Mini Makers Faire demo table, with instruction manual visible.

Bizarro Fox: asteroids, sensors, and silliness

At the Mini Makers Faire.In October 2011 I participated in the Bizarro Game Controllers workshop, hosted by Concordia University, because I was interested in learning more about alternative input schemes, electronics, and ARG-style gaming possibilities. I came away with a basic understanding of Arduino technology, a ton of crazy ideas, some new friends, and Bizarro Fox.

This is a game made in direct collaboration with Joachim Despland, that takes advantage of a pair of theremin-like distance sensors, oriented directly upwards, to fly a StarFox-like spaceship through a field of asteroids.

The ship is controlled by the vertical position of both hands when held above the sensors. Raise your right hand and lower your left, and the ship banks left. If both hands rise, the ships pitches upward. This creates a wonderful sense of banking, dodging and weaving because the movement natural comes from your shoulders, and the whole body shifts back and forth as you try to avoid the spinning rocks.

Gameplay is simple stay-alive-collect-points, with a point multiplier applied based on narrowly avoiding rocks. This encourages daredevil flying and risk-taking, increasing the fun-factor.

The game was shown at the Mont Royal Game Society and the Montreal Mini Makers Faire, where it was a big hit!

It was implemented in Unity over the course of a single weekend.

Joachim demonstrates his ace flying skills!