Tag Archive: Leap Motion

Steam in the Livingroom


We always planned to release Caromble! on PC, Mac and Linux. But right now it might just be that we’ll be able to launch on a console as well.

While Microsoft and Sony are preparing for the next-gen console war, this week Valve showed it too has some tricks up its sleeve. The people behind Half-Life and Steam made three announcements that might one day completely blur the lines between consoles and desktop computers.
Gabe Newell, the owner of Valve, already made clear he wanted Steam to be an open platform, accessible to everyone. The first move in this direction was the launch of Greenlight, opening up the Steam store for Indie Developers. In the light of an open platform, launching a closed console like Microsoft and Sony are doing seemed an unlikely choice for Valve.

The first announcement was Steam OS: a Linux-based operating system to play steam games and stream media. A few days later it became clear that the rumors about a SteamBox we’ve been hearing for a while were true. But instead of the SteamBox being a closed console, Valve is working with multiple partners to bring a variety of console like machines (running Steam OS) to the market in 2014. Heck, it’ll even be pretty easy to build your own SteamBox.SteamController

The main problem with using a desktop computer in the living room is that you have no place to put your mouse and keyboard, so it’s no surprise at all what Valve announced last: a controller. But instead of playing it safe and going for a Playstation/Xbox-like controller, they are making a controller with multiple trackpads. This has the advantage that the Steam controller will be able to simulate mouse movements and is therefore compatible with all Steam games at launch.
Of course, a trackpad never gives you the kind of feedback an actual button would. Therefore, Valve has equipped the controller with “super-precise haptic feedback” to give you information about speed, boundaries, and thresholds.
We already added Leap Motion to support to Caromble! a while back. It worked very well and even allowed us to play Caromble! on the floor at Gamescom. With that in mind, I think Caromble! would work very well with Valve’s new toy.

It seems unlikely that Valve will spend the same amount of money on marketing the SteamBox as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, but since the SteamBox will likely evolve over the years (just like Steam did), times might just become very interesting…

As we wrote before, we already support Linux for Caromble! (with Mac support underway). With the announcement of the SteamBox, supporting Linux just got even more attractive. If we could just get our hands on one of those controllers… Exciting times!

Caromble @ Gamescom

Logo Caromble @ Gamecom

Caromble @ Gamescom

We’ll be visiting Gamescom on the 21st and 22nd of August! Come see us if you want to check the game, interview us, or shower us with huge amounts of money for porting the game to your platform. We appreciate it, promised.

We don’t have our own stand, but we’re coming with a new trailer, a new demo – and the LeapMotion Controller for showing.
If you’re interested, please email or call us.

Taking the Leap

When Microsoft’s Kinect was released, I imagined all the cool kind of interactions that were possible and what this could do for gaming. Now a few years later, I haven’t really played any great games that used the Kinect. The only exception would be Child of Eden, which was awesome. I think the main problem was the precision. It feels like 1 out of 5 times the Kinect misinterpreted your actions. Of course this could be poor software implementation and not the hardware, but still. Were motion controls doomed?

Now, it is less than one month until the release of the Leap Motion. Instead of full body detection, it does hand and finger recognition. The poor precision that in my opinion degraded the Kinect is not an issue here. It has a precision of 0.01mm with almost no latency (~5ms). I remember that I saw the video about a year ago and I was convinced, with many others, that it was a hoax. That kind of precision was just unreal, especially for the price they aimed to sell it.

When the possibility arose to apply for a dev-kit, curious as I am I did not hesitate and filled in the form. A few weeks later, after attending a game jam for Empowerment for Children, I came home finding a package directed to Crimson Owl Studios. This was the first mail we ever received that was directed to Crimson Owl, so that was already special in itself. Even better, it contained the Leap Motion dev-kit. About 15 minutes later I had it plugged it and a demo running… WTF! It wasn’t a hoax. It worked, just as in the video. Wow, nice… It did have some problems with detecting multiple hands simultaneously, but that was solved in later firmware updates.

So how to use this for Caromble!? Let’s just try something and first let it detect my finger positions. The SDK is simple and intuitive and comes with a Java binding, so in less than an hour we had something up and running. Moving your finger left and right moves the paddle, simple as that. I was tweaking the parameters to adjust the sensitivity, when I came up with the idea to use my finger position in z-axis direction to influence the sensitivity. That turned out to be a pretty good idea. During gameplay I sometimes used high precision and sometimes high moving speed. The ability to adjust this during gameplay felt really nice. The two other actions we have in Caromble!, charging and activating powerups, have been implemented by directing your finger upward and tapping respectively. This implementation makes it possible to play Caromble! with the Leap Motion as can be seen below and I must say, for me it adds to the fun.

Perhaps motion controls for gaming isn’t doomed after all! We will try and find the best way of using the Leap motion to control Caromble!. Perhaps you readers have some ideas of how to use it to charge the paddle or activate powerups? Perhaps we could add a second hand? Possibilities enough. Let us know in the comment section below.