New Year, New Projects! – Digitized Skateboard Controller

I’m back >:)

The Task at Hand

With Week 1 of Studio 3 complete, brief has been received and I’m left to design my own controller for specific use of a game that I also design. The controller needs to be unconventional, not your typical handheld controller modified slightly but something that is weird and quirky that fits the design of the game we develop.

I ended up doing some thinking and decided that my interest in the Tony Hawk series as a kid would provide good motivation to create my own digital skateboard controller!

Researching Similar Products

Of course, I must introduce the elephant in the room for such a project, the Tony Hawk RIDE board. As much of a technical innovation as it was for 2009, it was a HUGE flop. The board was certainly innovative, having 2 accelerometers and 4 motion sensors alongside a sleek look, the board had a lot of talk about it… and it turned south real fast after release. ps3-tony-hawk-ride-skateboard-truegamers-1512-20-truegamers@6As cool as the technology was, the expected result differed majorly to what was received by players. The board became a novelty, and was a novelty without an option to use another controller, forcing the player to use the board, or nothing. It could have worked, sure, but the thing is that it technically didn’t.. The motions sensing was far too inaccurate for some game modes and getting the right tricks executed cleanly seemed impossible. This was especially the case for those too uncoordinated to physically make good use of the 4 sensors around the board by using their hands to cover them.

My lesson learned from this is to try and simplify the controls. My intention is to get a more relaxed, fun experience out of only having foot controls, no hands needed! From personal experience I know that activities such as drumming or piano is fine, I can do it, until I also have to think about what my feet are doing. When I have to think about that, I’m a complete joker. My coordination is in shambles. So, if I can use this controller when it comes to the first play-test, It will be a good indication that I was right in this theory.

– Sourced From: Kotaku.com – So how does the Tony Hawk controller work?

My First Design

Keeping in mind the failures of Tony Hawk RIDE, my design below displays a basic overview on how the controller will work. Orange lines are obviously wired connections to the arduino in the middle handling all of the controller inputs.

Digitised Skateboard
Queue impressive mspaint skills for design mock-up

As you can see, the arduino has a gyroscope attached to it to detect tilt values. This will handle actions such as turning and manuals.

The elastic bands are there for 2 reasons to both hold the board in position on the platform and 2nd to make manuals an easier task to perform in the game. This is because instead of trying to balance on the wheels you are simply trying to counter the resistance of the elastic bands on the end of the board.

The contact receiver on either end of the board are there for 3 different functions; detecting a bailout if you lean too far back or forward on a manual, for a grind-type modifier (nosegrind, tailslides, 50-50s etc) and finally to brake (by going from normal position to tail on contact pad within a short, specific time).

Coloured ABXY buttons are button used to map further trick modifiers, jumping and menu functionality. I’m hoping that having these buttons on the edge of the board for foot interaction is the design change the RIDE needed in order to be more playable. I’m currently worried about its positioning on the platform as people have different stances when using a skateboard (Regular and Goofy), this is something I will definitely monitor during play-testing and make changes to the design of the layout where needed.

The USB connector is simply an extension from the arduino board for ease of access to input the controller into a PC to play the game and power the board.

Hopefully this covers my design intent for the skateboard whilst also analyzing and critiquing an already established, similar product. I’m actually a little excited to make this project if it’s chosen as one of the few my class will develop, I think there’s a lot potential and we can do with this not only limiting it to skateboarding games but any board-sport game!

Till next time!

 

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