PONG - THE AUDIO GAME This is a 1- or 2-player game, which uses the bat ranging circuit for the controllers (designed into ping-pong paddles), and an audio motion object circuit with headphones. There would be a very small ping-pong looking table (foosball sized or smaller), with the paddles on relatively short and destruction-resistant cables. At the beginning of the game the players are given various choices by voice synthesis. Choices such as difficulty of game and headphone loudness are made by raising and lowering the paddles. 1) Type of game A.) Competitive ping-pong B.) Cooperative ping-pong (joint score, object being to keep the ball in play for as long as possible) C.) Juggling? (with 1-4 objects) D.) Other variants 2) Type of motion object A) Ping-pong ball which makes whooshing noise which moves spatially to let you know where the ball is B) Tennis ball C) Mack truck D) UFO - sci fi E) Baby chick (peep peep peep...BGAAAWK...peep peep peep...) F) Other objects 3) Difficulty (speed) of game The speed of the game will normally be slower than a normal pong game, since it will take longer to figure out where the ball is and how it's moving. 4) Headphone loudness 5) Other factors (gravity, etc.) Once the game choices are made, the game play begins. The voice will tell one player to serve. The game processor must keep track of whether the paddle hit the ball, and if so, how hard and in what direction. The processor won't know how the paddle was angled, so it will assume it was orthogonal (or whatever) to the ball. This allows a spin to be put on the ball, if we want to carry this that far, by hitting the ball while moving the paddle in a slight sideways direction. The processor bounces the ball off the court in 3-d and into the other player's court. There could be a small speaker mounted on each paddle, which could make the sound of hitting the ping-pong ball, to give the players tactile feedback and to entertain bystanders. There could also be a speaker on the table, for the bystanders. There will be separate sounds for each player when the ball bounces off a paddle, or bounces off the court, or dribbles to a stop, etc. There will be as many subtle audio cues as possible. The sound of the ball's collision with the paddle or the court will vary in loudness and brightness depending on the speed and possibly the angle of the collision. The pitch of the ball's motion could have a slight doppler shift depending on velocity. The critical factor for game play will be how accurately we can inform the player of the ball's distance and spatial position while it is in flight. The main distance cue is the proportion of direct vs. reverberant sound. The main left-right cue will be small time-delays between the left and right channels. The up-down cue is the most difficult, as it depends upon differences in frequency response due to the filtering caused by the shape of the external ear. Some research would need to be done to find out how easily this latter effect can be simulated. The audio motion object simulator might consist of the following: 1) One or more Yamaha sound chips 2) Delay controller, which would preferably be 1 or more microprocessors (6502), if speed constraints allow. The controller would keep track of where the RAM delay pointers are, read in and scale data from various locations, add it together, and save it to another location, depending on left-right time delay, percentage of direct and reverberant sound, and percentage of filtered sound. 3) A RAM (on the order of 10K words.) 4) A DAC, analog multiplexer, (processor-controlled) lowpass filters, and A-D's for doing the frequency-response up-down cuing. This would ideally be done in software if we had something fast enough to do it. Alternatively, we could skip the up-down cuing simulation and just raise and lower the frequency of the ball to indicate where it is vertically. But the realism would be lost. Another possibility is changing Yamaha parameters in real time to correspond to the change in frequency response between up and down. This is the section for which much research must be done. 5) Quality low-pass filters for the output. This circuit will be somewhat expensive, but there is no overhead for a monitor and video hardware. Even if some of the audio parameters are somewhat arbitrary, so long as enough information is present, the skill may be learnable and perfectible. The speech synthesis could carry on a running play-by-play, or could say to each player what the other player is supposedly saying. Once the basic game play and motion object circuitry are designed, many variations can be easily added. A similar hardware could be used for a Star Wars type light saber game. The player puts on his blast helmet and uses the light saber, with bat ranging circuit, to battle the floating training orb.
Mar 27, 1985