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Programming IT Technology Entertainment Games

OLPC Physics Game Jam For an XO 61

Brian Jordan writes "For 48 hours during the weekend of August 29-31 at the OLPC Physics Game Jam Boston, game developers will compete in teams of 2-4 to design and implement a physics-based game for the One Laptop per Child XO laptop. There are prize categories for indie, professional, and remote developers (Ludum Dare style). In addition to OLPC/Jam-related swag for all participants, one team will win an XO laptop. Participants should have some game development experience, but we'll be going over the development process during the event — read below for details. If you'll be in the Boston area this weekend, or want to participate remotely, sign up before August 22. If you're a graphic artist, sound designer, musician in the Boston area, or want to be a volunteer, get in touch." Click the magic link for details of the crash course in game programming being offered.

Eric Jordan of the Box2D project will be giving a talk on developing physics games with pyBox2D for the OLPC XO. Nirav Patel, the Google Summer of Code student working on vision processing for the XO, will describe combining physics and vision processing for interactive games. And Alex Levenson, OLPC summer intern and creator of the x2o physics game, will give a remote introduction to level design for his game.
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OLPC Physics Game Jam For an XO

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  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:44PM (#24654517)
    one team will win an XO laptop

    So it's One Laptop Per Child, but Only One Laptop for an entire development team. Hardly seems right.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How about a spreadsheet?

    How about a file manager?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Umm. Sugar already has a file manager, whatever your opinion of it, and the XO is pretty much stock 32bit x86 linux, so you have plenty of other choices.

      No sugar native spreadsheet; but webapps and linux native apps are doable in about 4 seconds.

      Obviously, better to have things brought into sugar then not, if kids are going to be using them; but it isn't as though the XO is a terrible wasteland without sugar native apps, it's just fedora with a funny WM.

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Sugar already has a file manager

        Sugar has a Journal, which is nice for what it does, but doesn't replace a file manager. If you ever tried to exchange data between an XO-1 and a normal computer you will quickly realize that there is a big need for a classic file manager that works the way all other computers work, since the Journal just screws things up big time if you insert a normal USB stick with a normal directory structure on it. This is especially important since Sugar is meant to teach kids how computers work and how to write appli

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:03AM (#24655181) Homepage Journal
      The XO was meant for educating childs (developing countries or not). A game that makes them understand physics, thru a game, goes to the core of the mission of those machines.

      Spreadsheets (childs 1st need to learn how to do and understand math) or file managers (the interface somewhat hides that is a filesystem below) dont look as compatible with those goals.
      • I might be more enthusiastic about that if the ad were asking for any physicists to show up... As a physicist, I don't really trust "graphic artist, sound designer, musician in the Boston area" to get the physics right. If there's one thing we don't need, it's more kids coming in who think they know physics, but have it all wrong.
        • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
          Is for childs, still forming basic concepts. Probably newton's gravity in a game will be better than einstein's one at this level.
          • But do the graphics/sound designers actually understand Newtonian physics? A physicist certainly would. A better person to ask would be a physics teacher, because they would know and be familiar with the physics that these kids would benefit most from (likely basic mechanics).

            Some of the bits of rotational mechanics are not entirely obvious without additional teaching.

        • try having a look at phun and slingshot. thier clearly games made by physicist and hence mainly lacking in fun. theres really not that much to the physics of games. Assuming that its a 2D game all they can put in it is
          friction = normal reaction . coefficent of friction
          gravity to floor = m . g
          gravity between objections = m1 * m2 / d^2
          springs = k . x
          collisions are fairly trivial as long as you have the coefficient of elasticity of both objects a couple of a-level students could work that one out

          really there'

      • by gacl ( 1078259 )

        childs 1st need to learn how to do and understand math

        George W., is that you?

  • That's nothing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm running an OLPC Time Travel Game Jam on July 29-31, 2008.

  • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:47PM (#24654535) Journal

    Is this a Windows or Linux game designed for Sugar's GUI, or can one develop specifically for Sugar and run it wherever the Sugar interface is (regardless of whether it is running on Linux or Windows)?

    • by PaintyThePirate ( 682047 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @12:54AM (#24654867) Homepage
      The idea is to develop specifically for the set of libraries associated with Sugar. This means libraries like pyGTK [], pygame [], olpcgames [], and in this case, pyBox2d [] and Elements [].

      There is a lot of information about creating OLPC Activities on the OLPC Wiki [].
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      sugar ONLY runs on linux. ALL of OLPC's development is focused on linux, so this is a sugar-oriented, linux based game jam. That said, the physics game uses general python libraries like pygame, which should be relatively easy to port to non-sugar linux desktops, and probably windows. -bobby

    • It is python, with python bindings for multimedia. It will run wherever you want.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't remember but I do believe the ELITE engine, the 3D space game from the apple// days, is now free to use...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fantastic contraption is pretty enjoyable. Its a physics game where the physics actually defines gameplay - and each level can be completed multiple ways.

    Lots of time wasted in the office on this one.

  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @12:28AM (#24654737) Homepage

    and it teaches you a little physics. []

  • Drop laptop on foot, learn F=MA!
  • Anyone checked to see if the XO has the horsepower for Armadillo Run? It's an additively fun game and is based on manipulating physics to accomplish goals. []
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      Theres just one problem:

      Armadillo Run requires a PC running Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP.

      I know it can run windows, but I would rather give them a good impression of western civilization. If anyone knows of a linux port, i would love to play it.

    • I tried to run it on XO under wine, and it looks like an example how not to make a game for XO -- OpenGL used for everything, even in 2D side-view mode, eye-candy transitions that remain enabled in low-graphics mode, and, of course, the fact that you need Wine to run it.

      XO has no 3D acceleration, and even though it can use software rendering, game should either use 2D graphics only, or assume that it will have very slow rendering speed. It's possible to do polygon drawing with simple 3D projection/occlusion

  • Eric Jordan of the Box2D project will be giving a talk on developing physics games with pyBox2D for the OLPC XO.

    Wait, I've seen that prefix before...

    A physics engine in python?!?!

  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:14AM (#24655217) Homepage Journal

    I just blew my free time this weekend finishing Fantastic Contraption []

    So it's a Flash game, and you need the internet to post your design and see other people's designs. But it was pure joy.

    FWIW, on the forums they're having a design contest for the official level 21. Deadline is this Friday 8/26, though, and you need to be a $10 registered user to create your own levels.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by phillous ( 1160303 )
      Yeah I wasted some of my life on that a couple of weekends back. It's awesome and I couldn't stop playing until I got to the end...

      Unfortunately alot of the solutions were similar... just attach as many wheels to the box as you can and hope you have the power to move it over the obstacle. Some of the later levels were really good though. Great example of a physics flash game IMO.
  • I gave the kids OLPC XOs last December, and my 11 year old bricked his in less than a week... he tried to replace sugar with a full gnome desktop, (even though I told him it was a bad idea) and things just sort of devolved from there... he ended up with a horribly corrupted filesystem and couldn't boot.

    Day before yesterday he finally managed to completely wipe and reload it with the latest XO build.

    I didn't help, he fixed it himself. Probably spent about 20 hours on it all told.

  • I would love to see a game that accurately and obviously incorporates time-dialation and other weird stuff from the theory of relativity in such a way that after playing one gets an intuitive feel for how the stuff works. How would two space ships fighting each other look to each other, and from a third POV, if both were moving at 0.8c? How would your tactics be forced to change? Or what if had a trading game involving beings with very long lives (so that interstellar space travel is useful) and very slo

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson