A fair bit of time has passed since EGX Rezzed but I wanted to mention a controller I saw at the show. It’s made out of a shoe tree and forms part of Robin Baumgarten’s one dimensional dungeon crawler, Line Wobbler.
Line Wobbler plays out on a 5 metre LED strip. Your job is to move the green blob to the far end of the strip without hitting either bright orange bits (lava) or red blobs (enemies). Enemies can be killed by twanging the shoe tree spring to make it vibrate. Getting to the end of the strip means you complete a level and are returned to the start of the strip for the next part of the challenge. All in all there were nine levels when I tried it. Here’s a video so you can see it in action:
The project began life as part of the Exile game jam in Denmark. “There was a big box of hardware and a friend of mine found the LED strip and was playing with that,” says Baumgarten. “I was building the controller so we said, ‘Hey, let’s work together and make something on the LED strip’.”
So that’s how Line Wobbler came into being, but the controller itself has a social media-friendly origins story. As I was playing the game reminded me of being a tiny kid and visiting my grandmother’s house. She had those springy doorstops which stop doors from hitting the wall and I found those endlessly fascinating, sometimes spending more time twanging them than playing with my official toys.
“That’s actually where I got the inspiration from. I was watching a cat video online and the cat was doing exactly what you just said. It reaches under the door and plays with the door stopper. It’s cool feedback and the sound as well. This one doesn’t quite make the same sound but it’s kind of the same feedback – the vibration – and I used it as a core game mechanic.”
In making this Definitely Relevant For RPS And Not Just A Thing Pip Wanted To Talk About I asked if the controller could be adapted for PC gaming. After all, it’s a relatively simple setup – an accelerometer wired up to the shoe tree, an Arduino and the LED strip (the latter being the most expensive part of the whole thing).
“I’ve actually done that,” says Baumgarten. “Not for a project but it’s very easy to interface the Arduino to a computer. You just plug it into a USB and it works. [The controller] is actually a normal joystick – there are two axes. So it could definitely be used for a game on a PC as well.”
As for Baumgarten’s actual Line Wobbler plans: well, there’s been some interest from arcade machine developers, but there are also some multiplayer ideas floating about – maybe several strips side-by-side so players can race, or a Nidhogg-style fight to get to the end of the strip or a Samurai Gunn-type bullet tennis match.