran out of time before the birthday party, which is a pretty hard deadline !

    Members of my family were terrific sports in recording the voices, which I filtered and normalized just a little over saturated to make it sound a little bit like it was coming over a radio headset. I did learn that proper voice acting is a real skill.

    The games were for a 4th and 5th birthday party. Older kids get bored fast, but my target demographic had a blast. The parents are more curious about how it works.

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