The trend in video games is toward not being able to differentiate them from live-action theatrical releases, and games studios are getting hard to tell from movie studios. But quality graphics don’t always translate into quality gameplay, and a lot can be accomplished with minimalist graphics. Turn the clock back a few decades and think about the quarters sucked up by classics like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and even Pong if you have any doubts about that.
But even Pong had more than 64 pixels to work with, which is why this dungeon-crawler game on an 8×8 RGB matrix is so intriguing. You might think [Stolistic]’s game would be as simple as possible but think again. The video below shows it in action, and while new users will need a little help figuring out what the various colors mean, the game is remarkably engaging. The structure of the dungeon is random with multiple levels to unlock via the contents of power-up chests, and there are mobs to battle in a zoomed-in display. The game runs on an Arduino Uno and the matrix is driven by a bunch of 74HC595 shift registers.
Self-described “Inventor Dad” [pepelepoisson]’s project is called Stecchino (English translation link here) and it’s an Arduino-based physical balancing game that aims to be intuitive to use and play for all ages. Using the Stecchino (‘toothpick’ in Italian) consists of balancing the device on your hand and trying to keep it upright for as long as possible. The LED strip fills up as time passes, and it keeps records of high scores. It was specifically designed to be instantly understood and simple to use by people of all ages, and we think it has succeeded in this brilliantly.
To sense orientation and movement, Stecchino uses an MPU-6050 gyro and accelerometer board. An RGB LED strip gives feedback, and it includes a small li-po cell and charger board for easy recharging via USB. The enclosure is made from a few layers of laser-cut and laser-engraved material that also holds the components in place. The WS2828B LED strip used is technically a 5 V unit, but [pepelepoisson] found that feeding them direct from the 3.7 V cell works just fine; it’s not until the cell drops to about three volts that things start to glitch out. All source code and design files are on GitHub.
While video games have grown more and more complex over the last few decades, TWANG takes things in the opposite direction as an Arduino Mega-based 1D dungeon crawler consisting of an RGB LED strip.
The player—a dot—is controlled via an accelerometer mounted to a door spring used as a joystick. With it, the player can move forwards, backwards, and attack by “twanging” the spring to make it vibrate. The LEDs display a wide array of colors, including representations of glowing lava, water, and player disintegration when a mistake is made.
A delightful version of a clever one-dimensional game has been made by [Critters] which he calls TWANG! because the joystick is made from a spring doorstop with an accelerometer in the tip. The game itself is played out on an RGB LED strip. As a result, the game world, the player, goal, and enemies are all represented on a single line of LEDs.
How can a dungeon crawler game be represented in 1D, and how is this unusual game played? The goal is for the player (a green dot) to reach the goal (a blue dot) to advance to the next level. Making this more difficult are enemies (red dots) which move in different ways. The joystick is moved left or right to advance the player’s blue dot left or right, and the player can attack with a “twang” motion of the joystick, which eliminates nearby enemies. By playing with brightness and color, a surprising amount of gameplay can be jammed into a one-dimensional display!
Code for TWANG! is on github and models for 3D printing the physical pieces are on Thingiverse. The video (embedded below) focuses mainly on the development process, but does have the gameplay elements explained as well and demonstrates some slick animations and sharp feedback.
For those who love to hike, no excuse is needed to hit the woods. Other folks, though, need a little coaxing to get into the great outdoors, which is where geocaching comes in: hide something in the woods, post clues to its location online, and they will come. The puzzle is the attraction, and doubly so for this geocache with an Arduino-powered game of Hangman that needs to be solved before the cache is unlocked.
The actual contents of a geocache are rarely the point — after all, it’s the journey, not the destination. But [cliptwings]’ destination is likely to be a real crowd pleaser. Like many geocaches, this one is built into a waterproof plastic ammo can. Inside the can is another door that can only be unlocked by correctly solving a classic game of Hangman. The game itself may look familiar to long-time Hackaday readers, since we featured it back in 2009. Correctly solving the puzzle opens the inner chamber to reveal the geocaching goodness within.
Cleverly, [cliptwings] mounted the volt battery for the Arduino on top of the inner door so that cachers can replace a dead battery and play the game; strangely, the cache entry on Geocaching.com (registration required) does not instruct players to bring a battery along.
We are excited to announce that UnlimitedHand is now an officially licensed Arduino AtHeart product. Created by Japanese startup H2L, the wearable controller straps around your forearm like an Ace bandage and allows you to actually touch and feel things within the gaming world.
UnlimitedHandconsists of a 3D motion sensor, an array of muscle sensors, a multi-channel electronic muscle stimulator, and a vibration motor, which together, enable you to interact with objects and characters in VR. It does this by syncing the movement of a user’s hand and fingers with its virtual counterpart, and contracting the muscles on the wearer’s forearm to simulate haptic feedback.
With UnlimitedHand, not only will you be able to experience the ricochet of a gunshot or pet animals, but also hack various customized gestures thanks to its full compatibility with the Arduino IDE.
According to H2L:
Arduino, with their commitment to open-source, has reached out with their technology to muster a great force of Makers and inventors. This omni-present community has no doubt supported us in many ways during the development of UnlimitedHand. By joining the program, we can now present our results back to the community.
[Marcelo Maximiano’s] son had a school project. He and a team of students built “The Pyramid’s Secret“–an electronic board game using the Arduino Nano. [Marcelo] helped with the electronics, but the result is impressive and a great example of packaging an Arduino project. You can see a video of the game, below.
In addition to the processor, the game uses a WT5001M02 MP3 player (along with an audio amplifier) to produce music and voices. There’s also a rotary encoder, an LCD, a EEPROM (to hold the quiz questions and answers), and an LED driver. There’s also a bunch of LEDs, switches, and a wire maze that requires the player to navigate without bumping into the wire (think 2D Operation).
In addition to the code and hardware diagrams, there is a PDF file on GitHub describing more about the game. It is in Portuguese, though, so most of us will probably need a little translation help. However, a Brazillian site did have an English post about the game, which might be a good place to start.
You might not want to replicate the game, but it is a great example of how much an Arduino can do with some simple externals devices and some attention to packaging.
Sadly, most of our projects look more like this game (no offense to that hacker). Projects like this are way more likely to spark young people’s interest than a blinking LED or a capacitor meter. If you are more in the mood for arcade play, you can also check out Arduinocade.
The “Navigation Thing“ was designed and built by [Jan Mrázek] as part of a night game activity for high school students during week-long seminar. A night-time path through a forest had stations with simple tasks, and the Navigation Thing used GPS, digital compass, a beeper, and a ring of RGB LEDs to provide a bit of “Wow factor” while guiding a group of students from one station to the next. The devices had a clear design direction:
“I wanted to build a device which a participant would find, insert batteries, and follow the beeping to find the next stop. Imagine the strong feeling of straying in the middle of the night in an unknown terrain far away from civilization trusting only a beeping thing you found. That was the feeling I wanted to achieve.”
The Navigation Things (there are six in total) guide users to fixed waypoints with GPS, a digital compass, and a ring of WS2812 LEDs — but the primary means of feedback to the user is a beeping that gets faster as you approach the destination. [Jan] had only four days to make all six units, which was doable. But as most of us know, delivering on a tight deadline is often less about doing the work you know about, and more about effectively handling the unexpected obstacles that inevitably pop up in the process.
The first real problem to solve was the beeping itself. “Beep faster as you get closer to the destination” seems like a simple task, but due to the way humans perceive things it’s more complex than it sounds. We perceive large changes easier than small incremental ones, so a straight linear change in beep frequency based on distance doesn’t work very well. Similar problems (and their solutions) exist whether you’re controlling volume, brightness, or just about anything else that humans perceive. Instead of encoding distance as a beep frequency, it’s much more effective to simply use beeps to signal overall changes: beep noticeably slower as you move away, but beep much faster as you get close.
The other interesting problems were less straightforward and were related to the digital compass, or magnetometer. The first problem was that the piezo buzzers [Jan] sourced contained no actual piezo elements. They contained magnets – which interfered with the operation of the digital compass. After solving that, still more compass problems arose. When testing the final units in the field, the compass readings were not as expected and [Jan] had no idea why.
After careful troubleshooting, the culprit was found: the AA cells on the other side of the circuit board. Every AA cell has a faint (and slightly different) magnetic field, and the proximity and placement of the cells with respect to the magnetometer was causing the deviation. Happily, the fix was simple once the problem was understood: calibrate the compass every time new batteries are inserted.
[Mathieu] wrote in with his laser target practice game. It’s not the most amazing hack in the history of hackery, but it’s an excellent example of the type of simple and fun things you can do with just a little bit of microcontrollering.
First off, the gun is a broken toy gun that used to shoot something other than red collimated light beams. The Arduino knockoff inside reacts to a trigger pull and fires the laser for around 200 milliseconds. The gun also has a “gas gauge” that fills up with repeated shots and cools down over time. And therein lies the game — a simple race to ten, where each player only has a fixed number of shots over time.
The targets are simply a light sensor, scorekeeping LED display, and a buzzer that builds tension by beeping at you as the countdown timer ticks down. The bodies are made out of 3D-printed corners that connect some of [Mathieu]’s excess wooden goat-cheese lids.
All the code is up on GitHub so you can make your own with stuff that you’ve got lying around the house. The “gun” can be anything that you can embed a laser in that makes it aimable. Good clean fun!
[Dr.Duino] recently completed the latest piece of what he calls “Interactive Furniture” – the GoonieBox. It took over 800 hours of design and assembly work and the result is fascinating. Part clock and part puzzle box, it’s loaded with symbols, moving parts, lights, riddles, sounds, switches, and locked compartments. It practically begs visitors to take a closer look.
The concept of Interactive Furniture led [Dr.Duino] to want to create a unique piece of decor that visitors could interact with. That alone wasn’t enough — he wanted something that wouldn’t require any explanation of how it worked; something that intrinsically invited attention, inspection, and exploration. This quest led to creating The GoonieBox, named for its twin inspirations of the 1985 film The Gooniesas well as puzzles from the game “The Room“.
Embedded below are two short videos: the first demonstrates the functions of the box, and the second covers the build process. There’s laser-cut wood, plenty of 3D printed parts, and a whole lot of careful planning and testing.
Puzzle boxes let people show off their creativity over a wide range of different executions, like these simpler laser-cut puzzle boxes and on the other end of the spectrum is this timed, multi-stage puzzle rigged to blow. Not only is this build one of the more complex ones we’ve seen, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen a puzzle box so carefully designed to also serve as a functional piece of decor. Great work!