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OLPC Physics Game Jam For an XO

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the come-to-learn-come-to-win dept.

Programming 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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one team will win an XO laptop (4, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24654541)

This one is free, where as the ones for children are paid for by governments or the Give1Get1 program.

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | about 6 years ago | (#24654703)

A net prize worth $200 is hardly worth a trip into Boston...

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (5, Insightful)

felipekk (1007591) | about 6 years ago | (#24654927)

You are not the kind of person they are looking for.

OLPC is a non-profit organization. They seek people that have similar things in mind.

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654929)

Especially when you consider that the Boston police are likely to shoot you if they catch you carrying it. After all, it has blinking lights on it and it certainly doesn't look like a NORMAL laptop... ;-)

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (3, Funny)

afabbro (33948) | about 6 years ago | (#24654935)

A prize of $20,000 wouldn't tempt me to go to Boston.

$200,000...maybe. Depends how long I have to stay.

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#24659063)

I felt the same way until I saw a Knights of the Old Republic tabletop game ad here on slashdot just now. It immediately inspired me to go to Boston and create a whack-a-mole style game that alternates between the heads of JarJar and George Lucas. These kids need an educational game to teach them about who ruined star wars and what they should do about it.

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24662817)

mod parent up

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24689159)

God damn conservative software developers!

Re:one team will win an XO laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24664183)

Oh... is that thing still going. I lost interest when they went from having a vision of a completely open system that children could work with from the ground up... to just another vendor selling themselves to Microsoft.

not what they really need (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654521)

How about a spreadsheet?

How about a file manager?

Re:not what they really need (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654609)

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.

spreadsheet is coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655077)

spreadsheet development is underway. see the
SocialCalc wiki page []

greetings, eMBee.

Re:not what they really need (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 6 years ago | (#24658323)

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 applications, but you can't do that when the kids have no way to actually ever see a file system, i.e. you currently can't develop Sugar apps in Sugar, you have to launch the Terminal and use non-Sugar applications to create a Sugar application, quite a bummer.

Re:not what they really need (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654875)

How about too many goddamned acronyms in the article title? Check.

Re:not what they really need (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 years ago | (#24655181)

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.

Re:not what they really need (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 6 years ago | (#24657599)

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.

Re:not what they really need (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 6 years ago | (#24659167)

Is for childs, still forming basic concepts. Probably newton's gravity in a game will be better than einstein's one at this level.

Re:not what they really need (1)

Valfather (988886) | about 6 years ago | (#24661389)

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.

Re:not what they really need (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 6 years ago | (#24661919)

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's nothing in there you need a physicist for, they're not look for an introduction to quantum mechanics (trust me when you start telling children their cat would be half dead all you get are tears)

Re:not what they really need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24664717)

lol, /agree, but the software itself takes care of the physics. in order to do anything in Box2D, you have to specify friction, elasticity, etc., so it actually looks like a pretty good learning tool.

Re:not what they really need (1)

gacl (1078259) | about 6 years ago | (#24668837)

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

George W., is that you?

Re:not what they really need (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24657331)

How about a spreadsheet?

Yeah, every child needs help becoming a soulless corporate drone! Accounting software FOR THE WIN!

How about a file manager?

Already got one. I hear it rots your teeth, though.

That's nothing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654527)

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

Re:That's nothing (3, Funny)

asCii88 (1017788) | about 6 years ago | (#24654811)

Why bother? I've already won

Developed for the XO? (5, Interesting)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24654535)

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)?

Re:Developed for the XO? (4, Informative)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | about 6 years ago | (#24654867)

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:Developed for the XO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655191)

Too bad the idea isn't to get people to participate, or it'd be hosted some place that actually has game developers. Like, say, pretty much anywhere in California?

I'm sure someone will point out that Boston is home to several colleges, but still, I'd think it would be nice to get people in the industry involved rather than students who have just started classes.

Not to mention that Boston isn't known for music or art, so that part is also a complete bust. I suppose New York isn't that far away, but it seems like the event should be going to the artists rather than hoping it can work the other way around.

Re:Developed for the XO? (2, Informative)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | about 6 years ago | (#24655233)

It's being hosted at or near 1 Cambridge Center, the OLPC headquarters. You would be surprised at the number of people near any city in the world who would be interested in such an event. Even the OLPC Game Jam in Pittsburgh last year managed to get a few dozen people. Most of the people who participate are not professional game developers, artists, or musicians, but people who enjoy doing these things in their spare time.

Either way, there's a remote development option.

Re:Developed for the XO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655245)

Holy shit! Ever heard of Berklee? Or the MFA in Boston? Ever even been to Boston?

Re:Developed for the XO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24657873)

You mean Berkeley? That's in California. Otherwise, no, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Googling MFA got me Mortgage Investments and Master of Fine Arts. Chucking in Boston narrowed it to "Museum of Fine Arts" which apparently contains a lot of medieval and Renaissance art, which isn't exactly what I'd call a lively art scene.

And, yes, I've been to Boston. It's a very small "city" with a skyline which contains all of two buildings, whose entire tourism draw is vague "Revolutionary war" history. Once you get over the whole "historic Boston" thing and realize that there's nothing to actually see, it gets boring very fast. Oh, and no one cares about Cheers any more.

None of which has anything to do with the lack of professional game developers in specific or software developers in general.

Re:Developed for the XO? (2, Informative)

RustinHWright (1304191) | about 6 years ago | (#24655247)

Boston *is* known for music and art; it just tends to get lost in the shadow of NYC. But by the standards of a normal city, it is just fine [] . Fwiw, Boston is also close enough to Providence for such an event to have some appeal for folks like the RISD crowd.

Personally, if we're talking about areas with vibrant music and game development scenes, screw California; I would love to see such events done in Orlando and Austin.

Re:Developed for the XO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655259)

Harmonix, the company behind the first few Guitar Heroes and Rock Band, is based in Cambridge. There's music and game development in one example.

Re:Developed for the XO? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655019)

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

Re:Developed for the XO? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#24662981)

Weren't they trying to port it to Windows?

Re:Developed for the XO? (1)

Pope Raymond Lama (57277) | about 6 years ago | (#24656589)

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

ELITE engine now public domain? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654563)

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

100% PURE AFRICAN NIGGER (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654923)


Re:100% PURE AFRICAN NIGGER (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655103)

Silly fool, everybody knows that there are no blacks at Slashdot.

Re:100% PURE AFRICAN NIGGER (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655243)

Does that mean that slashdot isnt cool? Shit.

Re:ELITE engine now public domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24656035)

Hmmm... I don't know if apple has anything to do with. If used as a time indicator you are (probably) right. If used as a platform indicator you are wrong.

Elite was first developed for the Acorn BBC-B computer. On this platform it was a huge success. Later on they wrote one for the Acorn Archimedes / RiscPC. I guess they wrote one for the apple too.

I don't know if it is open sourced, but you can download and play a lot of variations (including the original one) for free. Here is the website (warning - the site is terrible designed, but anyway):

And yes - I sometimes play the original game (using the BBC emulator for Linux or the RedSquirrel RiscPC emulator). Just pure nostalgia. Unfortunately there is no modern version of Elite (although X-Beyond the frontier, X2-The threat and X3-Reunion are very close).

Re:ELITE engine now public domain? (1)

Cus (700562) | about 6 years ago | (#24656665)

There have been several attempts to bring Elite up to date. One (Elite: The New Kind [] iirc) was taking the original BBC B assembly and rewriting it in C, then adding additional graphical handling on top so that the game was essentially identical with regard to logic.

Re:ELITE engine now public domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24661517)

Thanks - I will take a look at it.

But - but - but... what do I see when I scroll the page down? Repton? You say REPTON? Really REPTON? REPTON!!!!!

Now - if there is ONE game that brings back those days again it will be Repton. Countless variations where made. Hours where lost just simply trying to not been crushed, eaten, zapped or whatever. You keep trying again and again and again and... It was the game that simply won't die. It keeps popping up again and again. And still it's not dead. The lizard is popping up his green head again. It's back! It's here! Should I? Just ONE more time? Aaaahrrrgghhhhh!!

But in Boston?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654567)

Try and win something with flashing LED light in BOSTON?! Count me out!

I hope the location they finally decide on (it's still TBD) is officially zoned for programming, I'd hate to see it raided by the police for illegal amateur programming.

Ricardo Montalban dead at 88 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654639)

Ricardo GonzÃlo Pedro MontalbÃn Merino KCSG (born November 25, 1920) was a Mexican television, theatre, and film actor. He has a career spanning decades and multiple notable roles. During the late 1970s, he was the spokesperson in automobile advertisements for Chrysler Cordoba (in which he famously extols the "Corinthian leather" used for its interior). From 1977-1984 he was the lead character Mr. Roarke in the television series Fantasy Island. He also played the villainous Khan Noonien Singh in both the 1967 "Space Seed" episode of the first season of the original Star Trek series, and again in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He won a "Supporting Actor" Emmy Award in 1978, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1993. Though currently in his 80s, he continues to perform, often providing voices for animated films and commercials, such as one that aired during the 2007 Super Bowl XLI.

MontalbÃn was born in Mexico City, the son of Ricarda (née Merino) and Jenaro MontalbÃn, a store manager. He had a brother, actor Carlos MontalbÃn, and a sister, Carmen. MontalbÃn is a practicing Roman Catholic and has said that his religion is "the most important thing in his life". He remains a Mexican citizen by choice, having never taken out citizenship in the United States.

He married Georgiana Young, a minor actress, in 1944; they had four children. She was half-sister of the late actresses Sally Blane, Polly Ann Young, and Oscar-winner Loretta Young, who nicknamed her "Georgie". Georgiana Young de MontalbÃn died on November 13, 2007, aged 84, of undisclosed causes. Her death was not publicly known for some time as no formal obituaries were published, including in such papers as The Los Angeles Times, Variety and The New York Times. Bloggers first reported the story. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, Section EE, #21. She is survived by her husband, their four children and a large extended family including grandchildren, nephews and nieces.

MontalbÃn has stated that when he first arrived in Hollywood, studios wanted to change his name to Ricky Martin. He has frequently portrayed Asian characters - mostly of Japanese background (as in Sayonara and the Hawaii Five-O episode Samurai). His first leading role was the 1949 film Border Incident, with actor George Murphy. During the 1950s and 1960s he was one of only a few actively working Hispanic actors.

Many of his early roles were in Westerns in which he played character parts, usually as an "Indian" or as a "Latin Lover". In 1950, he was cast against type, playing a Cape Cod police officer in the film Mystery Street. In 1957, he played Nakamura in the Oscar-winning film Sayonara.

From 1957 to 1959 he starred in the Broadway musical Jamaica, singing several light-hearted calypso numbers opposite Lena Horne.

In 1975, he was chosen as the television spokesman for the new Chrysler Cordoba. The car became a successful model, and over the following several years, was heavily advertised; his mellifluous delivery of a line praising its "soft Corinthian leather" upholstery, often misquoted as "rich Corinthian leather", became famous and was much parodied, and Montalban subsequently became a favorite subject of impersonators. Eugene Levy, for example, frequently impersonated him on SCTV. In 1986, he was featured in a magazine advertisement for the new Chrysler New Yorker.

MontalbÃn's best-known television role was that of Mr. Roarke in the television series Fantasy Island, which he played from 1978 until 1984. For a while, the series was one of the most popular on television, and his character as well as that of his sidekick, Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize), became pop icons. Another well known role was that of Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was a reprisal of his role in the 1967 episode of Star Trek entitled "Space Seed". There were some questions initially as to whether MontalbÃn had prosthetic muscles applied to his chest during filming of Star Trek II to make him appear more muscular, on account of his being over 60 years old at the time. MontalbÃn and others associated with the production of Star Trek II have disputed this, most notably Leonard Nimoy in his book I Am Spock, citing the fact that he was always physically active and worked out regularly, and those really were his muscles.

MontalbÃn has appeared in many diverse films including The Naked Gun as well as two films from both the Planet of the Apes and Spy Kids series. In addition, he has appeared in multiple musicals, such as 1966's The Singing Nun, also starring Debbie Reynolds. Over the course of his long career, he has played lead roles or guest starred in dozens of television series. Since 1993, MontalbÃn has had to use a wheelchair after a long-unresolved spinal injury from the 1951 film Across the Wide Missouri recurred.

Hello XO laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654681)

Meet -9.81m/s^2

Fantastic contraption (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24654697)

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.

Slingshot is pretty fun (3, Informative)

gQuigs (913879) | about 6 years ago | (#24654737)

and it teaches you a little physics. []

Re:Slingshot is pretty fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655215)

Not to mention the classic "Spaced Penguin"

I have a killer game idea... (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | about 6 years ago | (#24654769)

Drop laptop on foot, learn F=MA!

Armadillo Run (1)

keller999 (589112) | about 6 years ago | (#24654937)

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:Armadillo Run (2, Interesting)

needs2bfree (1256494) | about 6 years ago | (#24655099)

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.

Re:Armadillo Run (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 6 years ago | (#24656133)

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 in software for the purpose of drawing mechanisms like ones in this game, however just passing things to OpenGL and expecting hardware to do the right thing won't work.

pyBox2D (1)

Tolkien (664315) | about 6 years ago | (#24655043)

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?!?!

Re:pyBox2D (3, Informative)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | about 6 years ago | (#24655101)

Not quite. It is a set of Python bindings for Box2d, which is written in C++. Just about everything cpu intensive in Python is written in C or C++ and uses the Python C API (or ctypes or SWIG).

"OLPC Physics Game Jam" (0)

seanonymous (964897) | about 6 years ago | (#24655069)

NERD! That is why you are not on the basketball team.

Betrayal (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24655079)

Why are we still talking about OLPC? I can't even think about it anymore. When Negreponte switched to Windows it was like Al Gore conceding, or those probes that crashed on Mars, or Ben Johnson testing positive(I'm Canadian).

Fantastic Contraption (3, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 6 years ago | (#24655217)

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:Fantastic Contraption (2, Interesting)

phillous (1160303) | about 6 years ago | (#24656395)

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.

My 12-year-old unbricked his XO! (2, Interesting)

Medievalist (16032) | about 6 years ago | (#24658939)

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.

Do Relativity! (1)

readin (838620) | about 6 years ago | (#24659241)

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 slow technological changes (yeah, I know, how would they get space travel with slow technologiy changes, just suspend your disbelief for a minute)? Such a game would be very educational. The normal physics stuff from most video games is easily replicated just by walking outside and bouncing a ball.
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