Another game with jaw dropping photo-realistic graphics, I’ve recently been working on Hyperventilation Sports (HVS). It’s a multiplayer game using the gas mask respiration monitors. The concept is pretty simple – You each have a runner on a 100 meters track. Each breath makes him take a step and the size of the step is mediated by the volume of the breath. Basically the more air you pass through you, and the faster you do it the faster your avatar runs. It’s timed carefully to take about as long as a real (professional) 100m sprint (sub 10 seconds is really hard but just possible), so hopefully won’t actually kill anybody who plays it. It’s definitely the most frantic of the breath games and I find it pretty good fun. Certainly not one I’d do a large scale public demo of though – I don’t need members of the public dropping dead at my feet…
As part of a suite of Breath controlled games, I’ve been developing one called Tunnel Run. It’s a two player game, where one player plays god and the other a pilot. Both players wear the respiration-monitor gas masks. As the “god” player breathes, they create a landscape – a slightly modified graph of their breathing. The “pilot” character then flies the plane through the landscape. Forward motion is automatic, though the speed is modified based on respiration rate. Breathing in moves the plane up, breathing out moves it down. A simple but incredibly difficult game. Essentially player one is having to mimic the breathing of his opponent without ever fully inhaling or exhaling – that, as it turns out is something that is extremely difficult to do for any length of time.
The look is supposed to represent the game being drawn on graph paper – to give the feel of those games you played at school. Is this working? Anybody buying it? No? Okay – I’m terrible at art. I picked this theme because it’s supposed to look scribbly and even I can do that!
I’ve recently been asked to produce an easily portable demo system for the gasmask-based respiration sensors developed for breathless (which was cool, but really not that portable). We decided to do a game and hit on the idea of using the arcade classic “pong.” It’s almost instantly recognisable to most people given its venerableness, and shouldn’t need the rules explaining much. Plus, since it was originally played in homes with a dial, it only requires two dimensions of input – that makes it ideal to map to breathing like few other existing games.
Ultimately we did a little more than simply mapping in to up and out to down. We made a higher respiration rate lead to a bigger paddle, to try and stop people being too careful and just for fun made a really high breathing rate add another ball. It’s now possible to be playing the game with several balls at once – which is hectic but great fun.
Just to make it absolutely what we were measuring, a graph of each player’s breathing is drawn on the screen – strictly it’s a map of paddle motion which is not quite the same thing, but we tried both and this looked better.
It’s written in pygame, which is a really nice library for doing such things and something I can see myself making a lot more use of over the coming months/years.