Multiplayer LAN Games During A Global Pandemic

Multiplayer LAN Games During A Global Pandemic

Caden Sato, Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning

Introduction & Background

My science fair project idea came to me when I was playing Ur-Quan Masters, a computer game I enjoy. The two-player version requires both players to use the same keyboard. I could not play this game with my friends because we have to social distance and avoid contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Purpose

The purpose of this project is to create a touchless device which can be used by two people while maintaining social distancing.

Design Criteria

The criteria for my innovation was to create a device which could be used by two players to play a computer game while remaining socially distant. Players would be able to use simple hand motions for turning and special abilities, voice to control the thrust and a laser to shoot.

Procedure

The first step in this project was to connect a microphone, laser and distance detector to an Arduino Leonardo. I wrote the main loop code as a state machine using the millis function to ensure each sensor could be polled in real time. Millis polls a sensor within the main loop of the Arduino execution, better defines the sensor finding a value and ensures it does not repeat as an input. I tested the device to ensure the laser allows the player to shoot, the distance detector allows a player to turn left at 1-20cm, turn right at 21-40cm and use the ship’s special ability from 41-60cm. I ensured the sound activation for the microphone worked to activate the ship’s thrust, soldered the sensors to separate prototype boards and used header pins to add the USB wires. I created enclosures and wrapped them with printed images from the game.

Results

Two people can play the Ur-Quan Masters computer game with nearly no delay (less than 1/10th of a second) by using various touchless sensors while maintaining social distancing. Future minor code modifications could make this work with other simple games or computer applications because it allows the use of 12 keys. In addition, people with less fingers than five can still use this because it does not require you to use multiple fingers on a keyboard.

Discussion

My innovation works; however, it has limitations in that the solder may come loose from the prototype boards and occasionally the lasers sometimes become displaced.

Conclusions & Recommendations

This innovation works well and is fun to use. I was going to use an IR sensor, but it requires you to touch the remote. I was also going to use a piezo, but it was too inconsistent. I could improve the project further by permanently affixing the sensors, creating a schematic in order to print the circuit boards professionally or exploring other applications.

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge my mother and father for helping me with my project, and my teacher, Mr. Kowalyshyn for providing support and getting me started while I built the innovation.

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