Oct 12

Trinus Gyre, virtual reality PC gaming in your pocket

WHAT IS TRINUS GYRE?

Trinus Gyre transforms your Android device into a affordable Oculus Rift, please read this page for instructions on how to set it up. You can find download details here.

VR technology is pretty cool, and it seems that it is finally becoming mainstream thanks to headsets like the Oculus Rift. But it is still a bit pricey.

Our Android phones (and tablets) are so powerful these days. They already have large hd screens and orientation sensors, so why not make use of those features to create a VR experience, especially now that we have cheap headsets like the Google Cardboard (or even better options like the Durovis Dive, ColorCross, etc.)?

Trinus Gyre integrates all the software required for an enjoyable VR experience. As a low cost VR solution accessible to any Android user, it is compatible with most Windows games with mouse look (e.g. most first person shooters). Additionally, thanks to the use of wifi connection, it allows for a completely wireless experience (so you can rotate 360 degrees… or more!). Here’s a sample of gameplay with a few different games:

Aug 03

Current project: Trinus Gyre, transforming your Android into an Oculus Rift

I’ve recently been working in a project that got me quite excited, and I think it is time to share a bit 🙂
I’ve been fooling around with the idea for quite a long time now, and on and off was trying to find the right mixture of software and hardware from different sources.
The idea, yes, well, basically: I wanted a setup for playing VR games, something like Oculus Rift or the likes but on the cheap/DIY.
The thing is, it is not hard to realize that most of the hardware for such a head mounted display is already available on a modern smartphone. The main issue is putting the software together to get it working. A bit more than a year ago I got an OpenDive, a headset carcass for your phone. I played a bit with it, tried different tech demos for it, combined with video streaming apps like Kainy but that’s about it… I didn’t get anything really worth using so I dropped the project.
Until recently. After I heard about the Google Cardboard project I thought a bit more about it, searched again for cool options but couldn’t find a proper solution, that is, a mixture that would let me play PC games immersing through a head tracking, 3D display headset. Again, nothing properly working… you would thing somebody would have made something about it (maybe they have and I didn’t google hard enough). Point in case, I decided to go ahead and build the software to be able to use my phone as a 3D display and head tracking device that I could mount on the OpenDive.
And I have something quite promising at this point, I mean the game choices are a bit limited (some have head tracking support, some have 3D view support, and a few have both), and there is room for improvement to make it more compatible and reliable, but here you can see what I have managed so far:

If you would be interested in trying yourself, head to this page for instructions and download links, hopefully you can bring me some feedback and maybe find other games that can work with it.
Here’s the list of requirements to get up and running:
– My video server and Android app
– Opentrack (it might work with FacetrackNoIR too, but I stopped using it because of the mapping limitations for the yaw/pitch/roll angles)
– Some 3D game with Freetrack support (FlightGear and Simconnect should do too). Arma 2, Condor gliding simulator and Rise of Flight worked for me. Also used Grid and Dear Esther for testing (no head tracking support though)
– Of course, you will need a headset holder for your phone. You can make your own, buy a Google Cardboard (plenty of places online) or a Durovis Dive
– Optionally, you can use TriDef (doesn’t work very well atm, because of the fullscreen requirement) or Vireio perception (I liked that one, it is a work in progress but it is free) for stereoscopic view

On the hardware side, you need a PC, an Android device and a network connecting them both.

Mar 24

Going full retro (the event)

It feels like it was just about 20 years ago, that I was a kid enjoying videogames… but it was actually just this past weekend when I was playing some good old classics from Atari, Sega and Nintendo… like such a kid, but having to pay bills.

I have been accumulating a modest collection of video consoles in recent times… I guess it is the equivalent of getting a chopper at your 40s, just that I am still ‘only’ 35 (I have to start thinking on choosing a bike though, that’s going to be hard, since I do not really like them). Not that I get a lot of time to play, but I do enjoy the research, the memories and the ‘quick’ game now and then.

I cannot really pinpoint what it is exactly about going back to those pixellated days… I know I am not the only one, but why do we do that? is it just because it reminds us of better (or plain easy) days? because it makes us feel younger, doing the same interactions with some character on the screen as we would decades ago? is it the new perspective it brings, as an adult, into the video gaming industry and history, now that it has become a mainstream form of media instead of something for nerdy kids? maybe it’s just a desire for collection?

possibly a bit of all of the above… but this post is not to discuss reasons, this post is not a cure or a path to epiphany… this post is just to announce another dose, for those in need: as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival, I am organizing a retro gaming event for people that want to revive the good old days, when music wasn’t so loud and things were made to last. Starting at noon this 5th of April, at the Telegraph At the Earl of Derby (that’s a pub, here) we will have a blast from the past playing old school games, competing with each other and arguing why Nintendo was better than Sega (or viceversa). Modern day kids welcome!

Jan 20

Speccy in a frame

Skip the reading and go here (or there) if you just want to get your hands on a framed Speccy as soon as possible! 🙂

Some time ago I bought a ZX Spectrum as part of a garage sale lot (from ebay, actually). It wasn’t working so I decided to disassemble and re-arrange its parts, frame it and hang it on a wall. It looked so good that I thought it would be nice to share it with others… at a price because, of course, the raw materials are not cheap, especially the computer itself. Even faulty units are costly.

Before dissecting them, I make sure they don’t work (no functional Spectrum was harmed in the production of the frames). If they only have some minor issue I try and fix them. Either way, it makes me happy to give this beloved piece of history a second life, a place to shine.

This is a way for the grown up kids to remember it, and for the next generations of kids to learn about its existence (even if they are like “duh, that’s just old crap” – well excuse me smartass, but if it wasn’t for this now you wouldn’t have… er… iPants, GameStations or whatever is cool these days!).

In any case, I do hope these framed piece of history inspires nice discussions about the good old days, when things were made to last and music wasn’t so loud.

At some point I decided to expand and try framing oldschool gamepads, to see if they looked good. They do!

framedControllers.jpg

If you would like one, please visit my shop at Etsy and Folksy. Or, you know, contact me… I’m right here 🙂

Mar 14

bye bye itunes…

not many updates to the blog (not that anyone would care ;P ), but I am just too busy and engaged with other projects (well, with an Android game being one of them, to be released one of these years).

sadly, I am posting now just to state that my ios developer subscription is about to die… and I am not going to renew it. not too interested, and not worth the price, really…

this means MadRobots will disappear from the shop… the good news is it is now free!

after MadRobots, I had a small game finished and ready to publish last year (a nice simple idea of a game that leveraged visuals and audio feedback to allow fair competition between limited sight/blind players and the rest). I just didn’t get the chance to do the final steps for publishing… and now it will remain unknown… oh well…

TL; DR: busy, out of itunes, free game, new games coming some day (in the far future)

Jun 03

Me too…

recently I upgraded my phone to Android ICS, and it was all good and fun until, during a social event, I realized one of my old projects, MeToo, wouldn’t work anymore. That I didn’t like.

MeToo is a simple photo taking app for Android that uses both the front and back camera to take two pictures and merge them. The aim of the app is to be included in the picture that you take: have you noticed that you usually don’t show up in your photos? that’s because you are on the wrong side of the camera (you’ve been wondering about that, haven’t you?). With this app you can take a crowd picture of your family and friends (or colleagues, or bare acquaintances) and be included in it!

So, with a long weekend ahead, I decided to take a detour from current Odd sheep projects and fix the old code. It should now play nice on any Android device with Gingerbread (2.3) or later… as long as it has two cameras. So go get it now while stocks last!

May 27

about the sheep…

so, how it all started, you ask? oh, you didn’t ask, well, ok, I’ll tell you anyway…

it was a cold winter night. In the street, the shadows under the orange sodium lights were pale and shaky, as if the freeze had swallowed them from the inside…

… actually, that seems like a nice story, but not quite the story… I started making video games shortly after I begun playing them, as a kid, with a ZX Spectrum, one of the first affordable personal computers with a staggering 48kb of ram and 3.25 Ghz Mhz. I won’t go grandpa style telling you old memories, but the thing is that, since those early days of computing (and of myself) I’ve enjoyed coding and, more specifically, game development.

while professionally I have taken a more ‘serious’ business IT route, I’ve tried to dedicate some spare time for game development now and then, specially with the advent of mobile platforms because… well, let’s say just because… or because I like gadgets, portable ones, and casual gaming…

it wasn’t until I first got a cheap Android tablet in 2010 and found out it was Java oriented (my main coding language) that I got more into it. That’s when Happy sheep was born, kind of something resembling the idea of a games company but as a personal workshop, a name behind which I would develop concepts that crossed my mind, always looking for some innovative twist or feature.

Fast forward to 2012 and… well, only the name has changed (to Odd Sheep, you see, that’s this site) but I keep the same spirit: my desire to create fun for others and have fun while doing it.

and why the sheep naming, you ask? oh, you didn’t ask…

May 14

previously, on OddSheep…

so recently I released my first game for iPhone (well, the first on my own), Mad Robots…

very simple idea born from some Shinobi bonus level memories. It has been an on an off project I worked on during chunks of spare time I had (the code is rather messy, I can tell you that). Had a very talented artist to do all the artwork and (me, a less talented) coder.

It doesn’t have much production value, short on features and replayability (although, good for a short burst of action)… mmm… how’s that for some marketing stunt… anyway, it is a small first step towards having a nice collection of Odd Sheep creations (and I wanted to release a first step!).

more details about Mat Robots here… or in iTunes