Monday, October 09, 2006

More Jumping Like a Videogame Character

Howstuffworks has a good behind the scenes article on the inner workings of the Nintendo Amusement Park, which they call an example of physically-augmented reality. They describe what it is, how it works now, and how it might work in the future.

How do you give normal human beings the superhuman abilities Mario and Luigi have in the video-game world? You help them jump, of course -- and jump high. Jumping is just one requirement, though. The other is the world itself -- the Mushroom Kingdom complete with its moving platforms, obstacles and enemies. The designers plan to use a variety of mechanical systems and objects to duplicate these effects and create a large, navigable obstacle course. When complete, the Nintendo Amusement Park will be a 100-meter-long course that fully replicates the side-scrolling, platform action of "Super Mario Bros." To simulate the various worlds and levels of the video game, the designers will build different challenge areas -- or courses.

That's the ultimate vision, anyway. Right now, the park exists as a much simpler prototype, with plans for a gradual, phased implementation of the more complex gaming environment.
I liked the notion of taking the current essentially 2-D control and making it a limited-range 3D in which the player is constrained to a long, skinny slice of real estate but within that slice can move horizontally in two dimensions as well as vertically. The ultimate game might borrow as much from Zaxxon as Mario Brothers.

The article goes on to discuss how physically augmented reality compares to virtual reality and mixed reality. More here.

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