Wipeout Reimagined with Quantum Levitation

You might have heard of quantum levitation, AKA the Meissner effect, flux pinning or superconducting magnetic levitation. But if you haven’t had the pleasure, then here’s what the fuss is all about:

When those two magnets are placed on the track and sent swirling in different directions, don’t you wish you could have a go yourself? Just me? I suppose I do bloody love magnets. But I’m not alone in this, however…

Wipeout Cover

A team from the ‘Japan Institute of Science and Technology’ (JIST) have sought to create a table-top game using the principles of quantum levitation at it’s core. Their inspiration? The classic racer wipE’out” on PlayStation.

Although there is some skepticism as to the authenticity of this work (there is no JIST and their video looks too smooth) the proof of concept alone is very cool, and obviously a lot of work has been put into this very clever fake. Take a look for yourself:

Super Smash Land: A Game Boy Demake

If a remake is bringing an old favourite up to date on a modern platform, ‘demaking’ is the act of taking a contemporary form and representing it in a nostalgic or long-lost one.

That’s what Dan Fornace, a digital media major of Drexel University, has pulled off in his demake of Super Smash Brothers (originally released on Nintendo consoles N64, Gamecube and Wii).

He’s taken sprites from much loved characters Mario, Pikachu, Link and Kirby, rebuilt famous environments from their classic handheld games, and created Super Smash Land, a game that looks and feels like it was intended for play on an original Game Boy: in all it’s greyscale, green-tinted, and pixellated glory. Take a look:

Dan has collaborated with chiptune musicians Inversephase and flashygoodness, lending an authentic, 8-bit feel to the game’s action.

What a perfect act of creation: simple, thoughtful and fun. It works better for it’s low-res format, allowing the content to ooze nostalgia of the kind only a fanboy could hope to infuse.

Super Smash Land is available as a free download here.

Gameboy Emulator for Android

You know how I love my phone like it was a sexy robot from the future? Well check this shit out. It’s also a full-blown GBA emulator, which with its massive AMOLED screen, and dual core processing, makes my Samsung way more awesome than I could possibly have conceived.

This is a screenshot from Tiger GBA running Advance Wars 2, on it’s original resolution (you can upscale but I like to kick it oldshool). The app integrates with a ROM downloader, where one can select ‘backups’ of the games they already own in order to play.

Legal note: it is against the law to download and play ROM backups of games you do not own. So play safe!

Anyone for Tonsil Tennis?

This is pretty cool I guess. The idea is that your partner “helps you” to play a video game by letting you snog them in different ways (while you’re looking at a computer screen and therefore not really paying attention).

It’s a bit gross, but it’s still a novel idea, so have a look:

What’s the mechanic here?

The Kiss Controller interface has two components: a customized headset that functions as a sensor receiver and a magnet that provides sensor input. The user affixes a magnet to his/ her tongue with Fixodent. Magnetic field sensors are attached to the end of the headset and positioned in front of the mouth. As the user moves her tongue, this creates varying magnetic fields that are used to control games.

We demonstrate the Kiss Controller bowling game. One person has a magnet on his/her tongue and the other person wears the headset. While they kiss, the person who has the magnet on his/her tongue, controls the direction and speed of the bowling ball for 20 seconds. The goals of this game are to guide the ball so that it maintains an average position in the center of the alley and to increase the speed of the ball by moving the tongue faster while kissing.

And what’s the point?

I literally do not know. If I were the developers I’d have focused on highlighting their innovative technique to use the tongue as an input device: it’s the most dexterous muscle in the body and it’s use is often one of the few remaining facilities among paralytics.

Can’t this be a remote control for wheelchairs or similar, rather than a Wii Sports ripoff? Come on guys…

More details here: Kiss Controller.

ARRR! Augmented Reality Pirates!

Cambridge-based Augmented Reality specialists Optricks Media have just released their newest creation: AR! Pirates.

[box type=”note”]Attention, mateys! As of May 26th, AR! Pirates is available for free on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad on the App Store. ARRR!![/box]

It’s a swashbuckling shoot-em-up game for Symbian devices (Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson) that uses a really unique marker-based mechanic: the coins in your pocket!

In AR mode, three coins laid out in a triangle become a desert island, and the surface they are on become the ocean. The idea is to stop waves of marauding pirates from stealing your buried treasure, so you must aim your device to blast the approaching galleons with your cannon, whilst avoiding their fire by moving (yes, moving!) out of harm’s way.

The more ships you sink, the more treasure you earn and the more power-ups you unlock. There are 30 levels in all, including battles with the Spanish Armada, drunken pirates and ghost ships. It costs 99p to download the full version, chargeable to your phone bill.

Here’s a video of the game in action!

As you’ve seen, the innovative approach that Optricks have taken with their markers mean it’s possible to play at any scale. You could use coins to keep the game small enough to play in the pub, or you could ‘upscale’ and use larger discs (like frisbees) to play with massive pirate ships. The best bit: the larger the markers, the larger the field of play, and the more immersive the player experience!

This is one of the best, most purposeful uses of AR that I’ve seen. There are too many use-cases where ‘the medium is the message’ – but in this instance the medium is what connects you to the content, rather than defines your experience of it. Great work Ian, Gavin, Marcus and Dylan.

Here’s the link again: AR! Pirates.

Crowdsourced Protein Shakes

I read about Foldit in Wired US yesterday, a game that takes the foundations laid by SETI@home, which uses thousands of computers’ idle time to decode frequencies from Space, and crowdsources solutions to the protein folding problems that are currently baffling the smartest machines in the world.

The difference with Foldit is that it’s not PC idle time that is tapped into here, but players’ idle time. There is no algorithm that can yet match humans’ depth perception; natural ability to recognise patterns; and see causal links in their actions. These traits make us humans the ideal CPU to solve these ‘protein-puzzles’:

Foldit provides a series of tutorials in which the player manipulates simple protein-like structures, and a periodically updated set of puzzles based on real proteins. The application displays a graphical representation of the protein’s structure which the user is able to manipulate with the aid of a set of tools.

As the structure is modified, a “score” is calculated based on how well-folded the protein is, based on a set of rules. A list of high scores for each puzzle is maintained. Foldit users may create and join groups, and share puzzle solutions with each other; a separate list of group high scores is maintained.

Indeed, the creators report that groups working together have led to breakthroughs not matched by either individuals or heavy-duty computing power. It is the power of the engaged-masses that the Baker Lab, research team behind the game are hoping will bring forth potential cures for HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Alzheimer’s.

More info on the game and it’s background on their Science Portal.

Does this remind anyone of War Games?