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Carrots are good for you - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
January 16th, 2009
11:40 am

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Carrots are good for you


Recently, I accidentally watched the US remake of the "Hole in the Wall" gameshow and began toying with the idea of a computer game that would capture some of the gameplay.

The basic idea of the show is that there's a huge wall that comes flying towards the players, and they have to contort their bodies to fit into the silhouette hole in the wall. The craziness comes from the looney shaped holes in the wall and watching the players trying to balance holding these contrived positions. It's like yoga, but where you can get knocked into a swimming pool if you fail.

The train of thought was something like:


  • oh, you could manipulate little rag dolls
  • bah, that's not so much fun
  • simplify the shapes to 3d tetris pieces
  • but not just a bunch of blocks - blocks might be too easy
  • but visualizing general 3d polyhedra would be tricky
  • there'd have to be some fancy camera work so you could see the hole and the piece without too much obstruction
  • bah, not fun.
  • some workers suggested using PS2 EyeToy-like technology
  • maybe take a reference frame of a background, and then digitally subtract it from the live feed - greenscreening without the bother


I did all that, and I was able to get some pretty spooky ghost images which might be worth screwing around with in some future project.

I then proceeded to get rid of the static reference frame and replace it with an average of frames over the last second. This gets you much more of the "velociraptor eye" behavior that you might want for a motion detector - sit still and the image goes black (modulo some fidgeting and some noisy sparkles), move and you light up. Except that I'm doing this in grayscale and the palm of my hand is about the same level of gray as the wall that's behind my hand. I think there might be something to be accomplished by trying to grab the edge pixels and using that, but I haven't tried it.

I did put all this technology together into a "game" - a carrot appears at the top of the screen, and you try to grab it before it goes away. Ok, it's whack-a-mole, but with a dirty vegetable as the target. Moles aren't very cute, as mammals go, but carrots are even less sympathetic when it comes to pummeling. I was considering whack-a-dolphin for a short while.

I could go on to try to turn this technology into a "human tetris" game, but my enthusiasm for it is already beginning to wane.

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