levelHead In Action

We talked about Julian Oliver’s extraordinary levelHead – an augmented reality game which is played on physical blocks via a screen – way back here. More recently he’s released a video of the first few “levels” in action, as you can see after the jump.

levelHead v1.0, 3 cube speed-run (spoiler!) from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.



  1. Kim says:

    Holy japanese koi fish, batman! That’s great O__O

  2. Saul says:

    This is cool, and I hope they take the principles further. It is probably fun to play, but it is much less interesting to watch the second time around. If there was something else going on at the same time (other kinds of puzzles, maybe), THAT would be a game.

  3. Gladman says:

    I thought the open source was getting released on thte 30th, it’s now the 31st! GIVE!

  4. Tom says:

    Well that’s funky!
    Would be cooler if you didn’t need the projector. Little LCD covered blocks would be freakin awesome.
    Could take the Sims in a whole new direction.

  5. fudspong says:

    Holy Moley. This might encourage people to think in ways they never had before. Wonder what it would be like with a VR headset.

  6. Al3xand3r says:

    Is it using something like Johnny Chung Lee’s techie stuff?
    link to cs.cmu.edu
    link to procrastineering.blogspot.com

  7. Bobsy says:

    Gosh, the tech looks awesome…


    … dear christ that game looks dull.

  8. MetalCircus says:

    Technically impressive. Gameplay looks about as fun as having a dog fart all over your dinner.

    Having said that, I’d buy it if they made the little man go a bit faster, though.

  9. Keith says:

    @ Al3x

    I think it’s reading the bitmap pattern on the sides of the cube to get an ID of which cube/face (like a 2d barcode), but also using it to determine the position/angle of the cube. That data is then fed to the display routine which distorts the overlay window to show the cube contents, and to the “game engine” part to determine what the manshadow does.

    It’s like the object tracking options in video effects packages like After Effects or Motion.

  10. Cyranix says:

    The idea is quite appealing. However, if anything like this takes off in the market, you better hope that someone figures out how to re-use the hardware across games — otherwise, these cubes will become the next “plastic guitars” that everyone complains about, taking up space because there are too many.

  11. CitizenKaned says:

    Good but like all games improving it is simply a matter of finding the right license. I vote for a Labyrinth tie in. You could control David Bowie as Jareth the (Welsh?) Goblin king doing that crazy Escher-esque stairs bit from the movie with one hand. While you spin augmented reality crystal balls in your other hand. New tech, film license and game. That’s got to be a triple A smash. Wibble.

  12. Pirate0r says:

    I’ve (sadistically) decided that if the little man was subject to physics the game would be much more fun. For some reason i have this desire to roll the cube upside down and watch the character tumble and scramble for his little digital life.

    A bonus would be if the cube was covered in LCDs. Then you have yourself a fully fledged virtual pet game where you could carry the little guy to work and subject his home to earthquakes when he forgets where the toilet is.

  13. james b says:

    correct me if i am wrong – but is it not just a matter of getting a block with the correct print out stuck to it…so its all ‘home made’–no new hardware needed as ling as you have access to a pc a printer and a webcam?

  14. AbyssUK says:

    This would be great, now give that guy a portal gun and imagine the fun you could have.

  15. Hopper says:

    They’re using ARTag to make this game. link to artag.net
    Dabbled with it a little bit for a project in college. Used it with XNA and SharperCV.
    It’s pretty poor if the tag is too far from the camera but the speed at which it notices a tag is incredible. It can also detect partially covered tags.

    @james b: yup, you can just print out all your own tags.

  16. GeorgeR says:

    That’s just trippy and cool on so many levels, totally awesome.

  17. Ragnar says:


    Look here: link to selectparks.net

    (And go to the heading that says “Getting levelHead”)

  18. Bartleby says:

    Dear ladies, and gentlemen,

    why is it that, when a game tries to push the boundaries of what can be done with videogames, there’s always someone talking about “market”, “licenses”, and what not?
    why is it we can admire what can actually be done, no market involved?
    btw, the source _was_ released July 30th. Check selectparks.

  19. ape says:

    Very nice, but the novelty does wear off after the first view. Also I could do without the “I wish I was Autechre” type music. (Although I do wish I was part of Autechre… like 12 years ago you know, when they actually made good music.)

    I’m also wondering what this game needs as hardware. Blocks, projectors, webcam? Anyone know?

  20. Urre says:

    I’m amazed so few seem to have looked up on the tech and the related info. All you need is a cardboard box with symbols printed on it, and a webcam. That’s the whole novelty. That’s what can keep the size down, whereas an LCD covered cube would be at a bare minimum 5 times larger due to wiring and whatnot, much heavier, extremly expensive (cardboard box costs…?) and it wouldn’t provide the coolest part, which is seeing around the corners as you move the cube around. On LCD’s the game would be entirely flat, whereas using this it looks as if the game is inside the cube. It’s so elegant… And it’s obviously not limited to cubes, as anyone who’s looked up Augmented Reality will soon discover.

  21. Down Rodeo says:

    Still looks amazing :)

    It is a genius idea and is implemented rather well.

  22. No Projector says:

    No projector, its being composited. So whomever wished there were no projector wins!

  23. h4plo says:

    I want to see this done on the sides of buildings.

  24. luminosity says:

    Reminds me a little of House of Leaves. Now that could be a cool game. Guide the guy out of the cube which is actively changing its structure to keep him trapped.

  25. Chiablo says:

    Combine this concept with WASD controls and ‘N’ the way of the ninja’s gameplay.

  26. moonracer says:

    Eye of Judgment for PS3 uses the same tech. Imagine the same concept superimposing digital imagery over reality through goggles (or contact lenses). I could have a special pattern printed on my bed sheets so it looked like they were constantly in flames (well, as long as I looked directly at them).