Balance Board Racing is a project that I pitched for CMU’s Game Creation Society in Fall 2015. There were quite a few bumps throughout the project, and some of them were pretty frustrating.
Initially, I wanted to create an immersive virtual reality experience by using a Wii Balance board as a controller instead of a regular game controller. As the project started, I soon discovered that the Wii Balance Board is difficult to integrate into Unity. There are programs that exist that can turn the balance board into a joystick, but in order to get the balance board working on multiple operating systems, different programs must be used.
In addition, I learned that the Wii Balance Board is nice for detecting pressure changes, but it’s not as good as detecting tilts in your body. Because of this, I decided to use a sensor that is made for detecting tilts: the accelerometer found in cellphones. Switching to cellphones as controllers had two benefits. First, almost everyone has a cellphone, so people would no longer need to buy a balance board to play the game. Second, there is a really good open source library for getting cellphone data to Unity: UnityOSC. By using some sticky putty to attach my phone to a CanDo 10-1745 Economy Balance Board, I created a pretty economical controller for the game.
The problems didn’t end there though. At the beginning, I didn’t realize that virtual reality involved motion sickness. Even worse, the usual motion sickness is exacerbated by the fact that this racing game involves fast motion and quick turns. Combine that with balancing on a board, and you get a pretty dangerous situation! In the end, I decided to drop virtual reality from this game.
Despite all the setbacks, I still learned a lot from attempting (and failing) to use different peripherals. As the first project that I have ever led, I’m quite proud of where it ended up. Unfortunately, because a large amount of time went into the peripherals, there wasn’t enough time to implement and polish all the features that are in the game. Thus, a playable build of this game is not available.
However, the entire Unity project can be found on GitHub. I will no longer be working on this project in the future, but it is an example of incorporating cellphone sensors into Unity games that might help some future developers.
Team Members and Other Thanks:
I’d like to thank the following people who have helped me work on the project.
- Mark Mendell
- Barry Li
- Cyrus Ramavarapu
- Benjamin Thomas
- Justice Frimpong
- Pratikeo Prakash
- Aayush Bhasin
- Elliot Yokum
- John Choi