I went to Boilermake IV (Purdue’s yearly hackathon) with some friends. We made a virtual reality version of DDR with a full-rotation bar (source on github), and took third place overall. (The video quality is awful and I’m sorry.)

On Friday night, we met up with Purdue’s Music Gaming Club. Sometime after that, we realized the pad we brought (a $35 Craigslist Cobalt Flux with a little bit of onsite penny modding) was sending us unreliable input, so I asked to borrow one of the club’s pads, and they graciously obliged.

We stumbled our way through Unity over the weekend, starting with code from a rhythm game built by Josh Leland. The hardware’s comprised of a Precision Dance Pad, and some 2-by-4s we screwed together with a borrowed drill. Our 7am trip to the hardware store also made us very fond of a certain Weird Al song. Which has a stepchart. Which we loaded into the game.

The game has four playfields — north, south, east, west — and works by periodically disabling and re-enabling them. The player must turn to face the currently-active playfield.

The software can load any simfile (the file format that holds DDR charts) after running it through a parser to remove holds and rolls. Slowdowns also… don’t work at all. Whoops. Standard DDR/Stepmania must insert a delay in the simfile that we didn’t account for, so for now, the game can play any chart without slowdowns.

I’m pretty sure I reached peak hackathon when I changed shirts/applied deodorant while a company rep was trying to offer me swag. In retrospect, it was rude and I feel bad, but playing DDR all weekend makes one a bit stinky :^) and a lack of sleep impairs judgement.

I slept something like five hours between Friday and Sunday, and collapsed shortly after filming that video on Sunday night. I don’t like how hackathons encourage not sleeping, but we had to finish this project by Sunday morning, so sleep much we did not.

I plan to refine this project a bit over spring break in preparation for RIP9, UIUC’s spring dance game tournament. I might rewrite it in Unreal, since game-building friends tell me that it’s a better engine overall, and it might even let me load Stepmania directly into the 3D environment with a little messing around.

Overall, it was a fun weekend! My rule for going to hackathons is “visit friends there” or “have a good idea beforehand” and both of those occurred, so I’m happy.