Hacking Wing Commander for Windows 7 Compatibility

For everyone using  a later version of Windows like Vista or Windows 7 they will probably never get to enjoy the awesomeness that was Wing Commander…until now. [Jari Komppa] has managed to use DirectDraw to his advantage and hack out a solution to this disappointing problem.  He used DirectX to do this and has even managed to get OpenGL to load from a DLL after a few problems with Windows XP and Windows 7.  This is truly a step forward in retro gaming.  No more should we have to load a virtual machine to play Starcraft.  Hopefully getting this ported to even older games such as Sim Farm or Commander Keen are on the way!

Zune gets hacked, OpenZDK

Here is one that really got some of us at the HAD offices excited (yes, we own Zunes). The introduction of the Open Zune Development Kit. Sure, there was XNA, and we even toyed around with it. But anyone will quickly realize just how limited XNA is, especially with older hardware.

OpenZDK is in its infancy, with only one application thus far (don’t worry, you can still use XNA apps too). But we wanted to give it a shout out and let the hacker community make this potential into a reality.

[Thanks Galen]

Developing physical controllers for the uninitiated

[Dave] hosted a one day seminar at the Illinois Institute of Technology which focused on rapid electronics prototyping for those with little prior experience blinking those LEDs. As the defacto standard for novice prototypers it’s no surprise that he gave an Arduino to each team to use as the controller-computer interface. He started the day by getting the Firmata package up and running. Firmata is a set of libraries that make communications between software and a microcontrollers simple. In this case, each team developed a Flash game that used data from the Arduino as a control.

Several rudimentary games resulted from the day. We’ve embedded video of two of them after the break for your enjoyment. Lion Vs. Pig uses potentiometers, a distance sensor, and an arcade button to play a game of cat-and-mouse (well, Lion-and-Pig really). The other is Kick the Cat, a game that uses a flex sensor and force sensor combination as input. This is something of a virtual mini-basketball game that uses a springy material to launch a virtual feline at a target.

These teams already had a background in code, but the hardware was a new endeavor for them. Arduino helps to break down this cross-over barrier and we think this will result in more people to contribute to open source projects, and falling hardware prices due to a larger volume of demand.

[Read more...]

In-depth MAME cocktail cabinet build

mamebuild31_sm

Recently, a friend of ours got married who is a Ms. Pac-Man fanatic. His best man set out to fulfill the groom’s dream of owning a Ms. Pac-Man cocktail cabinet. The problem is that the unit he was after was selling for $2500. It’s great to buy the real thing (and with guest contributions he did,) but if it’s not available consider building your own.

[Alex] has put together a comprehensive guide for building a MAME cocktail cabinet. Unlike the mini-cabinet we saw last week, this is intended to be used sitting down and features controls on more than one side. His guide details the use of an original arcade CRT or an LCD flat panel, high-end controls via an I-Pac 4 controller, and a PC running MAME and MaLa software for Windows. The result is a professional looking build with controls on three sides of the table.

[via Gizmodo]

Lunar lander remade

For those that are lucky enough to remember it, Lunar Lander was a fantastic game. Though it had simple vector graphics and highly repetitive game play, it kept us captivated. We probably lost entire weeks of our lives competing with friends to be the best. Well, now we can relive that experience with a physical version of the game. [Lain] built this fantastic arcade style game to replicate Lunar Lander’s game play exactly. The style of the project is fantastic with giant analog meters and dials giving real time feedback.  You even get a prize if you complete all 3 levels. You can get plenty of build details by going through his blog. Maybe he should hook up with the folks that built the Apollo landing computer replica to build the ultimate simulator.

[thanks Mike]

Accelerometer controlled pong

[Perry's] awesome AcceLED Pong project gives new life to a classic game by adding acceleration-based control. The pong paddles are moved by tilting the circuit left or right. Motion is measured by an ADXL203 dual axis accelerometer, and an ATMEGA32 microcontroller converts acceleration into ball and paddle movement. The game display is a three-color SparkFun 8×8 LED matrix with serial interface.

[Perry] also used a similar setup to make a USB LED spectrum analyzer fed by the Linux XMMS media player.

OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator teardown

m8ta fun did an extensive teardown of OCZ’s Neural Impulse Actuator (NIA). OCZ’s computer/mind interface is actually a fairly straight forward design. An analog front-end cleans and amplifies the ‘neural’ signal with a few op-amps before feeding it to a 24 bit analog to digital converter (ADC). A USB enabled PIC microcontroller reads the 24bit parallel ADC output through a common 7400 series parallel to serial adapter IC. The device has an ICSP programing header (top right), though it’s not yet clear if the PIC can be read or written.

[Thanks, joeyo]

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