• Super Ultra Deadrising 3 Display

    Over the past 6 months I’ve been working on an Expansion pack “Super Ultra Deadrising 3’ Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alphaand as part of the project I helped build with Jason Buchwitz an in-house display for the project. Here’s a little sample of what the sign was able to do, starting with just an idle animation every minute or so it enters into an attract mode where the sign lives up the name of the game… Massively over the top and completely awesome! Check out the video below and afterwards you can have a read of how the display was put together.



    The Sign is built mainly of foam core with graphics printed and glued to its surface, to illuminate the sign I used some 36mm Square 12V Digital RGB LED Pixels.


    These lights are individually addressable (4 Per Square) and can produce the full RGB gamut. I chained a couple of these strings together and fed them around the display, starting around the logo and then behind the flames. The lights are controlled via a controller Chip (WS2801) and take data via SPI or Serial Peripheral Interface. This data feed is sent from an Arduino  Due.



    This 84 MHz ARM Microcontroller looks after the sequencing of the display and can also control audio playback. The whole display is powered off  2x 12V power supplies for the Lights and a 5V power adapter for the Arduino. I’ll be going into a little more detail about the code and wire setup in future posts… Stay Tuned!


  • Netduino Powered Pumpkin

    Seeing as it’s getting closer to that time of the year when people walk around at night wearing ghastly clothing, no it’s not Talk like a Pirate Day; Halloween. As part of the festivities at work we have a yearly Best Costume and Pumpkin Carving competition. So I thought I would share with you our team’s 2nd place winning Pumpkin family.

    The Pumpkin Family

    Yes the pumpkin was suped up a little from the traditional pumpkin; the competition rules allowed for props to be used I decided to take it to the limit. In a last minute rush the night before the carving, I wired, programmed and sequenced the hardware.

    The setup consisted of a Netduino (Micro-controller that is programmed in c#) for the brains, 4 LEDs (light emitting diode) for the eyes, 2 servos (motors that allow you to set the rotation of an arm between 0-180 degrees) for the eyes and eyebrows and a little speaker to play the theme tune.

    Once all the hardware was built, I created a very simple program to play the theme tune and sequence the movement of the servos and toggle the lighting of the LEDs. The first thing I wrote was the tone generator; to play a note I passed in the note (F#) and using a lookup table I had the note’s frequency, with this I set the speaker output pin to oscillate that frequency. Next I created an array of notes and duration’s, these were the base of the sequencer. Now having the music playing (Thanks goes to my wife who converted the sheet music to note and duration for me) I created the servo and LED tracks and set their timing.

    Netduino & wiring

    The only thing left to do was create an event handler that would fire off the sequence when I pressed a button on the NetDuino. The quality of the music was quite gritty, this was due to not having any smoothing electronics in place, but I kinda liked the classic sounding theme, so I left it.

    The eyes in the following image were bought at a dollar store and mounted on some wire as pivots then the servo and controller arms were mounted to some cardboard for easy installation.

    Inside the pumpkin

    So I hope this quick rundown of how I created the Pumpkin Family electronics has inspired you to go and make your pumpkin a little more high-tech.

    Happy Hacking!

  • Physical Technical Art

    Over the next couple of posts I’m going to be writing mainly on the topic of the emerging field of Physical Technical Art. So… what does that mean you say? Game Development in most parts is a software exercise; once concept art and motion capture has been digitized the remainder of production is mainly dedicated to DCC’s, Assets Pipelines and Code. Development can be fraught with unforeseen hurdles and challenges, some of these problems require a team to think outside the software box and this is where Physical Technical Art implements a solutions. In addition to solving hardware problems Physical Technical Art also aims to improve the human-computer interface (NUI), human to human interface and game interaction methods through the use of technology.

    A great example of a hardware solution is the XBox 360 Controller Monitor. This custom hardware enables the capture of the controller’s inputs (buttons and joysticks) and then displays the values on a small board. This board is then framed with the vision from the game and filmed, giving the reviewer a clear connection between the input and the time taken for it to be displayed on screen.

    The following video is a Tear Down of this hardware, a brief overview of the electronics used and how it captures and displays its data:

    Xbox 360 Controller Monitor (Tear Down)

    Latency is an important concern when developing a game, it changes how the game is played and if it’s too high the user may get frustrated ruining the experience. The Xbox 360 Controller monitor is a practical and simple solution to this important focus. Yes, input latency can be calculated within the devkit; but having a hardware solution ensures no overheads and enables testing for unprofileable games.

    Ben Heck’s Controller Monitor Intro Video

    Ben Heck’s Website

    Uno32 (Ardunio) Code: Macro_Controller.Zip

    Fair Child 8Bit Shift Register DataSheet

    If you use something like this or any other physical solutions in your studios, I would love to hear about it. You can contact me via the contacts tab or just leave a comment.