VR Block Buster – 72 Hour Game Development

Fairly recently I found out about Ludum Dare, the 48-76 hour game making challenge. Since I had just begun learning the basics of Unity, I decided I wanted to join the thousands of others who compete to get positive votes on their games.

For the December competition, the theme was “one room,” but during the theme voting phase, one of the potential themes was “you are the projectile.” This stuck with me, and I thought it would be cool to make a VR game where you are the projectile. So I made the game, and put it in a single room scene.

I’m pretty proud of what I was able to accomplish in a long weekend. Out of 2390 games submitted, mine ranked #340 for the “fun” category, which puts it in the top 80% of all games in the competition. I’ve also had friends play the game, and the feedback has been pretty positive. 

The premise is simple: you are in a room with lava on the floor and several blocks set up on a table. In VR, you use your head to aim a cannonball, and then press the button to launch your ball to knock as many blocks as possible into the lava. Here are some gameplay gifs:

A gameplay video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eR9A1jOVuY

You can play the game on android with a VR headset or in the browser on PC here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-37/?action=preview&uid=125143

The source code is available on my GitHub: https://github.com/jerwil/VRBlockBuster

3D Printed iPhone Telescope Mount

I recently got a telescope, and I got a DSLR mount for it to take photos of astronomical objects. Ironically, after using both my DSLR camera and my phone’s camera to take pictures through the eyepiece, I found that I got better photos with the phone!

It was tough to keep it lined up with the eyepiece, especially while tracking objects in the sky, so I sought to create an adapter to hold my phone in place. I found a basic case design online and added to it. This is what I came up with in Onshape:

The case is intended to keep the phone’s camera centered on the eyepiece. Since eyepieces have a standard outer diameter, this should work for most of them. It’s also easy to slide the phone in/out of the case since I removed the bottom half from the design.

The design file can be found on the Onshape page here

I went to the local makerspace in the downtown library, and here is what the resulting 3D printed product looks like:

The printer I used did not use support material, so I split the design and glued the two pieces together, using the camera hole’s outline as an alignment guide.

The case design is pretty thin, so it ended up cracking on the left side. Thankfully, the phone still stays firmly in the case even with the crack.

Here are some photos I took with it:

Here is what the building looks like without the telescope (but with maximum digital zoom on my phone):

When the sky clears up, I’m looking forward to trying it with the night sky.

Wedding RSVP Website

I had recently completed a web development bootcamp online, so I wanted to create a web application that was guaranteed to get some use in order to test my skills. With my wedding coming up, I decided to create a website for guests to RSVP online, saving postage costs and giving me a project to work on.

The back-end code was written in Node.js, with the front-end using bootstrap for quick and easy styling. The server-side code interacted with a MySQL database using the npm mysql package.

Invitees were given a randomly-generated 5-digit alphanumeric code to be used as a password for accessing their RSVP page.

If the information entered was valid, the invitee will be taken to a page showing their name and their plus-one’s name (if applicable). The database contained a field indicating whether a plus-one was allowed for each guest, and this form field would not be rendered if a plus-one was not given to the invitee.

As admin, I could login to see all the RSVPs, sorted by RSVP date. To keep things simple, boolean responses were reported as 1 or 0, which also made it easy to paste the table into excel for further processing.

Overall, the website was a success and received over 75 RSVPs successfully. It was a cool experience to create and manage a web application that saw real practical use.

Pikachu Light-up Costume

For Halloween of 2016, I wanted to create my own costume, something that would stand out. My wife and her friends all got animal onesies to wear for a night on the town, so I figured I’d join them, but with my own twist.

I bought a Pikachu onesie and picked up a couple of neopixel rings. I wired up the rings to an Arduino nano board and programmed a series of light patterns that the nano would loop through.

My wife then helped me sew the rings onto the costume, and Pika Cheeks was born!

I powered the setup using a USB battery pack that I kept in my pocket. The costume was a success, and lots of folks out on the street told me they liked it!