Rocks, Lasers, Profit! NASA Space Apps Challenge 2014

awardSuper happy, over an exhausting 30 hours straight we (4) came out victorious winning first place in the Waterloo Regional NASA Space Apps Challenge, for our educational game, Rocks, Lasers, Profit!

We’re now moving on to the finals against even tougher competition. You can check out the current build on Github, but it needs a lot of bug fixing and feature enhancements before it’s ready for prime time.

**UPDATE 2**

awardNationally we were finalists (top 5) for two categories, Best Use of Data and Asteroid Prospector (of which there 22 games submitted around the world for this category). We won first place for Asteroid Prospector and were beat out by a team in Toronto, Ontario (we’re in Waterloo, Ontario) for Best Use of Data. As our prize we were invited to watch the inaugural test launch of the Orion deep space craft!

Although it would have been really cool to win 2 of the 8 categories, I’m happy that we lost to a fellow Canadian team and that Canada took home two of the prizes as the vast majority of the competition were based out of the United States. I’m also happy that we were able to win it for Waterloo because this is the first time Waterloo was in the competition. Lastly I think it’s pretty cool that a video game was a finalist in the first place for Best Use of Data.

You can see youtube videos of all of the submissions in the Asteroid Prospector category here,

You can find out more, download or play the game right in your browser at,


You can see more of the 2014 NASA Space Apps Challenge at these links.

Bricktastic Official Release

awardUpdate: I ended up winning first place in the games category for this contest, which is especially awesome because this is the first game that I’ve officially published. Thrilled.

Here’s the official release of Bricktastic for a game competition. It’s a full start to finish game with more features to come and more work to do.

You can download it directly here or find it in BlackBerry App World or Google Play soon.

I appreciate feedback and bug reports. I’m currently chasing a real nasty bug where the ball/paddle colliders get stuck in a “death loop”, it occurs rarely and I can’t seem to identify why it’s happening in the code. Very hard to reproduce.

Brick tastic is now public as of v0.9.4.

Download: Windows Linux Mac Android BlackBerry iOS OculusRift

This the status of my work log: (deprecated)

Bricktastic – Beta 2

Thanks for all the feedback so far. A lot of it was a great help. I have a new version up, and I didn’t address all of your concerns in time, but it’s in the works.

I’ve added a title screen seen in this video. It’s changed since, but I’m pretty happy with how good it looks for how little I had to do. I mean, I spent 6 hours tweaking it, but it’s basically looked the way it did from the start.


Windows Mac Linux BlackBerry Android – OculusRift

Issues Fixed/New Features:

-Added main menu(most functions dont do anything)
-Changed ball color to be more easily visible
-Disabled rotation on the ball
-Changed lighting for paddle
-Added sparks to the ball for better visual queue
-Added onscreen debugging/console
-New brick animations
-New brick model with smoother edges.
-Increased FOV
-Added logic to prevent the ball from endlessly bouncing at boring angles. 10 bounces at less than a 10 degree change invokes a nudge.

Known Issues:
-Highscore and Help menus drift because I’m animating them poorly
-OSD is fake
-Colliders of wall drift over time. I know why I just have to rewrite the part. So as you progress in the game, the greater chance you’ll lose your ball off the playing field.
-Completely broke lighting effects in levels. Bricks and ball should reflect colors on walls
-Bad Bounces between levels sometimes

To impliment:

-Persistent sound options
-Graceful New/Continue game animation and death animation
-Bonus level to gain lives
-More levels
-Power ups, time permitting for contest.


“Disco con Tutti” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Millennium Fountain Bricks – Photo by Annette Gendler,

vrTrek for Oculus Rift

Click for a review by Cymatic Bruce!

4th Update:

3rd Update:

I’ve added functionality to the control panel.

The idea is you use a gamepad to pilot, and you you glancing at buttons on the control panel followed by a button press to execute functions. I think this is pretty cool because in star trek, they do everything by touch panel. So being able to fly around, and just look down to do other things while you navigate kind of plays pretty well.

2nd update:

This game is very much not finished and very much not a game. I’ve added a skybox since this vid.

All 3D models are courtesy of

1st Update:

So I got this running on the Rift. And of course it plays so much better. Feels good. I recommend a proper game pad.

This isn’t really a game and it’s very premature. Just putting it out there. I hope to make some sort of small, basic game where you run quests within our inner solar system. Scan planets, deliver cargo, assist in repairs.

Download for Windows:

vrTrek – StarTrek Fan Demo for Oculus Rift and Durovis Dive

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Once again I’m just dabbling and learning Unity more and more. There’s very few games for the Durovis Dive so when mine arrived I ported some existing projects I had been working on and started creating this one. I wanted to learn how to do a space game. And how better to theme it while I’m learning.

This game works with the Dive, Rift, and regular 2D on PC and smart phones. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, just did this over the weekend. I’d like to make a game where you shuttle around our solar system and basically run errands or small quests. Go pick up so and so here. Go deliver cargo here. Go do a survey of blah blah blah. Assist in repairs of blank.

Download: Android BlackBerry iOS Windows Phone

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The Durovis Dive VR HMD Has Arrived

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The VR Trifecta

The Durovis Dive is a low cost Head Mounted Display accessory for smartphones. It’s a cheap alternative to an Oculus Rift given that it’s just the lenses and housing. The screen, sensors and processing power is in a smart phone that you already own. It started as Open Dive, which is a 3d printable HMD, driving the cost down further. All you have to do is source the lenses and headband.

The Pro’s are its cost, no wires, and being a phone, has wifi, sensors, a camera, speakers and a microphone. I like this because it means I can experiment with different things much faster than hacking this together for a rift.

The Con’s are smart phones can’t do as much graphically compared to a good gaming rig. The FOV isn’t as good. The lenses aren’t as good. The sensors aren’t as good.  The SDK isn’t as good.  For the cost, I think it’s a good item to pick up if you want to dabble in VR but don’t want to drop the cash on a high end PC and an Oculus.

The head tracking and performance of the dive isn’t nearly as good as the rift. I thought the laggy head tracking would be a deal breaker, but it’s actually not that bad. Especially if you’re developing simple graphics.

In this video I show a demo I originally wrote for the Dive and I do a mini review of the Dive

All games developed for the Dive in Unity are easily ported to the Rift by replacing the player object.  The SDK currently supports Android and iOS. I’ve developed a few demos for my BlackBerry. Comparing hardware and given the excellent cross platform support in Unity, there is zero reason why a game you develop for VR wouldn’t work for the Dive on Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Oculus on PC, MAC and Linux.

Shown in the gallery below, the Durovis has real problems allowing not just light but plain sight of real world objects through the holes in this device. Also the divider between your eyes is far too shallow, you can see the opposite screen with each eye. I used some black construction paper and some tape to build a divider that slides over top of the existing one. To cover the holes in the sides and bottom I think I’ll place some strips of black fabric on the inside.