Space Bounce Physical Game Controller

Steven Goodwin, AKA Marquis de Geek created an entertaining game where you control a spaceman climbing down some sort of mine shaft. On the way, he must collect some sort of glowing star-rock things and avoid spikes by jumping from one side of the cavity to the other. Unlike some other games where you can simply control the position of your character through continuous left/right controller presses, once spaceman jumps, he’s committed to traveling to the other side. It’s an interesting — and perhaps more realistic — movement method, and a perfect scenario for an alternative control scheme.

His custom controller uses an Arduino installed with the standard Firmata firmware as an interface, which takes in inputs from two pressure mats that the player stands on. Whenever a person’s foot leaves the pad, the on-screen character jumps, making a nice representation of what’s happening on-screen. It takes a while for the space man to fly from one side to another, giving the actual human time to balance on the other. A PC running the Johnny-Five library gets state changes from the Arduino, and runs a Node server to interact with the JavaScript game via WebSockets.

LEDs were also added to each pressure mat to indicate their states, which aren’t technically required, but should make things a bit more fun — and easier to troubleshoot. You can see it demonstrated in the video below, and code for the game is available here.

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Author: Jeremy S. Cook

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