When Michael Newman was a little kid, he liked to draw new video game levels. Quite literally, the obsessive tinkerer is still doing so, but judging by the Video Game Sans Video project he demoed at the 2013 Maker Faire, his pursuits are anything but juvenile.
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Now a creative director a developer for Pomp productions, his self-owned and operated Los Angeles-based interactive development and product design company, Newman's latest project harks back to classic wind-up steering games.
In Video Game Sans Video, gamers navigate a space ship in four directions - up, down, forward and back - against a scrolling paper background. Newman drew the rudimentary back ground with black marker. Using a joy stick, pilots steer the ship through what appears to be a cavernous landscape and attempt to avoid smashing into walls or boulders.
To make the Video Game Sans Video, Newman used a combination of parts salvaged from a scanner and a multipurpose copier printer. He also used SparkFun Electronic's EasyDriver Stepper Driver to control the stepper motors on the space ship's vertical and lateral tracks.
"The spaceship is really just an infrared sensor," Newman told Discovery News. "As you navigate through the world, it the sensor encounters a dark color, it lets the computer know that you've crashed."
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As for his goal for the project, Newman said he wanted to recapture his love of drawing video games levels as a kid and introduce this ambition to the next generation.
"When I thought of this Maker Faire, I thought about building something that would go back to ‘what would kids like,' so this is a starting point," he said. "I hope in the future to do some other fairs where kids can draw the levels, pop ‘em in and make their own worlds. It's really just about having having fun - whimsy."
Credit: Nic Halverson