Maker turns a doorstop into a game with Arduino


Line Wobbler is an Arduino-powered, one-dimensional dungeon crawler game with a doorstop spring as its controller and an LED strip as its display.


While we’ve seen plenty of unique video game interfaces over the years, a door-stop may certainly be among the most bizarre. Okay, so it’s not that odd as it does resemble a joystick after all. Inspired by a video of a cat playing with a doorstop, Maker Robin Baumgarten has built a one-dimensional dungeon crawler game running on an Arduino.

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Developed as part of a 48-hour game jam, Line Wobbler is played using a unique Wobble controller made out of a doorstop spring placed on a rigid base and a bright LED strip display. All the movement is controlled by bending the makeshift gamepad left and right, while enemies are attacked by wobbling.

“We use a long strip of densely packed NeoPixels, which is both super bright and physically flexible,” Baumgarten writes. “Using selective brightness for specific particle effects, we evoke the retro-feeling of vector-displays. (Remember the bullets in asteroids? Very satisfying!)”

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“The flexibility of the strip allows us to incorporate physical space into the game by bending and looping the display around objects and walls, and modifying in-game objects according to the strips’ orientation, breaking out of the rigid linearity that a 1D display imposes,” Baumgarten adds.

In order to transform the everyday doorstop into a joystick, the Maker employed an accelerometer that provides input to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

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As for the game itself, the character is a green dot that a player must guide to the top of the LED strip. Along the way, it will encounter a few enemies, represented by red dots, that move at varying speeds. The player must battle these enemies by wobbling the spring. Should an avatar get too close and touch one, it will ‘die’ in a colorful explosion and will require the level to be restarted. According to the Maker, there are currently 10 levels which include everything from lava obstacles and a boss fight.

Admittedly, Baumgarten says the one-dimensional game is a bit challenging but interesting nevertheless. Since its inception, Line Wobbler has been exhibited in number of places, like the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC 2015, Burning Man 2015, London, Chicago and Oslo, and has even been the recipient of two AMAZE Awards in Berlin. Looking ahead, the Maker hopes to create more Wobble controllers and introduce multi-player concepts. Until then, you can check it out in the video below!

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