Posts

Telephonic Rabbit Holes

Image
I was invited to chair a panel, as well as talk at an event in Bristol last week. The event in question was DSET , a three day series of talks by military and other armed forces from around the world on the topic of simulation and research development. I was there as someone from outside the military world, talking about one of my projects and making the point that in most cases you don't have to reinvent when it comes to technology, most of the time you can reuse. The video below is a quick summary of my Telephonic Rabbit Holes talk. I spoke about hacking payphones and creating the telephone network  that I've been working on over the past year and a bit. The part I found most enjoyable was once I had explained about the set up, I went on to explore the alternative uses to calling large groups of public payphone numbers. Uses ranging from helping to raise awareness of mental health causes, to adopting it as an early warning/information service, allowing people to get comms out

Zoltar Speaks!

Image
The cabinet is finally finished after months of hard work. Not only has Zoltar been recently stripped down and rebuild to make him safer for public use, he's now sporting a rather impressive beard and turban. He's about the hit the road later this summer, promoting the maker community and to encourage others to create. A video of the final build is below: As my builds get progressively larger, the cost of materials doesn't. I still find it amazing what can be achieved from scrap materials - in Zoltar's case, an old wardrobe, a broken light and a smashed up Furby.

Zoltar Cabinet Update

Image
 Ever since I've been posting updates about my Zoltar cabinet build, interest from people has been steadily growing. There is an opportunity this summer for Zoltar to venture out in public and bring his wise words of wisdom to the masses. Despite weighing a ton, Zoltar is actually really rather delicate and so if he is to be used by members of the public, he needs a complete overhaul to make him more robust and safe. I also took the decision to make his cabinet modular in order to make transporting him easier. This was my original intention at the start but I took a short cut and now having to backtrack on that decision. Have a watch of the video below to see the process I took. The bottom half collects the money. I actually forgot how much of a bodge job I did on the wiring of the coin acceptor, so rewiring the base was time well spent. The top half is where all the animatronics sit and so I added additional supports to the frame to preven it from moving. The main challenge was th

Game Dev Diary - Hnefatafl

Image
I was asked last year to see if an online version of the Viking chess game Hnefatafl could be built with the intention of showcasing it at a local history event. I love this game and if you've never heard of it (I hadn't until a year ago) go search it out. It has proved a difficult challenge but has led me down a familiar and enjoyable rabbit hole, that paved the way for my participation in the Sega game jam last month, in which I achieved third place. Learning the rules was a difficult challenge but soon learnt them, along with some basic tactics and techniques of play. I was able to put a working prototype together but the next challenge came when trying to make it two player over a connection. A few moths down the line, I had a reliable working single player version with rather sketchy two player functionality. The last few months have been busy with work and other projects but over the past few months I've been able to dip into the Hnefatafl build and apply a great dea

Game Jam Results

Image
I had written previous about The Arcade Vaults in Cardiff and the game design competition that they were running with Sega Amusements. After four weeks of development, my game Sticky Gumball was entered and my son and I travelled to Cardiff for the competition results. The best thing about the visit was standing in a room watching people play my game whilst discussing with the players about how it was made and the inspiration behind the idea. At one point it got really competitive between players and it was so nice to see people enjoying my game and the other entries. So to the results! The guy from Sega announced the top three winning games and I was so flattered that Sticky Gumball achieved third place, with my friend Rich being awarded second. First place went to a great game I have played quite a bit already and deserved to win, Ticket Tower . The game dev community there was so welcoming, friendly bunch and I hope to keep conversations flowing. Hello to you! You can play Stick

Contacting Zoltar on Twitter

Image
  You can now contact my Zoltar cabinet over Twitter! My Zoltar build is proving a great deal of fun and amusement and whilst it's not complete just yet, he has been generating a great deal on interest. I've been thinking about how to make my Zoltar cabinet more accessible to people and I think I've come up with a way for people to contact him over Twitter. Here's a short video of where the project is currently at. In order for Zoltar to respond to people's fortune requests, I first needed to load him up with some words of wisdom. I found a book of his sayings online and got to work recording them in a spreadsheet, so that I had them stored in a central location. The next step was to create a Twitter account for the Zoltar cabinet and was surprised to see that  @ZoltarCabinet  hadn't been taken, so I snapped it up. The idea is that when Zoltar receives a Tweet to his account, he will choose a random saying from the spreadsheet list and respond back automatically

The Three Amigos

Image
  There's about 18 months work put into these proof of concept cabinets. From left to right:  1. Hacked payphone running on my own telephone network.  2. Retro game cabinet running RetroPi off a Pi Zero.  3. Coin operated Zoltar fortune teller machine. These are all mostly made from Scrap or found and foraged materials. They're not yet finished but all three are getting close to the finishing line.