Wii with the World

Last semester I made this crazy web app for my final electroacoustic techniques course. The core idea is audience participation through interactive web design. Audience members that navigate to the webpage (hosted on my laptop) are greeted with an avatar that they can name, move around, and click on. All of their actions are recorded and sent back to the php server. Those actions are then sent to the other clients as updates.

Clicking on your avatar not only plays a sound on your laptop, but also plays a sound on the laptops of whomever is nearby you in the virtual space. Additionally, the click registers with the SuperCollider server running on my laptop, which responds by playing audio through the house speakers. The project includes:

  • A SuperCollider Program that procedurally generates melodies based on audience input and on wii audio samples transposed along the pentatonic scale.
  • A PHP Server that both hosts the website and keeps track each audience member's actions in virtual space
  • A simple HTML/CSS webpage
  • A Javascript interface that allows avatar 'mii's to be clicked, dragged, and updated inside a virtual playing field. Musical note graphics give user feedback when each of their respect laptops are playing sound. Implemented using JQuery.
  • JSON packets sent to each client notifying them of other virtual audience members' actions
  • A Flash player that plays the audio, triggered by Javascript events.
This incredible amount of work was done not only by me, but also by Phil Harnish. Special thanks goes out to all the beta testers that had to deal with some really buggy code. If you're interested you can download the source code here.


This Year's Goals

Like everyone else, I too made New Year's resolutions. Here they are in no particular order:

  • More exercise, specifically yoga, every week. My goal is 3x a week, 1 hr a piece
  • Blog once a week. I'm usually pretty good about this, but I started slacking towards the end of last year.
  • maintain 0 inbox, 0 desktop. Alright, so not zero desktop, but manageable.
  • make 5 video games or video game prototypes this year. That works out to a game every 2 1/2 months, which means a game is due in about 7 weeks.
  • make 5 compositions this year.
Whenever you set goals, there are some things you can do to help you achieve them. One is make the goals feasible, another is make them specific (you'll see each of my goals has a number in it). Also, by telling your goals to other people, you become accountable... which is why I'm telling them to you right now.

Well, here's the first installment of my fifth goal. I've been trying to write a piece that incorporates samples of clapping scallops for a while now, and this piece actually does it. The longest part of making this track was cutting up the scallop samples so that they are rhythmically exact at 165bmp. The shortest part of making this track was the vocals. I recorded them from bed in a single 2 minute take.


Cornell Afterschool GameDesign Projects

In case you were wondering how the middle and high school game design course went, we had a showcase at the end of the semester of the kids' work. Predictably, some of their games were a little impractical:But some of them did a remarkable job, including an 8th grader that made a platformer called "Bob's Adventure" pictured below. I recommend you download the exe, since the game is short, fun, and awesome for a middle schooler.All of the kids' projects can be downloaded from our class wiki, and a lot of our course materials are also up there too.


Prototyping End Results

Early last semester I told you about the prototype team I was on for designing games. The end result of that is four games that were each built in a single week. To me they all have some very big flaws, but it's not bad for only a week of development. All of them were implemented with Gamemaker, so they can only be run on PC.

PS, one of our programmers, Richard Hough, is the one hosting these downloadable files. Thanks Richard!

PPS, you can learn a little more about our team here.

NecroMaster (download)

This is a pretty basic defend your tower game. But it sure is hard, I don't think we had enough time to balance gameplay.

Airship Fedora (download)

A platformer, this is probably my favorite of the four gameplay-wise. Jessie has a fascination with fedora hats, and we debated on whether the main character looks like a snowman or a peanut, so it's a quirky game to say the least.

Out of Phase (download)

Also a platformer, this game is probably my least favorite. I love the idea of phase changing, but this game is frustration for me more than anything. It has a tendency to lag. On the upside it has an awesome cut scene.

Web O Flies (download)

A pretty good arcade-style game, I think we did a lot more balancing for this game, which really helped.


BrakeDrum Samples

I bet my friend Tom I could compose a piece for brake drum and electronics that doesn't sound like total crap. Brake drums, usually found on cars, can also be a percussive instrument used in orchestras.

As I'm telling this story to Mark he immediately chimes in that we could find plenty of brake drums at the truck yard just outside town. One day later, I have 7 brake drums, costing me $5 total, each weighing about 20 pounds.

What am I going to do with 7 break drums? Record them of course! I just got a spiffy new Zoom H2 handheld recorder for Christmas and am testing it out. Results below hitting the break drums with a hammer. I want to try a rubber mallet next.


Pixel Art for Middle Schoolers

Don't know if I mentioned this to you, but this past semester my part time job was teaching middle and high school students about game design. This is the same curriculum that my team came up with last spring, now being taught to actual students.
At the end of the semester, parents were invited to come and see the games made by their children. This presented a slight problem, since some of the students weren't motivated enough to produce any assets, let alone a fully functioning game.
Hence, on the Sunday before the showcase, Chelsea and I spent 6 hours creating the most primitive game in existence based on concepts that the students had only barely fleshed out. It was my task to fill in the missing artwork (as well as help with programming), and so this is some of what I came up with.